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Parenting requires a lot of selflessness but also has many rewards.
If you can begin to really accept and ultimately embrace the reality that his kids come first without taking it personally, then you and Adam can sit down and figure out what can be done to improve the situation with their mother.
They may be “on” when they’re around you, the way kids tend to be around people they don’t know well, but if you knew them on a deeper level, you might see more of a range of their internal experience, which probably has its ups and downs.
Of course they’ll be different around their mom; naturally, they’ll find it easier to self-regulate in Adam’s calmer, more stable household. After two and a half years, you’d have seen some less-than-pleasant behavior if you were making a concerted effort to integrate them into your life.
But others will require you both to talk about your expectations in this relationship.
While you want to be with Adam, you must understand that the person you’re in love with is somebody who has a family.
Quite often she calls Adam hoping that he can “set them straight.” I’m certain that she’s the cause of all that chaos, because the kids never go out of control with Adam, and I’ve only seen them be pleasant.