Maintaining separate households and thinking outside of the box ….

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I have one of the oddest, most unconventional lives of anyone I know, I think.  That is the reason for the name of my blog, The Husbandless Housewife.  I live in a house with my three boys and my stepdaughter.  My widowed fiance lives across town with two of his other children (He has an adult daughter who doesn’t live with him as well).  He goes to work and I stay at home (in my house) with his daughter mostly.  Most likely, this will not change for a long time.

How did we get here?  I was working for a large hospital system full time and coming home each day after ten hours a day to start over again at home with the boys and our nightly routines.  I was exhausted, I couldn’t keep up with my housework, we were eating out a whole lot and I couldn’t keep up with the boys activities either.  He was struggling to keep his house and children afloat as well with constantly rotating caregivers. About a year and a half ago, an opportunity to work from home (making more money) fell into my lap.  I hopped right on it.  I was able to work from home, didn’t have to commute for two hours a day anymore, and I could care for Star as well.  I was ecstatic.  It was actually one of the best and most exciting times in my life.  Just six months later, the company I was working for from home closed it’s doors.  I no longer had a job at all.  I really, really, really did not want to go back to the office.  I really enjoyed the clean, organized house, having time to cook every day, having time to know exactly what was going on with the boys and giving Star the full time care she deserves.  We definitely did throw ideas around about working part time and moving in together, which personally I think would have been relationship suicide for us at the time.  So we moved stuff around, I’m able to have Star with me here full time, he doesn’t have to pay caregivers anymore and I found a part time gig in the mornings when everyone is at school.  I help a woman (who I now consider a close friend) with quadriplegia.  Again, I was seriously thinking outside of the box on this one too as I have never done caregiving and knew nothing about quadriplegia.  I’ve actually come to love it though.  It has been extremely humbling and enlightening for me.  It also ensures that I get my butt up and ready every morning, which I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Here we are again, as we have just found out that the company that he works for is now going under.  He has been there for ten years.  I have complete faith that he will land something right away, but he will probably be taking a hefty cut in pay and work a lot of twelve hour days starting out.  That means we don’t know if we will still be able to financially support two households and he will need more help again with his kids.  We have been having more proactive conversations lately about how to live with all of the kids under the same roof and boundaries which makes the idea of living together a little more attractive, but I’m still scared out of my mind to take that step.

 

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Living apart together and dating single parents….When you’re dating ‘Super Dad’….

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Have you ever saw a single dad doting on his adorable children, loudly exclaiming, “My kids are my world!” and thought to yourself, “Wow, how cute, what a great dad, I would love to marry a guy like that”?  A lot of us have.  But what is it actually like to be in a relationship with Mr. My-kids-are-my-world guy?  Let me tell you.

At first, you see it just like everyone else does, it’s adorable and endearing and sunshine and rainbows.  You want to join in on making those children happy, you send them cookies, you buy them toys and overlook any misbehavior as the kids just being kids and dad just being a single dad.  It’s all good.  They are a little “shy” at first, but they’ll come around and grow to love you, you tell yourself.

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Time passes and you start to notice a few things.  It wasn’t very cute when one of the kids threw themselves to the floor in a tantrum and super dad passed it off as said child ‘was just tired’.  But you stay quiet, it’s not your place.  You also start to realize that maybe the kids aren’t very “shy”, they just don’t really like you taking up their dad’s time or space.

Soon enough, you start looking at the big picture.  Every time you come by super dad’s house, his bedroom now has tons of kids’ items scattered around as they change in there (despite having their own rooms and being old enough to dress themselves) and if you’re lucky, sometimes there’s even a kid sleeping in his bed when you arrive.  Short departures where the kids are left with a sitter are met with tears on the kids’ part and complete guilt on dad’s part.  When one of the children’s tablet’s batteries run out, you are expected to offer them your phone.  When you refuse, you are just mean.  If a phone call from one of the children is not immediately answered, expect ten more immediately after until dad picks up.  Don’t even think about having a private conversation with super dad if the children are within the vicinity, they will immediately feel ‘bored’ and dad will do anything that he can to make sure that he can provide proper entertainment.  Dad still thinks all of this makes him look like an adorable super dad, yet when you realize that he’s not just a ‘doting dad’ but he’s pacifying instead of parenting, it’s not so cute anymore.   You begin to resent super dad.

So what do you do?  It depends.  It depends on if super dad is open to change and or suggestions or not.  If he is not, just run.  Don’t look back.  Let me repeat myself, run.  If he is open to change and suggestions, if you choose to stick it out, do not expect change overnight.  It’s not going to happen and it will be hundreds of discussions and times that you will be fed up before you see significant change with a single dad who is used to guilt parenting instead of engaging in the ugly part of parenting.  In our case, it has been over three years and we are still not all the way there yet.  We have come a long way but we are still nowhere near the point to where it would be ideal to try to combine parenting styles and a living situation.  It has been a slow, uphill battle.  I’m in a relationship with a young widower who, even prior to losing his wife, was the ‘hero’ parent, he was not the disciplinarian.  His kids also lost their mother so he tried to make them as happy as he possibly could.  Understandable, yes.  Okay for the long term?  No.  If my super dad wants to be in a relationship with me, he must parent his children and put enough room aside for our relationship as well.