Back at the beginning of our relationship, My Lovely Man and I prided ourselves on our maturity and on our good fortune... On the fact that we could manage all of the various areas of our lives so beautifully, saving the special romantic moments 'just for us.'
"How marvellous," we cried, "to have this love affair... how free, how very modern, how detached from the stress and ordinariness of the rest of life, how wonderful to be individuals again."
... and how wrong we were. As it stands, I'm having murderous thoughts about his ex girlfriend... let me explain.
I am the only one of my female friends who, when drawn into discussion about possible future forays into love, would say that I wanted a man who already had kids. It always raised an eyebrow at dinner parties... "But why would you want to complicate it like that?" people would ask, "I mean, even if his kids are great, they'll always be The Ex Wife hanging around in the background... and you don't need that!" (Shudder)
But I had my reasons. I don't want any more children myself and had become convinced that however much a man protested his love for me; one day he'd look at me lovingly in bed one morning and say, "Come on, let's just have a baby." And what would I do then? Well, I would say no of course. And that most probably would be the end of that. No baby, no love.
And so when I met My Lovely Man and we had established pretty early on that neither of us wanted more children, it was a blessed relief... for both of us. I would love him and he would love me and we would parent our own children, each person getting up to deal with their own child in the night... it all sounded so marvellous. Now, however, I am facing the realities of being with a man who has a child... but it's not the child that's the problem... he's absolutely smashing...it's the other woman... and it's driving me mad.
You see, I'd never considered it from any point of view other than how it would suit me to not have to have any more kids: no man demanding rental space in my womb, no nappies to change, no 4 am feeds, no kicking him on the way out of the bed because he can sleep effortlessly through the baby's screams...
But worse than that, I think, is his EX...
She's so bloody difficult... and she never seems to go away. And much as I initially tried to maintain a graceful, opinion-free silence about her, it fast became impossible. She's always there, just out of sight, quietly fucking up evenings and weekends with her mad behaviour... I hardly have the words to describe how much she pisses me off...
I've never met this woman, but it's clear that someday I will have to. And what will I do? With all of the information I have about her, thinking of all of the spiteful phone calls and text messages that come at all hours, the terrible things she puts her children through, and with the sure knowledge that she is vile and volatile and clawing at the man I love. How will I shake her hand and tell her how lovely it is to meet her at last? It's gonna take some serious effort. Last week she called me a 'whore' and my children 'brats'... I laughed at the time. It was just a comically clichéd outburst from a very unhappy person... but we don’t deserve that. We are not those things.
MLM has met my ex, who has been equally as vile in the past... but the huge advantage is that he lives in another country and we get on quite well these days. I try not to mention him too much. But he is also there in the background. They both are... these exes. These people we used to love. But who we'd so much rather leave behind us and never speak to again, but whom, because of our children, we have to deal with every day... a constant reminder of the past, and of the mistakes we have made.
This is the price of love in a time of parenthood... there are four of us in our relationship somehow.