Happily Divorced: Bringing New Adults into Our Child’s Life

I have to say that one of the most threatening aspects of our divorce was the prospect that some other woman might someday claim parental rights – even mommy rights – over my child.  To me being a mom was and still is the most important contribution I will ever make to this world.  How can I bear the thought of that being taken from me?  I agonized over this possibility as Bob began to embark on new relationships.  Of course at the time, it didn’t even occur to me that Bob was facing this issue already since I went straight from our marriage into a four-year relationship with another man.  Shit this stuff is really painful to write about.

I feel Bob’s pain as I type this and the fears I had for our child at that time all over again.  I wish I could have stepped back from the moment to observe the situation with empathy at the time and consider our options a bit more.  But now nearly 19 years removed from these events, while recognizing I didn’t handle them in a way that would leave me with the most resolved emotions, I do accept that it still all had to happen as it did.

As explained in Chapter 10, the first lady that Bob dated seemed pretty shallow to me.  She had big boobs (something I lacked and which Bob desired) and she seemed to care for Bob.  But I had this nagging feeling that she was going to turn into some evil bitch from hell one day.  The thought that this might happen in front of my only son terrified me.  Bob really didn’t seem to wait very long before he introduced this woman to Ian either which I thought was completely inappropriate, unnecessary, and risky.  What if Ian liked her and then Bob ended it?  Ian would be hurt.  What if she was careless?  Could Ian get hurt in her care?  After all, she was not a mom.  What if she physically or mentally abused my son?  All of us know at least one person who experienced this from a step-parent, boyfriend, or girlfriend of a parent.  That would be all she wrote.  I’d have to kill her.  Then I’d go to prison and my life would be over.

Also in Chapter 10, I covered that I chose to wait six months to introduce my first post-marriage boyfriend to Ian.  I didn’t want a constant parade of potential step-parents being put in front of our son.  I wanted to be careful.  I wanted Ian to see that his mom was using good judgment and that I intended to protect him.  And I wanted to find out more about this person before putting my son at risk.  I really wanted to feel like Bob was exercising the same caution.  But all I kept fearing was that he would rush to reestablish the comfort he enjoyed being in a relationship.  Bob just never was much of a loner.  He liked being part of a couple.  I, on the other hand, enjoy solitude and only wanted to be part of a couple to the extent that it enhanced my otherwise happy loner existence.  This all sounds very ironic to me now since I’m the one that went straight into another relationship; but honestly I really didn’t want to do that.  I wanted to take time to be on my own.  Yet, I needed a ticket out of my current situation and going into another relationship, in some twisted way, seemed to justify me asking for a divorce.  After all, I had been telling Bob for years that we were headed for divorce and he would tell me I was stupid or just respond sarcastically, “Yeah, right.”  If I had taken up with another man, he had to believe it was happening for real and accept it, right?  Geez, I sure did find the most painful way to make my point.

Anyway, Bob continued to date this woman for a bit and I continued going to therapy, reflecting frequently on her advice to me that if I believed Bob was a good dad, I’d just have to trust him.  I had to accept it and put my trust in knowing he would continue to be a good father.  Fortunately in my case, I really did believe above all else that Bob would protect our son from any harm – either physical or mental.  He himself had grown up in a situation where his father really didn’t afford him the same concern and I knew Bob would never let that be the behavior his son saw him exhibit.  So with that I released my fears about that first woman and those that followed.

I continued to date “the other man” who also had a daughter a couple years older than Ian.  She and I met fairy soon after that relationship began.  That was her father’s choice and given his odd situation with his daughter’s mom, I can understand why he made this choice.  The couple had an excessively tumultuous relationship with restraining orders, an eight-year long custody battle, withheld visitation, and one instance in which she fled the state illegally with the child moving the two of them to Maryland.  The father had to hire a private investigator to track them down and force her to return with the daughter to Ohio.  What a mess!  So dad had been through a lot to remain in his daughter’s life and I think he really just wanted her to see a man and woman together who were not fighting.

I got along with the daughter well and she seemed to enjoy my company.  After about six months, we felt it was time everyone met.  The daughter and Ian.  Ian and the boyfriend.  Ian was only six years old at the time.  So I didn’t want to make this some big life changing event – at least not in his young mind. I just wanted all of us to get together and have a nice time.  I figured Ian and the daughter might play and get to know each other and Ian might at least become semi-comfortable with the presence of another man around me.  So I planned a gathering of my closest friends to play cards and invited the boyfriend and his daughter to join us.  I asked our friends to make it seem like nothing more than a bunch of friends getting together at mom’s house with a chance for Ian to meet a new playmate.

Everyone arrived around seven or so and we had a lovely time playing cards while the kids played.  And played.  And played.  In fact, it seemed these two were long lost relatives so glad to finally reconnect.  They really were like best friends immediately.  All my friends noticed and commented on how natural they seemed to be together and how much fun they were having – pretty much oblivious to the existence of anyone else.  Finally, the friends left and it was just the four of us.  The boyfriend and I watched a movie on the couch in the living room while the kids continued to play in the next room.  The kids had the time of their lives playing with action figures together and giggling their heads off.  The night was a success and a relief.  Now we could all spend time together and maybe even become a spinoff version of our family.

Meanwhile, Bob dated a few women here and there and then after about 2 years, he met a new redhed.  Her name was Brandi and yes she also had big boobs.  But she also seemed to have substance.  I could tell she cared deeply for Bob and had patience for some of his antics that I simply lacked.  She also had an obvious maternal instinct of her own and clicked well with Ian.  I’m so glad that Bob dumped the first girl with big boobs and kept looking until he found Brandi.  We are all better off with her in our family’s corner.

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