I didn’t care because it was lust at first sight. All I was thinking about was getting into his pants, not starting a long-term relationship. The possibility of meeting his kids, let alone getting involved with them (in any way) was not on my radar. I continued on my child-free life way. There was also a part of me that thought dating a dad was sexy — I’d never had a dad before. That sounds creepy.
In the beginning, Julian almost made it seem like he didn’t have kids — by that, I mean, because he didn’t have full custody, there were plenty of “between-the-sheets” days. As time went on, he’d cancel our plans more frequently. It didn’t truly hit me over the head until we moved in together. I’d get the side-eye from Julian if I preferred not to partake in the weekend activities with the kids. My feeling was, they were his kids and his time with them — I was just the girlfriend. When I started to feel my autonomy slipping away, I knew this might be an issue.
When you add children into the mix, it undoubtedly changes a romantic relationship dynamic. How did you navigate, making sure your needs were expressed and addressed while also considering the kids?
It was a clear-cut Jekyll/Hyde relationship. When we weren’t with the kids, we were starring in homemade porn (figuratively speaking … sort of). And when we had the kids, we toned down the PDA. I adjusted to Julian’s “Dad” persona, which was easy because it was temporary. As time went on, expressing our love for one another in front of the kids wasn’t an issue. I don’t think our romantic life suffered at all.
You were a part of these kids’ lives during their formative years. How do you think the experience would have differed if they were younger? Older?
If the kids were much younger than 8 and 13, I wouldn’t have stuck around. Julian would’ve been more involved (I’m guessing), and his attention more divided. Somewhere inside, I knew this, and I’d often remark to anyone who’d listen, that I was lucky because Julian didn’t have full custody, and the kids weren’t infants or toddlers.
I don’t know that the experience would’ve been different if the kids were older. There’s no way of knowing. Based on my one and only experience, they were the perfect ages. I was able to be an influence in their lives, do a bit of molding, and I never had to wipe anyone’s ass.
You formed a great relationship with the children’s mother, Marie. How did that form, and how did it help you in the wake of your breakup with Julian?
I reached out to Marie out of desperation. She was my gateway to Tyler. I wasn’t speaking to Julian, and Tyler was too young to drive. I needed her if I was going to see Tyler. When she and I started talking, a weight had lifted. She validated and encouraged my relationships with her kids, thanking me for loving them. It made perfect sense to me. Who better than the ex-wife to know what I was going through? Marie was an unexpected salve and instrumental in my healing.
Do you still identify as child-free despite your strong relationship with your ex-boyfriend’s children?
The short answer is yes. I’m a woman who knew I didn’t want kids, and I never had them. And then Julian and the kids happened. My strong relationships with Nicole and Tyler doesn’t necessarily make me feel as if I have kids — it’s a lot more nuanced and beyond explanation. I will say that when Nicole refers to me as her stepmother to friends or work colleagues (because it’s easier than explaining Girlfriend Mom), it tickles me. However, I don’t identify with stepmom. Girlfriend Mom is the only description that makes sense to me … that I can relate to — even now.