A stepmother in the co-parenting relationship

Despite the fact that we’ve only been living apart for six months, I wasn’t at all surprised when my ex told me that he had met someone else.  I felt no jealousy or emotion.  I left him and it was the best decision I ever made.

But, I am not ready for a stepmother to enter our co-parenting relationship.  Cygnet, now 17 months, has endured a lot of change in his short life, and I don’t believe that he is ready to meet a stepmother yet either.

My ex said that we needed to meet, as a priority.  This always makes me nervous. I know that he is never going to tell me that I am doing a great job as a mother, or that he has reconsidered his finances (and his integrity!) and believes that he should be giving me more money for the maintenance of our son.  But, things had been on an even keel.  We had started to settle into a routine.  I was beginning to think that co-parenting was getting easier.

I feared that he wanted to discuss taking our son away on holiday for a week at Easter.  I also wondered whether he was going to raise the subject of getting him christened a Catholic again – my ex spent time with his mother over christmas and I suspect she will have put pressure on him.  I had wondered whether he had met someone. I knew that meeting someone new was his top priority.

We started by talking about the cat.  My ex is going away for a week next week and wants me to feed his cat whilst he is away.  I agreed. 

My ex then told me that he had met someone else.  He said they had only been:

seeing each other for about three weeks

but that he wanted me to know that:

it was getting very serious very quickly”.

I am not really sure what this means. They are going to Gambia to get some winter sun next week, so I wonder whether they will come back engaged to be married.  My ex is Prince Charming, and I know that in these early stages of their whirlwind romance she will be getting the charm offensive, full throttle!

She is a mother with two children aged five and six.  My ex has met her children. 

He said he wanted to introduce her to Cygnet, our son. 

It is quite difficult [for them] to spend time together he said

because she is looking after her children” and my ex

“has our son for half of the weekend”.  “It would just make things a lot easier if she could meet Cygnet”. 

I was noncommittal, said I couldn’t give an answer there and then and that I needed to think about it.

I don’t believe in the myth of the evil stepmother.  I know that many of you are stepmothers.  I also know that my ex’s new partner is (was) as single mother herself.  She has children of five and six.  She will have been through some really really tough times whatever the circumstances of her break-up. We have a lot in common.  She may well have been going through the exact same feelings that I am going through now if/when her ex husband met a new woman.

I know that I was beginning to settle into our co-parenting régime and was beginning to relax into my new life as a single mum with a just about amicable (stretching the definition slightly) relationship with my ex. I resent that this has been thrown at me so fast and so soon.

I don’t believe that it is in Cygnet’s best interests either.  He is also just settling into our co-parenting régime after a lot of turmoil of moving house, moving nursery, having two beds and flip-flopping between Mummy’s flat and Daddy’s house.  I think it would be too much for him. Too much, too soon. 

I know for some there is such a thing as love at first sight, but I can’t help but think that “seeing each other for about three weeks” doesn’t allow much time to build solid foundations, to come to terms with each other’s pasts, to discuss a vision for the future. 

I want those foundations to be solid, for the past to have been aired and for the future to have been discussed before Cygnet is introduced. 

I plan to say this to my ex, but when my son is only 17 months old, and can’t recount his days with Daddy, how do I know that my ex is telling me the truth?  Those split weekends, those “days with Daddy” may well be days en famille (my son, my ex, the new woman and her two children) already. 

How would I ever know? 
Everything Mummy

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

28 Comments

  1. January 24, 2016 / 11:52 am

    I think you’re absolutely right in what you’re saying; three weeks is no time at all even if he’s swept her off her feet and promised her the world! You’re definitely doing the right thing in saying “not yet”. #KCACOLS
    The Speed Bump recently posted…On Aquariums And ToddlersMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 26, 2016 / 11:33 am

      Thank you for your support and encouragement. ‘Not yet’ is what I will be saying (once the love birds get home from their holiday that is ;-))

  2. January 24, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    I read this post anxiously as a single mother too I dread the day my ex tells me he has met someone and a ‘step mother’ enters the equation. I know after 3 weeks I would be saying no, but after 3 months 3 years I might even be the same- which is terrible! #Ihaveissues Im sure you will do what is right for you x

    • thesingleswan
      January 26, 2016 / 11:32 am

      Hi Nadine,

      You don’t have issues! It is really difficult and I know that it is really difficult to work out what the right answer is, or if there is even a right answer and a right time. thanks for your comment. I will let you know how things progress. Pen x

  3. January 25, 2016 / 9:39 am

    Hmm. I know as a single parent myself I wouldn’t dream of introducing someone to my girls after 3 weeks. It’s much to soon. As for it being hard to see her surly his time with his son should be just that and his time with his new partner should remain separate. I know everyone does things differently and theres no wrong or right way to go about it but thats just my opinion. Thanks for linking up to #sundaystars
    Everything Mummy recently posted…My week in pictures 2016 #3My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 26, 2016 / 11:30 am

      Hi, thank you for your comment. I agree, there is no right or wrong way to do things, and it is really difficult to work out what is right. We all have to move on. I know that, and in fact am actively encouraging it when it comes to my ex, but we do both need to think about the implications of all of this for our son. I will let you know how things go. thanks again Pen x

  4. January 25, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    I feel for you. I really do. I do think seeing as he has not been with this woman for long, he shouldn’t really introduce her to your son. It should just be him and your son for a while. So your son can get used to it too.
    hope everything goes well
    Thank you so much for linking up to #justanotherlinky
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    • thesingleswan
      January 26, 2016 / 11:28 am

      Hi, thank you for comment. Yes, I totally agree. I will let you know how it goes. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      January 25, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      Hi, thanks for your comment. I will let you know how it goes. I am wondering whether the ex will come back from Gambia engaged to be married. I will let you know. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      January 26, 2016 / 11:27 am

      Hi Laura,

      thanks very much for your comment. We will see how it goes. Whatever happens though, I want to insist that we do what is right by our son and not just what is most convenient for my ‘delightful’ ex. Wish me luck. Pen x

  5. January 29, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Oh lovely I really feel for you. I don’t think this should have been put on you so soon. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx
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  6. January 29, 2016 / 11:19 pm

    Oh I feel for you, what a thing to be put on you! He’s only being seeing her a few weeks, that’s nothing, and really not much time at all. I think you are right to think not yet #kcacols
    New Mummy Blog recently posted…One Saturday on Leckhampton HillMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 30, 2016 / 9:07 pm

      Thank you very much for your comment. Much appreciated. x

  7. January 30, 2016 / 9:43 am

    I think you are absolutely in your right to say “not yet” Three weeks is not very long at all and as you say Cygnet has already been through so many changes recently it seems unfair to purposely add more new things.

    I hope your ex takes this into consideration when you tell him your decision and I hope he understands.

    Thanks so much for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you see back again on Sunday X
    Maria recently posted…My Top Five Holiday GripesMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 30, 2016 / 9:07 pm

      Hi Maria,

      thanks very much for your comment. I am going to try to say ‘not yet’ and we will see how it goes. The problem will be policing it. How will I ever know that my ex has introduced Cygnet to his new girlfriend – Cygnet is only 17 months and cannot tell me. Oh well! Thanks very much. Pen x

  8. January 30, 2016 / 10:56 am

    I think you are completely right! 3 weeks is way to soon. You shouldn’t allow this unless things are very serious and in 3 weeks nothing can be serious. They are just in the pick of the romance stage. It could all finish in a week time! I say this because my sister was also a single mother for a long time and she had different relationships after she left her partner and she made the mistake of introducing too soon her daughter to these new boyfriends. Those relationships didn’t last and it was just a big confusion for my niece. She didn’t understand why they were not around any more. Since then she decided that she won’t introduce her daughter to new boyfriends until she felt that the person is the right person and after dating for a reasonable amount of time. I think this was a clever decision and it was much better for my niece. She has now a partner for more than a year and my sister has introduced my niece in the correct time and everybody is happy. I know this is not the exact same situation as you have mentioned about your ex’s new girlfriend but it is the same idea of introducing your child to a strange that potentially could be part of the family if you know what I mean. So I believe it should be better to protect your son and introduce these new people in the correct moment when the time is right. So sorry for the long essay!! lol Thanks lovely for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I love having you back to this link y. I would love to see you again on Sunday! 🙂 x
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    • thesingleswan
      January 30, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      Hi Franca,

      Thanks very much for your long comment. Please do not apologise for the essay – I appreciate it.

      I agree with your points and it is really nice to hear it from someone who has been there and done it and learned the lessons. I very much doubt that my ex is going to see things the same way – hey ho, if we saw things the same way then we probably wouldn’t have separated.

      thanks again and thanks also for hosting #KCACOLS

  9. January 31, 2016 / 8:21 am

    I can’t believe they’re going on holiday together after only 3 weeks, let alone introducing each other to children!
    Min recently posted…My Top Five Toys, by PigletMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 14, 2016 / 10:17 pm

      Yep, Your version of the single mum thing is definitely more straightforward. x

  10. February 3, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    Oh, Pen. I’m so sorry he’s putting you through that. I understand that he is proud of his son and wants to show him off, but pump the brakes, buddy. Think for a second. Would you take your new fling (because that’s what it is at this point) to meet your parents after only three weeks? Doubt it. Maybe that could be a question you ask: “Has she met your parents yet?” Because if she can’t meet them yet, then she can’t meet the baby, whose feelings are a lot more vulnerable than those of thinking adults. Then again, maybe he introduced her to the parents on their first date. Regardless, the answer is no, and he has to accept that. Good luck with that conversation, and if you need me as backup, don’t hesitate to bring a laptop with you, and we’ll Skype, and I’ll just be like, “DID YOU NOT HEAR PEN? SHE SAID NO!” every time he disagrees with you. I’m here for you like that.
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    • thesingleswan
      February 14, 2016 / 10:16 pm

      He heee. I would love to set up a Skype chat between you and my ex. He would be scared shitless. thanks for always making me laugh. x

  11. HDM
    March 8, 2016 / 6:58 am

    Totally agree – far too soon and too early – and when this breaks up and the next ‘love interest ‘comes along ………………however… just playing devils advocat…you son is very young and won’t understand or really care about the ‘new’ woman -You are his mum, his primary carer and will always be his first love. But I get it. My husband and I split last year and my daughter was then 12- and she has refused to be a part of her dads new life with his new girlfriend whom he had already started a (albeit possibly nonsexual possibly) relationship with when we split . Had she been a baby it would have been easier – but a hormonal teenager ain’t going to take it easily . I tried to tell my ex…too soon …too early but he didn’t listen and put his new girlfriend first and now he has no relationship with his daughter – (which of course is all my fault!) . Stick to your guns and he will thank you for it in the long run

    • thesingleswan
      March 8, 2016 / 9:51 pm

      Hi,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree it is far too early, but really I don’t think that there is anything I can realistically do to control the situation. I can request that he does not introduce her to our son this soon, but I am reliant on him to be honest with me. I don’t think I trust him so it is tough really. You are right, my son won’t remember anything now. I do, on occasion, take comfort in that fact when I think about the situation.

      thanks again

      Pen x

  12. April 3, 2016 / 7:11 am

    I was a single mum when I met my OH & from day 1 she was with us whenever we where together & I moved in with him after about 2 months because of spent most of my time at his anyway. He bought a travel cot for her about 2 weeks after we got together. He’s always been dad to her even though she sees her dad regularly.

    I also know she meets lots of people at her dads, because they are all very social & have dinner parties and go out together. I’ve no idea when she met his now ex, but I know they got on as she would talk about kitty a lot, but then they broke up she wasn’t bothered, she’s not even mentioned her again.
    I also know both of my girls have met both of my sister’s partners & ex’s, they ask after the guys occasionally as they spend one day a week at my parents with my sister’s. Sassy also experienced the loss of OH’s mum at 20 months old and her great gran around the same time.

    I also met my partners kids when we had only been together a couple of weeks.

    I don’t believe it to be an issue, I can see why people wait but it’s not something that worries me.
    Fern recently posted…Marmalade the mouse and his Cornish adventure (review) and exciting EVENT!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      April 4, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      Hi Fern,

      thank you very much for this comment. I think as a mum, particularly a single mum, you worry about everything, or at least I do, more than you need to. Your comment about your family and the fact that, having been there, you don’t believe it to be an issue is actually very reassuring.

      thanks again

      pen x

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