I have a child. She’s not a child; I should perhaps say I have offspring. She’s almost 22. She lives here, with me and my pretend-husband.
I don’t have a job. I get money every month from my father and I earn a little bit as a church organist.
My pretend-husband has a job and pays a lot of his income out in child support. He is stretching his finances to the absolute limit to provide a house with utilities, phones and internet for all of us.
He has two children, who come to visit for 6 weeks in the summer and 2 at Christmas, 8 weeks total. They spend 3 of those 8 weeks at his parents’ house, in another city.
This means that the kids spend 5 weeks, total, per year, in this house.
This is a 4-bedroom house. He insists that 2 of the bedrooms be reserved and preserved for his kids. The kids who spend 5 weeks per year in them. A third bedroom is our bedroom, and the last one serves as his office.
My 22 year old, who lives here, has to craft a room out of bookshelves, carving a space for herself out of the common part of the house. She doesn’t mind.
He resents the space she is using. I resent having two perfectly good bedrooms sit empty, and a third that is only his. I have nowhere that is mine, and my child is stuffed into a cubby made of bookshelves. When she asked if our books could be moved off of the bookshelves in her “room”, he got upset. He got over it, eventually.
I grew up with my dad in another city, and I visited him for 2 months at a time in the summers, usually. I never had my own room when visiting him. I have a brother, who never had his own room in the summers either. Even when we were teenagers, we camped out on couches or in spare rooms. Those rooms weren’t held in trust for us; my dad and his family made room for us when we came. I have a really, really hard time accepting that my pretend-husbands’ children need their own rooms enshrined for 47 weeks each year. That sounds disrespectful, I know. It’s been simmering away in me for a long time.
I can’t say anything. I can’t talk about it because I’m not contributing anything. I buy groceries when I can, and I give him money for our phones when I can, which is not often. Because I’m not contributing, I feel less than equal. And since I feel less than equal, I feel like I can’t have any issues with him.
I know that’s harmful. I know it’s poor modeling for my daughter. I am trying very, very hard not to triangulate her when I do get upset about him.
I love him. I am happy being quasi-married to him, and I envision a future for us for many years, if not for our lifetimes.
My child will finish her degree and move on, long before his kids stop visiting. In 3 or 4 years, this won’t matter. But right now, I feel tense about it. The house is crowded. It was crowded before my child moved in, and now she is living in the limited common space so it’s even more crowded. I like having her here. She came with her dog and another cat. We have a lot of animals. I can’t imagine how it will be when his kids are here too. Crazy chaos.