Am I Wrong? Am I a Bad Mother?

I want to write down my feelings. I don’t know if I am going to drag my mouse across and hit the ‘Publish’ button. Will I regret it if I do? We’ll see.

I’m starting to wonder just what I have done. Being a single Mum was never in my plans – is it ever in anyone’s really? And then putting someone else who wasn’t the father in the position of ‘Dad’ when he never truly will have a complete share in his investment of time, finances, effort and energy. Ross often questions this and discusses it with me. I was always very apprehensive of having a relationship with anyone for fear of putting them in this exact position. Am I allowed to have feelings on this? But then again, was I supposed to put my life on hold for the rest of my life? So many questions.

When we moved house and area, Grace had no choice. She was coming with us whatever. I have residency. She just had to adjust. Change schools, change area, change house, have a new bedroom. So there was enough change happening in her life for any 6 year old to deal with.

I found out just after I got back from my holiday that, not only did Grace’s father have a girlfriend but he was engaged. I wondered how long it would take him to tell me.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what he does but I do care about what affects Grace.  I also found out at this point that Grace’s father had made the new woman (I say ‘new’ but I will explain why she isn’t in a moment!) have a Polygraph test. A lie detector test. He had basically believed that since dating this woman (just after we split up) she has been cheating on him. A bit rich coming from the man who slept with numerous other woman behind my back and even bought a house with one of them (yep, I am a blind, ignorant fool).  What sort of way is that to have a relationship?

Grace has mentioned this woman a number of times and also spoken about how her father and this woman constantly argued, weren’t together and we have even been told that she is his cleaning lady. Now they are engaged….apparently.

I say apparently. Just before Grace went to her fathers for that first time after moving here, he rang me to complain about not being kept in the picture on what was happening to her. It was complete rubbish and I reminded him that I would always let him know of anything that happened which would affect Grace. As I would expect from him.  Suddenly I was informed that he ‘had a girlfriend’ and he was ‘going to tell Grace this weekend’. That was mid-July. Grace came back to tell me that her father has a girlfriend and it was this lady and they had rings. Grace told me that this lady was going to get her a pink laptop and a pink television. I did discuss the ring situation with Grace’s father and he informed me that these were ‘friendship rings’ and that he was going to see how their holiday went in September and whether this would change things to more than this. He was insistent that they were ‘friendship rings’ (he is 45 for crying out loud!).

Then came the  following weekend and Grace went to her fathers for the second weekend in a row as he had missed out on a weekend when we moved. This time Grace came back vocalising about how ‘Daddy and X were getting married’ whilst he was in the car basically trying to stop her talk to me about it.  I sent her inside with Ross. I then asked him again outright if he was engaged. He once again was insistent.  I then went inside to find one very confused little girl talking about ‘Daddy and X getting married in a church’.  She was sad and happy about the wedding. Sad because she didn’t really like X but happy because she had been promised a sparkly purple dress for the occasion and she had been told she was going to have ‘a new brother and two new sisters’ and should she call X ‘Mum’ and that even though this boy would be her brother he isn’t really X’s son.

Poor child.

Over the next couple of days I spent lots of time with Grace, gently asking her questions, helping her to understand her feelings and, in the process, trying to find out what had happened.  It turns out that this woman sat Grace down and told her that her Dad and her were getting married, she was going to have new brothers and sisters and she could come to a big party and wear a sparkly purple dress.  In the meantime, Grace’s father tells me to this day he ‘doesn’t do family’.

I was furious. I texted Grace’s father to tell him I would like to speak to him. So, after Ross took Grace out to go shopping (that man is a saint sometimes), I called and spoke to Grace’s father.  I told him that I felt to bombard Grace with a new/old relationship one weekend and a marriage the following is out of order. X was wrong to do this. At least I had the decency to offer that he meet Ross before Grace really got to know him (incidentally, Grace’s father refused this offer). He has not done any such thing with me and now I find this woman trying too hard with Grace. I think I know why. She is so insecure in her relationship with Grace’s father that she feels she has to ‘buy’ Grace’s love to get her father’s attention. I told him that I would like Grace to refrain from seeing this woman again until I meet her (I knew her by sight when I was still with Grace’s father).

Despite my concerns about this situation, I trusted that Grace’s father had taken on board my comments and would behave appropriately. Grace went away with her father last Tuesday and I arranged to speak to Grace on the Saturday. Then on Saturday, when I spoke to Grace, I was told that woman X had given her a ‘friendship ring’, a Hello Kitty one.  It feels like Grace’s father is just not listening to me. And does Grace think that ‘friendship ring’ is the same as ‘engagement ring’?!

Tomorrow evening (Monday) I shall be meeting woman X. At the moment I am not quite sure what to say. I don’t care about her relationship with my ex, what they do with their lives is nothing to do with me. BUT what I do care about is what affects Grace. She has always come first in all this.

So, do I talk to this woman about the fact that I don’t agree with the example that she is setting my daughter?

That she has basically careered into my daughters life when Ross was respectful, giving Grace time to get to know him and sleeping in the spare room for the first several months whenever he would stay. Grace has repeatedly asked to call Ross ‘Dad’ and he is still refusing to let her do that until we are either married or have a child of our own.

That ever since Grace has known her, all her father has done is argue with woman X?

That she has AGREED to a polygraph test when any self-respecting woman would have told him to take a running jump and shown him the back of their heels?

That she is trying to ‘buy’ my daughters affection in a bid to gain the attention from Grace’s father?

That woman X first became a mother at the age of 17 and a Grandmother at the age of 35?

Is it me? Am I wrong? Am I a bad mother? I have never withheld Grace from her father but I am now starting to wonder if this is the only way I make sure I do what is right by my daughter.

 

 

 

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  3. August 10, 2013 / 4:56 pm

    You’re right, no-one truly plans to be a single parent, but when it happens it’s essential that any children are loved and cherished by both parents. It’s not possible to buy a child’s love and you are right to be concerned by the mixed messages she’s getting from her real dad!
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  4. August 9, 2013 / 11:02 am

    What a situation! Why would this woman agree to anything so humiliating? Does she value herself so low? Hope Grace adjusts to the new circumstances and doesn’t get stressed. hugs
    Galina V recently posted..Doodles on the sandMy Profile

  5. twinstiarasandtantrums
    August 8, 2013 / 8:52 am

    Hi

    I know exactly how you feel, I’m also in the same situation as you, AND I did stop my ex from seeing the girls for a period last year. Mainly because he kept letting them down and always put his social life before them.

    Thanks to his girlfriend (who is lovely and I feel for her as I know he treats her exactly the same way he treated me) we resumed contact again in may. Although H is there to mediate and help, as I will have no contact with him myself because his behaviour towards me is appalling. He hasn’t changed!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, even if you stop contact to try to protect grace, you won’t change your ex. You will look like the bad guy when she’s a teenager because she will demand to know why you did what you did and will possibly resent you for it 🙁

    This is a frustrating fact, because deep down we only do it to protect our children and not because we’re bad mums or want to cause malice. But they won’t see it that way! Unfortunately our choice of ex was poor, and we have to deal with those consequences every day. But we need our children to grow up and come to that realisation themselves!

    I’m lucky that my ex’s girlfriend is lovely this time around. But the one before wasn’t and I’m sure there will be many more to come that wont be either. All I can do is be there for my girls and try to make them realise that their fathers life isn’t normal and that they are truly loved by me no matter what.

    I have never spoken about my feelings or problems with my ex on my blog, as he can be a malicious piece of work and would do anything to take away the things I love. I have a friend who unfortunately is being taken to court by her ex for writing about him on hers. He wants it shut down! Just be careful how much you share on here as I would hate for you to end up in the same situation.

    Much love and good luck lovely xxxx
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  6. August 7, 2013 / 7:32 pm

    Hi Victoria –

    A slightly different ‘spin’ here… I’m a single dad, and have been since my son was six months old (he’s 16 next week). His mum, for various reasons, was never able to maintain a consistent and appropriate (he’s autistic, which made things slightly more complicated) relationship with him, despite all the support and help I tried to give. There were missed contacts, long absences with no contact, and all sorts of ‘stuff’ (introducing him to new boyfriends without my knowledge, ignoring him/us when she was with friends who did not know she had a child etc) that I found very difficult to cope/deal with… In the end I took her to court to try to get some ‘rules and guidelines’ which would be mutually acceptable and also ensure my son’s emotional well-being.

    After a long battle that terrified the life out of me (even after six years she still, had she wanted to, probably held all the ‘power’ and could have broken up our home on a whim – such is the UK court system’s view of motherhood/fatherhood) the court eventually saw the difficulties I was trying to negotiate themselves when she failed to attend appointments with relate, a court appointed child psychologist/autism expert, and even to contact her own solicitor when requested. In the end, they made contact at my discretion.

    Anyhow, coming to the chase (sorry this has been a long reply, but I thought I should provide the context first)… Despite all of these issues I never once considered ‘withholding’ contact – I always took the view that any issues I had with her parenting were issues for us to sort out, as adults, and that when she was unable to do that it was my job to pick up the slack. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one moment suggesting that ALL absent fathers (or absent mothers) should have the opportunity for contact with their kids – there would certainly be exceptions – but I do think withholding contact should be a last resort. Additionally, different people do have different ideas about what parenting means, and while my own views about ‘appropriate’ behaviour are certainly closer to yours that doesn’t necessarily mean that I (or you, or anyone who agrees with ‘us’) is right. Certainly there are lots of single mums out there who seem comfortable to introduce their kids to their latest bloke in just the kind of casual manner you describe so negatively in regard to your ex, but I’m sure nobody would suggest they should be separated from their kids on the basis of value judgements that their ex-husbands might make about them?

    As I said, a very different ‘spin’ to most of the replies you have had, but I think the adults on all sides of this situation should be talking much more than they currently are. I also think it would probably be counter-productive to talk about Ross in such glowing terms (even if they all apply) and holding him up as a model for your ex to aspire to. Your ex wasn’t Ross when you met him, he wasn’t Ross when you were married to him and he wasn’t Ross when you had Grace together, so why expect him to be now?

  7. August 6, 2013 / 7:27 am

    Lots of good advice / opinions in these comments. I just wanted to pick up on one thing you said… “yep, I am a blind, ignorant fool”. NO you’re not. The only fool in the post I just read is your ex husband. Never, ever feel bad for having been hoodwinked by a cheater. Good luck meeting the X.

  8. August 5, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    I can see this from all angles.

    I once dated a guy with a daughter. I knew nothing about children and had no idea how to interact with her. It was a steep learning curve. She grew to love me very quickly, but I never ever met her mother. Perhaps X is still learning the right ways to interact with Grace? I probably would have met her mum given the chance. I was curious about her. She had raised a wonderful little girl and I had nothing but respect for her, but I doubt she’d have seen it that way.

    Me and hubs split up for a year when Bunny was little. I knew that when our relationship ended, I’d have no control over who he introduces my daughter to. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. I met the woman. She was awful. She hated children. I hated Bunny spending time with them. I hated the idea of her climbing into bed with them in the morning for cuddles. But at the end of the day, as much as I hated it, I had no control over where hubs took her or who with. He had rights and Bunny loved him. She turned out to be fickle, jealous and vindictive, and he left her as soon as he sussed her out.

    You are a wonderful mother and I agree that there is no way she should be called “mum”, not unless Grace chooses too after they are married.

    Their relationship does sound weak, but their relationship, the ladies age, whether she has children or not, the polygraph test, unfortunately are not things you get to have a say in. Having never met her, are these things enough to judge her as a bad person? The question I’m asking, is what actually is it that bothers you about this woman? From reading your post, it seems that your anger should be directed at her father. He has been lying to you and lying to Grace. Perhaps X told Grace the truth because he was going to drag it out longer?

    Of course you aren’t a bad mother. You are a wonderful mother. And as sad and horrible as it is, you might just have to let them work it out for themselves. Meeting her might be a good idea, but I don’t think going in all guns blazing to put her in her place is the right way to go about it. If he is known for being a liar, it could be that he has lied about what X is like too. She might be lovely.

    If she’s genuinely a bad egg… Sometimes it’s worthwhile to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

    It’s not a nice situation to be in, I’ve been there and all I can do is wish you luck. Grace will always know you are her mum and nobody can ever take that away.

    xxxx
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  9. August 5, 2013 / 9:18 pm

    No, no, no! You are not a bad mother!! Don’t ever think that!!
    Like Mum in a Hurry says everything has been said….I just wanted to send you some hugs xxx

  10. August 5, 2013 / 8:58 pm

    Oh God! Sorry you’re going through this. Just remember Gracie is growing into a lovely young girl because of YOU because you are grounded and a GOOD MOTHER.
    Rachael Jess recently posted..Postcards from the edgesMy Profile

  11. Kelly Finn
    August 5, 2013 / 8:46 pm

    Oh Victoria! You are most defiantly not a bad mother! I can totally understand why young Grace is confused but to me it seems more like her father fault. Hers the one not being truthful to anyone 🙁 I sure hope your meeting with this lady goes well. Xx

  12. August 5, 2013 / 4:02 pm

    You are NOT NOT NOT a bad mother! I think everything else has been said, but I just wanted to emphasise. Sending you hugs and hoping you are feeling okay now. x
    Mum in a Hurry recently posted..How do you follow blogs?My Profile

  13. August 5, 2013 / 1:36 pm

    Gosh that does sound all a bit complicated. You’re an excellent mother, I only have to read your posts about Grace and how much detail you record about her, it just shows how close you both are.

    I think it might help if you met X for coffee and ask her to ease off sharing any information at the moment because of the effect its having on Grace and that agree to discuss how you share this type of information with her (probably through you in the first instance). xx
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  14. Emma from over at LIFE AS IT IS
    August 5, 2013 / 1:08 pm

    Be yourself Vicky, and follow your gut instinct. Sorry that you are going through this… Grace is so young.
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  15. Mrs Teepot
    August 5, 2013 / 1:05 pm

    Oh huni. Firstly you are NOT a bad mother, far from it.
    But boy does this sound painfully complicated. It seems Grace’s father has no regard for her feelings or needs, you do need to protect her, she is a child, so I would say yes, you need to talk to woman X and tell her how you feel. If Grace’s father isn’t going to listen then maybe she will.
    I really hope that you manage to sort this situation out.

  16. Paul Wandason
    August 5, 2013 / 12:55 pm

    I’m just a random bloke on the internet, so I guess my opinion is somehwat moot with this really tricky situation…

    That said, and for whatever it’s worth, I think that the fact that you’re both so vexed and confused shows that you *are* a good mother. You love Grace and you’re putting her first.

    That’s clear in wanting to restrict Grace’s contact with X (who certainly sounds like a character I would want to keep my children away from), and I’d think you have every right to enforce that.

    It’s a bit more tricky with Grace’s (I’ll say “biological”) father as he probably has rights, but at the same time, in my (random bloke’s) opinion, he’s not putting Grace first with how he’s dealing with his relationship, and doesn’t deserve them.

    I think you’re doing the right thing by talking to woman X – she may see your side and react accordingly. If not, at least you’ve tried to take the high road, and I can’t think of anything more which could be tried if you should decide to take some further action.

    I have issues with my in-laws and how they behave with my daughters. I’d love to restrict access, but both my wife (understandably) and social ‘convention’ aren’t with me and my concerns. Well, my situation is a far cry from yours, but I do a little bit understand the dilemma.

    Good luck for tonight – really hope it goes well for all of you!

    (And a thumbs up to Ross – he sounds very respectful and senstive towards Grace!)
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  17. nortonmum
    August 5, 2013 / 12:48 pm

    When I met my (divorced) husband he had a 4yo son(now 24). I had no children, his ex treated me as a childminder. Every day of school hols he was with me when husband at work. He spent every weekend with us in term time. Now we have our son I cant believe she spent so little time with her son, I miss mine when he’s on a school trip.
    All people are different Victoria, your child is the most precious thing you have. You can’t please everyone so do what you think is best. although it’s hard. You are a good caring mum and Ross has taken on a roll as I did. We all got through it & are still a family.
    nortonmum recently posted..They think its all over…My Profile

  18. August 5, 2013 / 12:14 pm

    Victoria, how can you think you are a bad mother when you are only putting Graces’s best interests at heart. I hope the situation improves for you all.

    Your ex & X’s relationship does sound weak and it’s all too common to buy children’s affections , it’s happening to a friend of mine and it’s very stressful. I totally agree about the polygraph, very Jeremy Kyle!

    I’m not sure “That woman X first became a mother at the age of 17 and a Grandmother at the age of 35” makes her a bad example though.

    • August 5, 2013 / 12:27 pm

      Thanks for your very constructive comments and support. Really appreciate it xx

  19. August 5, 2013 / 11:21 am

    I am sorry to hear that you are in this situation.
    I guess I can sort of see this from both sides – from her point of view she may be just trying to make a good impression and look out for your daughter – without actually realising the impact she maybe having. I think you ought to be clear about what it is that bothers you though, as I personally don’t think the fact she was a mother at 17 (haha like me) has got anything to do with it really. I’d be almighty pissed off if someone else wanted my kids to call them “mum” though, but I also see the other side in that my husband has brought my 16 year old up since he was 5 and he, most wholely, is his dad. But then the sperm donor has never been around so I think that is different. I do think it’s your ex that I have the problem with. I hope you can sort this all out.
    You are an amazing mother so don’t ever question that.
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    • August 5, 2013 / 12:20 pm

      Thank you so much for your constructive comments. I think you are right about the age situation. I really appreciate your support Joy xx

  20. August 5, 2013 / 10:36 am

    I was this child, my dad left my mum for her maternity cover! I had to visit them every weekend and I hated it. It was fine at first but then they had a child together and I was sidelined. The fairy tales are true when it comes to step-mum’s. At 21 I told my dad I wish that my mum never let me see him as he didn’t know me. He still doesn’t. You must do what feels right, perhaps a break would be better at the minute because I think all children do what to know where they come form. The person I call dad on my blog is my step-dad who has been in my life since I was 2 ;0)

    Good luck x
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    • August 5, 2013 / 12:19 pm

      I’m very much of the opinion that Grace will make her own mind up in the end and see what is right and wrong – hopefully as a result of mine and Ross’ parenting. Thank you so much xx

  21. August 5, 2013 / 9:08 am

    Sounds to me like you’re doing the best that you can. They’re relationship sounds like a strange one but if you withhold her from her dad, she might hold this against you in the future, not fully understanding why you did it. I think that as she spends the majority of her time with you, you can do all you can to ensure that her life is happy, stable and loving when she is there. I have no doubt that you will maker sure she turns into a happy, well-adjusted adult. Good luck with the meeting, just conduct yourself well, you can do no more than that.

    • August 5, 2013 / 12:18 pm

      Very good points there Suzanne, thank you. I really appreciate your supportive words xx

  22. Kris Mayer
    August 5, 2013 / 9:06 am

    I think this boils down to 2 words-both of which you and Ross have got in spades and your ex wouldn’t know in a month of Sundays- RESPECT and INTEGRITY.

    You both know that the right to be called Mum/Dad means something and isn’t a casual throw away ‘right’. Grace at least wants to consider Ross in this way because there is a good relationship as a foundation. She doesn’t know this woman-and she’s already got an excellent Mother.

    If a year or two on, your ex and this woman are still going strong (unlikely) then may be the time to consider the thorny subject of what she should be referred to as- but not now- no way!!

    • August 5, 2013 / 12:17 pm

      Wonderful comments, thank you so much. I really appreciate your support and agree my ex and those words! x

  23. August 5, 2013 / 8:38 am

    Good luck for your meeting, you’re doing the right thing meeting her now before things escalate.
    My mum’s second marriage ended bitterly with her ex promising the world to his daughter (my half sister) and taking her on holidays he couldn’t afford whilst not paying any maintenance.
    Your ex’s focus should be on what is best for Grace and that doesn’t mean filling her head with (what could be) unfulfilled promises. He and his current partner need to appreciate all the recent changes that have been happening and treat her as the little girl that she is. Lots of cuddles, lots of fun, without promises that may not happen, because she will remember.
    You’re a great mum, doing your best for her. Write everything down you want to say and keep calm, she’ll get a secret satisfaction if you cry.
    The important person is all this is Grace, not some would-be step mother with her eye on a big dress.
    Good luck! X
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    • August 5, 2013 / 12:17 pm

      Well said re Grace – I totally agree. Thank you so much for your support x

  24. August 5, 2013 / 8:21 am

    Thank heaven’s I never had to deal with any of this, my ex moved to another country with his woman (and they split up soon afterwards but he’s still there, still alone some 12 years later) I really don’t envy you and poor Grace.
    I agree with the previous comments though, when you speak to this woman, do talk only about Grace and don’t get pulled into any relationship conversations.
    Fingers crossed that the situation will improve for you and Grace, I doubt it will for your ex and his girlfriend/fiancee/cleaner/friend xxx
    Anne recently posted..Update on the School SituationMy Profile

    • August 5, 2013 / 12:16 pm

      Thanks for your comment and I really appreciate the support. xx

  25. August 5, 2013 / 7:19 am

    What an awful situation he has put Grace into and how confusing for her. It sounds like she is being made a pawn in her Dad and X’s childish games. You have done absolutely nothing wrong. You are totally right to set some rules and try to unpick what is going on here.
    And Ross is amazing. What a brilliant dad to Grace, he doesn’t need to be her father to be a great dad.
    Good luck meeting the woman.
    X
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    • August 5, 2013 / 11:04 am

      Thanks Sarah, I feel exactly the same about Grace being a pawn. You are so right about Ross – I am very lucky 🙂 x

  26. August 5, 2013 / 5:27 am

    Hi Victoria, what a tough situation for you and Grace. I agree, woman X comes across as very needy and insecure in her relationship with your X, which is probably why she is ‘trying too hard’ and being inappropriate with Grace.

    You are being a wonderful mother by wanting to protect Grace, this must be so confusing and unsettling for her. Good luck tomorrow, focusing on Grace alone, like someone else said, sounds like the best way forward when you meet with woman X. I feel sorry for her in many ways and wonder how long the relationship will really last with your X, taking a polygraph test is not the best of beginnings, I wish she had more faith in herself that she deserves better.

    Thinking of you and Grace, you are doing wonderfully, never doubt it xxxx

    • August 5, 2013 / 11:03 am

      Thank you so much for your comments Cat, I really appreciate your support x

  27. August 4, 2013 / 11:35 pm

    You are certainly not a bad mother. I went through hell with my fathers relationships, in fact, at 40 I still am! What I would suggest is to keep the conversation strictly about your daughter. If she is insecure, she is likely to try and steer you towards relationship talk, don’t let her, she will make you the bad guy. Just explain that your daughter doesn’t need the ins and outs of their relationship. She is just a child for goodness sake, she shouldn’t know any of this yet.
    Good luck xx

    • August 4, 2013 / 11:48 pm

      Brilliant advice. Thank you so much Jo x

  28. August 4, 2013 / 11:26 pm

    I don’t think there is any issue in X being a young mum or grandmother.

    However, you are the complete opposite re being a bad mother! You are not and very obviously have Grace’s best interests at heart. It is no wonder she is very confused at the moment and I think X must have some very deep issues of her since, as you say, she agreed to a polygraph and says Grace has to call her “mum”. Way out of line and my 22 year old sister would feel very uncomfortable with that. In fact her boyfriend’s girls asked to call her “mum” and she said no, that to call her by name was more right.

    Xx
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    • August 4, 2013 / 11:33 pm

      Thanks lovely. I really appreciate your supportive comments xx

  29. Yana
    August 4, 2013 / 11:25 pm

    No, Victoria, you are not. You are solely looking out for the welfare of your daughter, and by the sounds of it, your ex is playing some serious mind games on the new Missus, as well as your poor little girl. It’s not right, and even though I am not a mother myself, I can completely see your point of view. x

    • August 4, 2013 / 11:34 pm

      Thank you so much – I think you are so right about mind games Yana. He was like that with me too x

  30. August 4, 2013 / 11:21 pm

    I’m so sorry you are in this situation. It mirrors a lot of what I went through when my parents split up.
    In fact I went through it for a few years, with different women, accept with each one I was made to take flowers to them, to almost worship them, and be grateful of the time they were allowing me with my dad. It turned out my dad was saying awful things about me to these women. So I guess it could be worth considering that he is going to his new partner and saying “Grace will like you if you buy her X”. Maybe it’s not the case but worth keeping in mind?
    I chased my dad for years, trying to build a relationship and a month ago decided that after 12 years of chasing, and other factors, it was best to cut contact.

    Good luck for tomorrow. You certainly are NOT a bad mother. x
    Lauren recently posted..I Am An Awful MotherMy Profile

    • August 4, 2013 / 11:34 pm

      I hadn’t thought of it from that perspective but you could be very right about him controlling her. Thank you for the words of support 🙂 x

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