Years of love, years of slow change, and what's next?

SlowPoly

Member
Fifteen weeks, nearly sixteen. Mitch still hasn't told his family of origin that he is gonna have a kid. He told his team at work for scheduling purposes. A colleague he no longer works with heard through someone else, and sent him congratulations, but her curiosity about me went unanswered. So, whoopee, I'm an abstract reality to the colleagues he keeps at a professional distance. But I'm not even known to exist by his family or most of his (long distance) friends. The couple of friends who have ever heard of me don't know about the pregnancy.

I don't want to care about this. I want it to be okay with me that he's too busy, or it isn't urgent enough yet, or he's just waiting for the perfect timing. I accepted long ago that everything takes time with him, and that fully enmeshing our lives would never happen. I knew that some, but not all, of that outlook would change when we decided to have a child together.

But I am starting to feel resentful. I know he's not ashamed of me. I know he's just letting his default privacy settings run things as long as he can. I know he avoids conflict and drama. I imagine he is apprehensive about how each conversation will change each relationship. I know it's a huge step in realizing the life-altering shift of this nine-month moment. I know he's very busy at work right now. I know his telling or not telling them doesn't affect the reality of the pregnancy. I know all this. He is here for me and is usually willing to give me what I ask for day to day. But.

Honestly? I feel ignored. Outwardly, not in our interactions as a dyad. Does that even make sense? I feel negated. Hidden. I need acceptance. To be known. To matter. I want to be embraced as family, at least by him. I don't know what that means to him. I don't know what he and I are supposed to be building, if it's not a family we can identify with and share with our other families of loved ones and (in a limited way) with the bit of human society that just happens to touch our lives. I have a family with Woof and our boys, and a family of origin, and a chosen family of friends. They coexist without a whole lot of interaction these days, but each family knows they matter to me, and that the others matter, too. I think of Mitch and I (and the one on the way) as another family unit, but it's so separate and unacknowledged (on his side) that I'm starting to feel -- unauthentic? -- about calling it a family.

I didn't do a good job of communicating all of this when it came down on my head. Mostly I felt tired and sad and hoped I'd sleep on it then sort it out on my own without looking too grumpy on the outside. But I guess I communicated enough that he said two things to me this morning.

He said he'd tell his mom. (I don't want it to matter to me.) (But it's obvious it does.)

He said he would think about how he defines the word "family" - something he has never really thought of before, or thought mattered. (I don't care whether you tell others I'm your "family." I want *you* to think of us as family.)

This is as rocky as it gets, really. I'm supposed to have the tools for dealing with this. I do. I just hate it when I can't talk myself out of feeling grumpy over expectations. Hate it when the rational can't conquer the conditioned neediness.
 

Savedbygrace

New member
Hello,
Congratulations on your beautiful baby on the way! I read through your entire blog and I really appreciate your honesty and how everyone is trying to work through everything.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Hello,
Congratulations on your beautiful baby on the way! I read through your entire blog and I really appreciate your honesty and how everyone is trying to work through everything.

Thanks! It's starting to be really real. I've been feeling little movements (almost seventeen weeks), and yesterday it felt like a full somersault brushed against me from the inside. Bliss.

Mitch seems to really like hearing about and seeing the physical evidence of the pregnancy. He isn't generally emotionally demonstrative, but he's had several moments of seeming overwhelmed (in a good way) with the reality of what's happening.

Yesterday he talked to a close friend and ex, and told her he is having a daughter with me (she has heard of me before). They had a pretty long conversation, and I gather it was positive.
___

We arranged to have Mitch meet my (other) three kids this coming weekend. We'll leave Woof at home for this first meeting, so there aren't so many relationship dynamics going on at once. [Parenting dynamics multiply just like poly dynamics, and with two parents and three kids, there is too much going on for the new person to get more than a glimpse of the new people he's meeting. Woof actually suggested this plan, and it works for everyone.] We decided that for the first meeting we'd do a favorite hike that Mitch and I do every few weeks. The trail will let us spread out and let the kids take turns being near Mitch or getting space from him. There will be room for conversation and plenty to talk about, but also the work of the hike to focus on if everyone's feeling reticent.
___

Meanwhile, another week has gone by and Mitch hasn't told his mom that he is going to have a kid, that I exist, and that we are going to parent together. I don't know why it bugs me so much. I got a bit sulky over it again this weekend, each night as I realized that he really wasn't going to get around to it that day, either. Being tired in the evening probably also contributes to the timing. Sunday night, it hit me that it was a week since I'd been upset and we'd talked about it and he'd said he'd tell her. I couldn't be verbal about it - I just felt like it would be nagging. I just kind of disengaged and went to bed. He cuddled and held me and kissed my head. He shows love with touch. I told him I love him, too. And fell asleep soon after.

Last night (long weekend bonus night), when the blue meanies started to hit, I said "Sometimes I don't understand why something matters to me, and that almost makes it harder to just set it aside and move on. I don't know why it matters to me that you tell your mom. And I can't seem to avoid feeling grumpy over it." He said I must be human. I said (sarcastically) that I really don't get enough chance for overthinking and verbal processing in my life. He joked that it was good that he kept putting off telling his mom, to give me that opportunity. Ha. Ha. And then he held me like the night before, which really does tell me more than anything he'd be likely to say. He's there with me, and cares about my feelings. I fell asleep with his hands on my belly.

I don't know what's holding him back. I'm vaguely curious, and I could come up with a few different narratives of plausible psychobabble to explain it. But I don't really even need to know why - I don't think it would help. I just need that box checked off in the "important things to do, now that we're expecting" list. I want to know what the consequences will be, and to start incorporating that into my expectations.

I do appreciate that he didn't say "I'll tell her" again, or promise to do so by a certain date. He's already said he'd tell her, and he obviously isn't ready to commit to timing. He is unfailingly honest and doesn't blow smoke to get me off his back. I do appreciate these qualities.
 

Savedbygrace

New member
I am concerned that he is concerned/protective of you because he feels his mother will not react well to the great news....and he is avoiding the reaction for as long as possible?? I wonder if he feels she will not be I accepting of you? Not sure what is up, but that is usually why people avoid things. Clearly he loves you and is getting excited about the baby so that is wonderful. I would try to manage your expectations.
 

SlowPoly

Member
I am concerned that he is concerned/protective of you because he feels his mother will not react well to the great news....and he is avoiding the reaction for as long as possible?? I wonder if he feels she will not be I accepting of you? Not sure what is up, but that is usually why people avoid things. Clearly he loves you and is getting excited about the baby so that is wonderful. I would try to manage your expectations.

Thanks for your thoughts, sbg.

Mitch has said his mom will likely be so thrilled that she's having a grandchild that the details of my life won't be enough to overshadow that joy. I don't know how much about my continuing relationship with Woof Mitch will divulge. But as she lives near family and friends of mine, and I'm certain we have acquaintances in common, it seems likely she will learn most of the story, eventually. She likely will not approve of some of my lifestyle and family choices. But she is also a practical woman, and Mitch is important to her. I doubt she will translate any negative opinions into behavior that would strain whatever relationship we eventually grow into. So, yes, I think the delay is mostly to put off the discomfort of an awkward conversation. I don't think he's worried that there will be a dramatic negative reaction. So I won't be.
 

Savedbygrace

New member
Thanks for your thoughts, sbg.

Mitch has said his mom will likely be so thrilled that she's having a grandchild that the details of my life won't be enough to overshadow that joy. I don't know how much about my continuing relationship with Woof Mitch will divulge. But as she lives near family and friends of mine, and I'm certain we have acquaintances in common, it seems likely she will learn most of the story, eventually. She likely will not approve of some of my lifestyle and family choices. But she is also a practical woman, and Mitch is important to her. I doubt she will translate any negative opinions into behavior that would strain whatever relationship we eventually grow into. So, yes, I think the delay is mostly to put off the discomfort of an awkward conversation. I don't think he's worried that there will be a dramatic negative reaction. So I won't be.

I am so glad to hear you say this! So it will happen eventually. I hope you are feeling great! Keep in touch :)
 

SlowPoly

Member
Worlds collide: Mitch meets my kids!

We had a great hike today. I was nervous for about thirty seconds as the kids and Mitch met for the first time, but then I just fell into my usual comfortable ways with all of them. The two older kids stayed well ahead of us, occasionally letting us catch up, so it was mostly Mitch, me, and youngest hiking together. It felt comfortable and there was plenty to talk about, and plenty to enjoy without talking. When the pregnancy and baby came up, we discussed it just as casually as we always do. Nobody tried harder than usual or seemed unnaturally restrained. I guess I've surrounded myself with authentic people. :)

We went out to eat afterward, but we didn't sit around a table, so we missed out on the "family meal" experience. Still, it was really nice to finally have them all interact a bit. I have no idea when Mitch will next see any or all of them, but it's nice to be past the "first time" and to know they all have a better idea of this person/these people I spend the other part of my life with.

Next up (TBD) Mitch and Woof will meet at some point. Not nearly as critical for me, and definitely more stressful. They're just very different, and bring out different sides of me. Will be interesting, whenever we get around to it.

Mitch has told a couple more long-distance, emotionally close friends about his imminent fatherhood. I love that he is wanting to do that. I didn't spend the weekend with him as usual (because of logistics for the first meetup with the kids). That's probably a good thing, as it's easier to distract myself from the idea that he is letting hours tick away without calling his mom and telling her. That still matters to me, and I feel it's overdue. Maybe it bugs me a little less, with him telling other people he cares about, and with him spending some of his precious free time with me and the kids.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Mitch finally told his mom she's going to be a grandmother. He says she's very happy. He told her enough about me that members of his family and mine have already made a connection through mutual friends. We're gonna stick to the story that I'm divorced and will continue to spend roughly half my time with my kids in our town. Woof is fine with that, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm relieved. I knew it was just a matter of time. But it was getting to be SO much time...
 

SlowPoly

Member
I met my baby's grandmother

I happen to be visiting the region Mitch and I grew up in. His mom and sister still live here, and my brother lives in the same town. My brother had met Mitch's sister before (small town), so they started corresponding after Mitch told his mom about the baby and identified me. They arranged for us to meet.

The day before, Mitch's mom called him and asked a lot of questions about my living situation, including whether I was actually still married to Woof. Mitch's take on that is that she's worried that somehow the legality of Mitch's paternity will be tenuous (which it would be, were Woof and I still married). Mitch thinks his mom is afraid to lose the grandbaby she only just found out she's gonna have. He figured the only way to make her feel more secure was for her to get to know me.

The initial meetup ended up being me, my mom, my brother, and Mitch's mom. It was only a little bit awkward. Other friends dropped by (it was in a public place) and in the course of discussing the (now obvious) pregnancy, I blurted out that it was with a new partner, and then awkwardly identified Mitch's mom as the grandma. The friends looked surprised and asked about me "splitting up" with Woof. I went overboard to say we had not made a big deal of it and were still close. Later I said to Mitch's mom that most people in town who know me also know Woof, and I didn't want anyone badmouthing him around me, because we're still very close and supportive of each other. Me and my big mouth!

I like her. She asked me to call and meet up again before I fly home. I think we're going to get along. I'll meet the sister before I go home, too.
 

SlowPoly

Member
I haven't updated because "life is fine" is such a boring story.

I'm just into the third trimester of the pregnancy. We all have our quiet, content lives going on, and mine revolves more and more around the pregnancy. It's nice to have that focus, and to have time in my life to enjoy and reflect on this experience, which is probably my last pregnancy.

Mitch is willingly drawn into a tighter orbit with every passing week. To stretch a metaphor, we've crossed the event horizon, and life for all of us simply includes this baby. I spent some more time with Mitch's mother, and we are keeping in touch long distance. I didn't fully realize before meeting Mitch's family that this is the first baby in decades - the first (and likely only) grandchild and great-grandchild. I don't suppose we will ever spend a lot of time with extended family - they are far away, and visits happen once or twice a year. But it's nice to know so many people feel happy for this baby's existence.

Woof is, still and always, incredibly supportive. The kids have acclimated to changes as they've come. They are making room for her, and anticipating with good humor both the joys and difficulties of having a baby around. I get occasional messages from members of Woof's family that are supportive of me and welcoming to my baby (whom they know won't be biologically kin to them). That feels very good.


I feel like baby is going to find herself born into this nest we're weaving, and any adjustments that need to be made to fit her unique needs are going to come pretty easily to all of us.


Mitch and Woof still have not met. They just won't coincide in the same space without making an effort, and scheduling that effort hasn't been a priority. They will inevitably interact when Woof and the kids come to meet the baby. They would meet sooner if chance has it that Woof ends up driving me to the hospital in labor. The worst case is that they meet in a moment of medical crisis, and while that's not something I *want*, it wouldn't be the most important thing happening, and I imagine they'd both be focused on the crisis, not the awkwardness of meeting. So it's not an emergency to get them together ahead of time. But I'm hoping we make it happen.
 

Middlegirl

New member
I love hearing good news!

I am glad to hear your pregnancy is going so well. I am also glad you have two supportave partners that's great...

I like reading your blog. I love the boring day to day stuff. I hope the rest of your pregnancy stays drama free...
 

breezy

New member
I'm also very much enjoying your story. Particularly how it involves the kids and bringing a new baby into the mix. I know it's just part of what your normal life includes, but I'm curious about how your schedule works. How far apart are your two homes? What kind of contact do you have with the kids and W when you are with M and vice versa?

Sending you loving baby vibes :)
 

SlowPoly

Member
Oops. A couple of years went by...

Life got busy there for a while. Still is, really. How best to sum up, for anyone who is interested?

Baby was born, and everyone instantly fell in love. Mitch is a doting father, and Woof loves having a little person around again.

After an adjustment period (which included a move that put even more distance between Mitch's and Woof's homes), we settled into a weekly rhythm of me and the youngest living primarily with Mitch, but spending two days and two nights with Woof and the teens. Occasionally a teen or two comes to stay with me and Mitch and the toddler, or travels with us. Aside from some whiplash at the interchange between the chaos of the larger family and the peace of the smaller one, I like the schedule we have.

The usual issues that come up in relationships (at least mine) have continued to cycle like the tide - household standards, communication preferences, ups and downs of libido. But mostly everything is stable chaos on a foundation of contentment-for-now.

I have dreams of how we could live closer (maybe someday). I would love to spend less time and energy traveling between homes, and I would love for the teens to be able to flow back and forth on their own. I would really like to not live in the closet in the place I spend most of my time, with the limits that puts on my social openness and authenticity. As I haven't yet found the magic (or treasure in the form of liquid assets) that will let that happen, I shall continue to be patient and enjoy the goodness that we have, and the work we do to maintain it.
 

Tinwen

Active member
This sounds like a rare success story. Thanks for sharing.
 

Nadya

Member
SlowPoly, lovely to hear from you! I have been thinking about you and your families every now and then, hoping that you all are doing fine. Life like yours does sound busy! I am so happy for you (plural) that you got this baby! Also happy for the baby to arrive as a very welcome addition into this loving family.

I would really like to not live in the closet in the place I spend most of my time, with the limits that puts on my social openness and authenticity. As I haven't yet found the magic (or treasure in the form of liquid assets) that will let that happen, I shall continue to be patient and enjoy the goodness that we have, and the work we do to maintain it.
This. We are closeted, too, to most people around us - and it does limit my ability to be authentic and make new friends locally. However, it is best to enjoy what we have and be patient.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Just popping in to say things are still plugging along.

I spend a couple of days and nights a week with Woof and the teens, a couple of hours from where I live with Mitch. I’m usually exhausted by the chaos of the Woof home by the 48-hour mark, when we head back to Mitch’s. Still, the way the teens and Woof embrace me and the little one (now three years old!), and the way they take care of us and want to share *everything* in those two days...it’s just incredible to be loved like that.

I hate to keep the little one away from Mitch for too long - these are precious months, and he has only the one child. Weekends, I’ve been trying to take some time for myself, and give them more time alone together. While I like the special character of my alone-with-little-one time, I get a bit lonely on weekdays, when Mitch is at work. I haven’t connected much with people around here — I’m not a joiner, and our midweek absences preclude many of the activities we might otherwise try. So we have a few regulars we see at the playground or library, but no routine or consistent pals. By the time we are headed out to see Woof and the kids, I really need the socialization, the intimacy, the stimulation, and the Big, Crazy Family time. Until it’s too much and I need peace and quiet again.

Co-parenting with Mitch runs into obstacles, here and there. I make a lot of assumptions based on my prior parenting experience, and my ideas don’t always line up with his. Meanwhile, he wants the chance to learn from the day to day, without my experience becoming the shortcut to solving all the problems or choosing all the paths. We have learned so much about ourselves and each other. And we continue to improve in communication and mutual understanding.

Co-parenting with Woof has old, familiar challenges, which are almost past the most difficult stage (so far) with youngest teen. The older two are fairly independent (though still living at home) at this point. They seem to be thriving, and I am proud as a mom can be of the young adults they’ve become. They seem far more engaged with the world and each other than I recall being, at their ages. They have so much intelligence and care and humor. And they still accept my mothering, even as we grow into the friendship of familiar adults.

Woof questions some of my/Mitch’s parenting choices with little one. On the one hand, that’s totally annoying, because little one is not his kid, and I shouldn’t have to justify my and Mitch’s parenting decisions to him. On the other hand, he only says anything because (a) He cares so much about little one, and (b) He doesn’t want to feel like our (his and my) ways of raising kids have been rejected, either for cause or on a whim. And honestly, Mitch has expressed skepticism in the other direction, though there’s less often an opportunity for him to highlight it. So I end up feeling that differences are inevitable, and occasional expression of them is understandable. I try to stay in a place of empathy about it, and use it as a chance to revisit decisions, process conflicts, and learn along the way.

So there are rough patches, and I’m eternally working on my compassion and communication in all directions, but I wouldn’t want not to have the package deal that includes the bumps.

And that’s the SlowPoly update.
 
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