It’s not just the kids, either. My boyfriend has told his siblings about me, but I haven’t met anyone in his family and am not allowed to meet them. Aside from this issue, he makes me so unbelievably happy. I don’t want to lose what we have, but I also can’t be his dirty little secret. I’m so lost! — His Dirty Little Secret
You may be unbelievably happy with your boyfriend “aside from this issue,” but when the issue is feeling like “a dirty little secret,” you’re setting the bar pretty low for happiness. The truth is, your boyfriend is the secret. And he wants to keep it that way. He wants you to be separate from his real life so that you can function as an escape for him – from whatever it is he’s hiding you from. This isn’t what love looks like.
In a happy, functional relationship, your partner would want to share his life with you, not hide it from you, not hide you from it. Take a step back here and look through a wider lens. You can’t possibly be considering moving in with someone – marrying someone! – who doesn’t want to introduce you to his kids? How can you feel like you even know him when you don’t know him as a father to his kids? This isn’t what love looks like.
You deserve more than you’re getting from this relationship, and your boyfriend doesn’t even pretend that you’ll ever get anything more than this from him. I hope you will reconsider the future you’re dreaming of with this man, expand your idea of what happiness can look like, and then give yourself the gift of space to pursue it.
My question: Should my grandson have behaved in that manner? — Well-Intentioned Great-Grandma
No, your grandson should not have behaved in the manner that he did. He’s being a jerk to you. Things happen and sometimes people have to miss important occasions no matter how much they might like to be there. My own parents couldn’t attend my son’s bris twelve years ago not because they didn’t want to but because they were living in a different country and had scheduling conflicts. (They were able to meet their grandson a couple months later over the holidays.) My grandparents, whom I adored, weren’t able to make my wedding a couple years before that because it was a long distance from them and they were no longer able to travel. While I missed them, it didn’t even occur to me to be offended about these absences. We figured out different ways for them to be included in the happy occasions and all was fine.
These aren’t rare scenarios. Life gets in the way of even our best intentions, and sometimes we cannot be physically present for important events. When that happens, we hope that the people who love us will understand, extend compassion, and maybe even, if we’re lucky, reaffirm our connection through kind words or gestures. Physical presence is just one way to support someone. I’m sorry your grandson seems to be ignoring the other ways you’ve expressed your love and support. But I hope, if only for your own heart, you will cut him some slack this time and remember how exhausting parenting a newborn is and how jarring that overnight transition can be from expecting a baby to suddenly raising one.
Hopefully, in time, as sleep becomes less rare for your grandson, he will remember his manners and reach out to you with an apology or at least a phone call to say hello. In the meantime, Mazel Tov on your third great-grandchild, and best wishes for a peaceful Hanukkah.