Thomas Ravenel‘s girlfriend Ashley Jacobs may not have a good relationship with his ex Kathryn Dennis, but she’s still a part of their two kids’ lives.
In an exclusive interview, Jacobs, 33, tells PEOPLE that despite their very public feud on season 5 of Southern Charm — and Dennis’ request at Thursday’s reunion that Jacobs not spend time with daughter Kensie, 4, and son Saint, 2½ — she still spends time with them.
“It’s great,” Jacobs says. “I hear a lot of the rumors of I’m not allowed around the kids, and that’s not true. I am allowed around the kids, and I see them a lot. Thomas gets them 50/50, and before he had them more than that, so it’s inevitable. I’m going to be around them when I’m with him.”
“They’re sweet, sweet children,” she adds. “And very loving and happy.”
Jacobs and Dennis, 26, clashed throughout this season of Southern Charm, with Jacobs often criticizing Dennis’ parenting. Among her insults? Referring to Dennis as an “egg donor,” saying her kids “weren’t planned on,” insulting her parenting style, suggesting Dennis was on drugs, and claiming she sees Ravenel’s kids more than Dennis does — all words she said stood by, but somewhat apologized for, when asked about them at the reunion.
Nevertheless, Jacobs made it clear to PEOPLE she’s not trying to replace Dennis.
“Kathryn’s very protective of her children, and I’m not trying to fill any role other than being fun, loving, col, and silly,” Jacobs explains. “I’m like a babysitter. I walk in the house and they’re like, ‘Throw me on the bed, throw me on the couch, bring me around, let’s draw, let’s go on the swings, put on a movie’ — that’s my relationship.”
Whatever anger she has towards Dennis doesn’t carry over when she’s around the children, either. “I’m not harmful, I don’t speak badly, I don’t do anything that you see on TV that would make you think that I would be that way to these children,” Jacobs says. “They are innocent in all of this.”
It should come as no surprise that Jacobs and Dennis haven’t repaired their relationship.
“I actually asked her if she would ever want to get together and talk — coffee, lunch, my treat,” Jacobs recalls, explaining she ran into Dennis at a restaurant. “Kathryn said no.”
Ideally, Jacobs says she wants to be in a position with Dennis where the two are cordial, focused on forgiveness and moving forward.
“I mean I said things to her that obviously she’s very hurt by, understandably, right. So I don’t think I’m her favorite person,” Jacobs admits. “I have to try to put herself in my position. If she was doing that to me, if it were reverse, would I want to sit down with her? Would I want to make time for her? Is it to soon?”
“Personally, I don’t like to have enemies. I need closure. I want things to be on good terms. Even if we are not best friends, I want there to be an opening for something,” Jacobs continues. “”It would make life easier, not to be full of anger and hate and frustration. It’s uncomfortable for me, it’s uncomfortable for her, it’s uncomfortable for Thomas, and it’s uncomfortable for the children, and that’s the priority. I want to get on that path — to be cordial, to see her out and be able to say hi and have a friendly conversation.”
Does that mean Jacobs would apologize for what she said?
“Yes, I’d like that opportunity to apologize, but I don’t think she’d ever probably take me that seriously” she says. “I forgive very easily, but I have to understand that we’re different people. Just because I’m able to do that, doesn’t mean she can or she wants to. And i’s been hard for me to apologize because I don’t think she really cares. And even if I do apologize and do try to make friends, I don’t really trust that [it will stick].”
“She just doesn’t think I’m going to be here much longer,” Jacobs admits “That makes sense. Why invest in something? She keeps saying, ‘You’re not going to be here that long anyway.’ If there was an engagement, if there was marriage, if there was a baby — not that Thomas and I are at that stage yet — but I think Kathryn would treat me differently. Like, ‘She is here to stay, let’s try to mend this.’ “
Is Ravenel, 55, helping them negotiate peace in the mean time?
“Thomas still talks to her, occasionally, and I think here and there, they might bring me up briefly,” says Jacobs. “He has tried. He has tried. I want to hug it out, but he says she’s not there. He says she thinks it’s like funny, or blows it off, or rolls her eyes when he brings it up. He goes, ‘She’s not forgiving. She’s not going to forgive you.’ ”
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Meanwhile, Dennis has found a way to put her anger towards Ravenel aside. (They dated on and off for a few years before ending their relationship in 2016.)
Although their early relationship was marked by explosive outbursts, unexpected reconciliations, a contentious custody battle and accusations running the gamut from cheating to drug abuse, the two have made peace to put their children first.
They put on a united front at Saint’s second birthday party and celebrated Kensie’s dance recital together in June.
They’ve also been sharing photos and videos with their kids together this summer, at beach gatherings and at-home dance parties.
Ravenel was not at the Southern Charm reunion. The network is still investigating the situation after he was accused of sexually assaulting two women, including his children’s former nanny (Ravenel has denied all allegations).
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