When I met Rob and we raced forward with our relationship, I was concerned about Morgan, my daughter who was seven years old at the time and in first grade. Was she alright with my dating? Post my divorce, I had dated two men: David and Todd. She knew David well and we spent a lot of time with him and his two daughters who were Morgan's age. We even traveled together. But beyond a simple hug, she never saw us be affectionate and she knew David simply as Mommy's friend. Morgan never met Todd.
After several months, I told Morgan that Mommy was dating Rob. At first, she thought it really weird and then she got used to it. When Rob and I decided to buy the new house and told her that Rob and I were getting married, she was ecstatic. In the few months Rob and I had dated, Rob and Morgan became very close. She loved him and she went to school and told her teacher that "My mom and I are getting married to Rob!" And she quickly called him Daddy. They were very close and Morgan loved to do all the things that Rob did-- diving off a boat, fishing, playing with lobsters and did fish, you name it. And I know that Rob loved Morgan.
Rob's two daughters Kalie and Nicole? Well that was a very different story. First, Rob told me that his girls were fine with his dating again. He and Terri had separated in July, six months prior, and Terri had a new boyfriend and everyone had moved on. Of course, that wasn't true. Terri had just moved out of their home a few weeks prior to our meeting and his girls were in deep emotional pain. In my defense, I had no idea. Completely clueless, I was or trust me, I would never in a million years have started dating this man.
The first time I met Nicole, Rob's oldest daughter, my first impression was that she was a very troubled girl. While she was pretty, I could tell in a second that she was smoking pot and probably doing other drugs. At one time, she had been a very good student but currently was barely making it through her classes, often ditching classes, smoking a lot of pot, and had some very questionable "friends." Nicole and her mom were not on good terms and Nicole was refusing to go to her mom's house for her weeks of custody. Rob said that Terri didn't like Nicole. They both told me of one story in which Terri had confiscated Nicole's phone. They were at Albertsons, the local grocery store, and had run into Terri, who had followed them both up and down isles trying to tell Rob that she had received many text messages on Nicole's phone in which the texter was trying to arrange drug buys with her. Rob thought it funny and blew it off. The result was that Rob no longer encouraged Nicole to go to her mother's house at all and she was living fulltime with Rob.
By the time we moved into our new home, Nicole had a new boyfriend, Tim. Tim was a nice enough boy but he, like Nicole, was going through some major issues. They spent hours and hours at the new house swimming, making out and nearly having sex in our loft, sleeping, going out and partying, and asking Rob for money, which he dutifully handed over.
Right away, I was already starting to get upset about that scenario. I demanded that we put some rules in the house because this was not working for me. No boys upstairs. Period. No making out in front of a seven year old child. No having sex in the house. No drugs EVER. All agreed.
One day shortly after moving into our new house, Nicole screamed at Bob: "I hate this house! I never wanted to move here. I want my old house. You never even asked!"
I was floored. She wasn't happy? She now had a big new house, a bigger room, a pool, central A/C, a better neighborhood. I thought all the kids should be thrilled, right? Stupid, clueless, gullible me.
And there that was Kalie. I really liked Kalie from Day One. She seemed kind, thoughtful, intuitive, smart and savvy. Initially, according to Rob, she told her dad she was fine with him dating but, really, what is a child supposed to say?
After Rob and I got engaged but before we moved into the house, Rob, Morgan, Kalie and I went to my BFF's Julie and Shane's for the weekend. While Rob disappeared to find a bar and drink, Kalie and I went shopping to look for a dress for our wedding. We found a beautiful one that looked amazing on her at Ann Taylor. It was a little pricey at $250 but I bought it for her anyway. I told her if we found something we liked better, we could always return it.
Rob flipped out and demanded we return the dress. Kalie was really upset. I think the dress signified something significant for her: something beautiful in the face of ugliness, and when she wore it, she felt pretty and hopeful. That set Rob and Kalie on a collision course. Kalie was sometimes openly hostile to her dad. Rob blew it off. "Kalie and I are tight. You just wait and see. She'll soon understand that her dad is the only one who can help her be successful in life and that her mom's a loser."
And so he started badmouthing Terri in front of Kalie like you can't believe. And there I was, going right along with it.
We'd hear things like: Your mom doesn't have enough money to pay for that house she rented. Without me, she'd have nothing because I'm the one with the money and she still depends on me. Her budget doesn't work out. Her job is stupid. I could've gotten her a better paying job at the company (they worked for the same place) but she's just too lazy.
I, who earned a substantial living and truly was self sufficient, would hear about her income and expenses and would be baffled. Wow, how was she going to pay those bills? And, truth be told, I was pissed off. Thanks to Rob's ex wife, I was the one writing check after check trying to cover these enormous expenses. I was literally drowning and the more horrible stories about this woman that I heard, the angrier and more frustrated I became.
It wasn't long before Rob and Kalie got in a huge fight in which Rob threw her cell phone in the pool, Terri came to pick up Kalie from our house, they called the police on Rob, and Kalie and Rob didn't speak for a few months. I've already covered that event in this blog so I won't rehash it here.
"The kids are fine!" Rob told me when I brought up the chaos going on in our home.
No,Rob, your kids are not alright.
And our wedding date kept getting closer and closer.