I am a single mom of an only child, a 14 year old girl, and I have recently reconciled with my former fiance (we are not engaged again - simply back together) . He has a 11 year old son.
During our initial relationship and engagement, which was 4 years ago, I was in a different place, I was overly focused on my daughter being THE priority in my life, while trying to balance developing a strong, lifelong partnership with my fiance and building a relationship with his son. I over-babied his son because his mother had basically abandoned him at age 3 and moved 2000 miles away, then decided she had made a mistake (to her credit). However, he only gets to see his mom during holiday breaks and in the summer for 5 weeks.
My then-fiance and I ended our engagement when it became clear that neither of us were ready/willing to be a parent to the other's child. I was definitely more ready than he was and had taken on a lot of parenting responsibilities, but his son was MUCH easier than my daughter, He was an adorable 6 year old who desperately wanted a "full-time" mom, while my daughter did not want anyone interfering in our life. Although she was initially excited about me having a relationship (it had been the two of us for almost 5 years), she soon started to resent the two of them, and her resentment caused a great deal of issues and resentment on my guy's part. It became clear that the two of us were not ready to figure things out effectively and be equal partners in developing a blended family.
I never stopped loving my ex, nor did he stop loving me, but during the time we were apart (approx. 2 years) a whole lot changed in my life. Due to some serious issues with my daughter we have had extensive counselling (both of us - together and separate) and she ultimately required mental health intervention and hospitalization. As a result, my outlook on parenting, life, and what my daughter needs from me have changed completely. I have become a much different parent, and I feel that my daughter and I are much healthier - I am giving my daughter both healthy boundaries and allowing her to own her choices, while no longer being controlled and consumed by her (this was MY doing, not hers - so please know I am not blaming her - I allowed things to get out of control). My daughter is making dramatic progress in separating from me in a positive way and becoming a very independent and self-sufficient young lady, and we have a wonderful relationship.
During the initial relationship between my guy and me, I was very smitten by the son - I felt very sorry for him because of his mom's choices and in many ways, I treated him like he was mine. I realized that I was beginning to resent that my fiance did not treat my similarly, because in his words, she already had a dad who was involved in her life (her dad sees her one or two weekends a month). As a result, I slowly started to pull away from "mothering" his son while still maintaining a loving relationship. During our time apart, we would still get the kids together once in awhile, and I made it clear that his son could contact us/spend time with us if he wanted to. I would always answer his son's emails and calls whenever he wanted to reach out to me and always acknowledged birthdays/holidays/important events.
Here's the rub. While I love my guy with all my heart, I am finding myself somewhat resentful that his son is still the center of his world. We reconciled shortly before the son left for his 5 week visitation with his mother, and the two of us spend a lot of quality time together while my daughter was at camp and with her friends. We've become closer than ever, but ever since his son returned, I have been having a hard time, and I feel terrible about this. He is still young, and needs his dad in ways my daughter no longer needs me.
My guy wants us to do "family" things all the time, while I am at a different place. I want to work on OUR relationship, looking toward the future, while giving him all the space and time he needs to be with his son, and still keeping my daughter as my priority. I don't mind doing things with our kids at all, but more often than not, it ends up being just him, his son and me since my daughter is heavily involved in an internship at a nearby stable and recently got her own horse. She has never felt the "family" connection with my guy, and as a result, "family" time doesn't usually include my part of the "family." I don't force her to spend time with the two of them if she doesn't want to, but appreciate it when she chooses to.
I don't plan on getting married until my daughter is out of high school, and I don't think blending our families at this point is a good idea, given everything my daughter has been through the past 2 years. He seems to understand and support this, but at the same time, he wants me to help raise his son.
I can help on some level, but I am finding myself resenting his son in some ways, which makes me feel awful. My guy has always put his son first, which I wholeheartedly support, but it seems excessive to me now. His son still sleeps with him, is with him all the time, does just about everything with him, and has virtually no friends his own age. It's like the two of them are best friends, even though my guy expresses frustration over having to be his son's "playmate" and wanting his son to make more friends his own age.
Maybe it's because I had to learn how damaging it was to both my daughter and I to make her the center of my world and my co-pilot in our life that I now am less tolerant of other parents doing what I did, but I am just not sure how to handle this.
My guy just told me yesterday that he feels like he has been spending too much time away from his son (with me), and that he wants us to include his son in the things we do. My immediate internal reaction was irritation - I want to have our own time together primarily when we can (knowing that his son is his #1 priority and should be), and the "group" time secondary, and only once in a while.
I am more than willing to take a back seat to the two of them spending time together, whenever they want/need it, just as I would expect him to be when I need one-on-one time with my daughter. What I don't understand is the irritation I feel toward the son, and the frustration I feel with the constant togetherness between the two of them not allowing the two of us to have sufficient adult time together If the two of us go out to dinner, his son will call multiple times - but when his son was with his mom for 5 weeks, he rarely ever contacted his dad. I won't stay overnight at their house or go away overnight with the two of them because I will NOT sleep with an 11 year old boy in the same bed (or at the foot of the bed, which is what has been suggested). YUCK. But why does it bother me that he sleeps there when they are alone? Is it wrong of me to want a separate relationship that is just between myself and my guy first and foremost, and then one with all of us together second?