Thanks so much to all who might read and comment on this. I really don't know anyone else in this position and am just looking for advice but also to know that other people have gone through this- and arrived on the other side!
I just wrote a very long explanation of all the ins and outs of our history. And while that was probably therapeutic, lol, it's probably not necessary! The short story is this:
My partner and I (we are recently engaged and together about 2 years), had decided to move in together last spring after maintaining a long distance relationship for the entirety of our relationship (this was HUGE for me- I have never lived with any partner). We planned the move for November 1st as we wanted to make sure that we gave the kids enough time to adjust to him leaving their town and being a couple hours away. His ex and children (6 & 8) have been aware of the move since late last spring (we worked with a therapist to help the children to understand that he would still -of course!- be a very active and involved dad and that we would be so excited to have them every other weekend, holidays and vacations just as it's always been). When he let his ex know (September) that we were planning for the move to happen November 1st, she told him he would need to bring them as she felt unable to care for them anymore. So tough on the kids. And tough on me. And our relationship. And though he is thrilled to have custody, also tough to have it come out sf nowhere. My head was spinning for weeks.
Woah. I am 36. Never lived with a partner. Never lived with or had children in my home. And he has a lab. I have a rather small apartment that will soon be home to 3 additional human beings and a large dog. We went through many long talks about whether this was something we both wanted to do/should do with such a change to circumstances. We have agreed (most moments of most days) that we deeply love each other and want a life together. That life now includes full-time parenting. I work very hard to not be resentful of their mother who pays little to no child support (we are working on that through the courts now), is entertaining the idea of heading back to school for a professional change, partying all nights of the week, and has extra income to take the kids on elaborate, out of state vacations multiple times a year. I earn more money than my partner and though we had initially decided on a 50/50 financial split (before the kids were with us full time), I am now reassessing that initial agreement as I think that their mom should be responsible - at least in part- for their care. I would like to have a child (or children) in the future but I worry that financially, since we will already have two children, that is going to be tough. I understand that this is my choice but I feel very guiltily selfish for some of my feelings of loss that are happening right now. I honestly think the reality of what I'm about to take on is still setting in.
I really would appreciate any advice people have to give on this- and almost more than that I'd love to hear from people who have gone through this process from singlehood to live-in partnership and motherhood all at once. I have tried to be proactive with my partner and discussed what life might look like- but there is so much to talk through!!! So much pressure to get it right now that the kids will be moved from their home town to a new school. I'm a reader so books hints will be helpful too! Basically, anything to help me feel a little less alone would be awesome. Oh, and I should say, my partner is super-supportive! But, it's tough at times to deal not only with the logistics of what needs to happen, but also all this emotion! He really is awesome- but his experience, though challenging in it's own right, is different from my own. And one more thing, the kids are really great kids- and we get along very well so far! So that's something, right?? But to be blunt, I'm an introvert living with a chronic illness that is exasperated by stress, he and the kids are loud and full of energy, and at times, it's just plain exhausting!
Thanks so much for reading and I thank all the bloggers before- it's been so helpful to read others stories!