Wednesday, 25 July 2007

In need of support.

The sky is a pale shade of blue today. Not a cloud in sight. It makes a change from the grey skies and persistent rain we have suffered for most part of July. It almost feels like an October morning with heavy dew trading places with early Autumns frost covering the grass. The sun is low in the sky but I can already feel its warmth through the window. It's going to be a beautiful day., I just hope it will last. The branches of my cherry tree sway rhythmically, ruffled by the gentle breeze but I think it is warm enough to go without a jacket. Perhaps I am in need of a walk to clear some cobwebs. I'm sure my two year old will enjoy the trip out. Yesterday we were stuck in the house all day due to the weather. Perhaps a walk along the canal is just what I need.
I have become more involved once again with the on-line step family forums. Even though my step daughter wants no involvement with me, I still feel this should be resolved. I cannot do it alone. Perhaps I need the reassurance I am right, I have done everything possible to resolve the situation and there is nothing more that can be done.

Looking at Divorce Poison, I personally cannot see there is any way the damaged relationship between my step daughter and I can be repaired. If it can, it is going to be a long process with much work and I feel I have little strength to pour into the challenge. I am already consumed with the whole situation and it is an emotion that is wasted. My energy should be directed towards my own children and my husband, but they have constantly taken a back seat. They don't seem to be high on my list of priorities when in actual fact, they should be way on top!
Firstly, we cannot even be sure my husbands ex wife is behind my step daughters behaviour at all. Divorce Poison shows how I can counteract the behaviour of my husbands ex wife and her comments about me by not allowing her negative thoughts to penetrate and remain inside my step daughter allowing them to fester or become believable lies. I read this snippet from Divorce Poison. It makes perfect sense.

We all hate mud slinging in political campaigns, but it always seems to happen. Each candidate is attempting to convince the voters that they are the best person for the job. They usually start out just talking about why they are a good candidate, but before long they give into the temptation to start talking about why they think the other candidate is not good for the job. They work to convince the voters that there is nothing good about their opponent. Even if the opponent has done something good, or has a good idea, they will attempt to discredit or find fault with the other's ideas and actions. They don't even have to tell lies. All they have to do is exaggerate negative points while minimizing positive points.
Regardless of the election's outcome, we are all relieved that the smear campaigns are finally over. Unfortunately there will occasionally be a looser who can't accept his loss, and will continue the mudslinging long after the election is over.

Ideally, when one candidate begins mudslinging, the other candidate should be "the better man", and not let his campaign sink to that level. Unfortunately, not fighting back or responding to the other candidate's attempts to ruin his reputation can backfire. Not responding to an accusation actually gives credit to it. Without any information to counter the false or misleading information given to them, the voters and general public begin to believe the bad remarks. If the smear campaigning goes on long enough, the negative images of the candidate can crowd out any positive images in the voters' minds. The voters will begin to have negative feelings about the candidate.

The problem I have is that my stepdaughter has never actually said, "my mum said this." The only three points I can actually say have happened are the incident where my stepdaughter said "mummy says I don't have to talk to you," the head lice incident, "you don't know what you are talking about," or the birthday party in which my stepdaughter told us "mummy doesn't want my friends to come to your house." My stepdaughters mother appears to have been very clever in her "mud slinging campaign." So how can I counteract this? How can I or my husband plant positive thoughts in my stepdaughters head when I have no idea what is being said to her?
When my husband spends time with his child, he doesn't talk about me or the children. He says there is no point. He doesn't want to rake up the last 4 years, he just wants to talk to her about trivial things like school. So I am at a loss. If I cannot counter attack the mud slinging, and my husband does not either, whatever is inside of my stepdaughter's head regarding her feelings for me, remain there.

I suggested she came to the ball pit with us last Saturday afternoon to which she replied, without any prompting from her mother, "Can we leave Leigh at home?" Oh yes she wanted the fun, but I was not allowed to be part of it. My husbands reply? "That isn't very nice is it?" I think he is finally accepting that everything that comes out of his daughter's mouth regarding his wife, is not always instigated by her mother.

My defences are up concerning my own daughter. My husbands ex had suggested her daughter felt bullied by my own child. The little discussions my husband has while he visits his daughter about myself or my eldest daughter are annoying. My husband hasn't been specific with his information and it infuriates me. Once again I cannot defend myself or my daughter. I wonder if my husband does on our behalf, I doubt it. My daughter does not deserve the comments made by my stepdaughter, and this results in her wanting to spend time with her own father. This creates the feeling that my stepdaughter has caused my child to want to spend time away from us. Some relief from our now dysfunctional family. I really do despise my step daughter, and I don't like that quality in myself.

Perhaps it is time for me to let go but I feel the moment I stop caring about the situation, the moment I can wake up on a morning and not care about how this is affecting our lives, the moment I can stop caring how my step daughter will turn out, or she doesn't want to see me. So the moment I stop caring would make me feel I've given up. Given up on my husband and I love him too much to do that. Once again I feel completely torn. If I give up caring, not showing an interest, watch my husband leave to visit his daughter and not care, I will be accused of not supporting my him. But the truth is I don't care about my step daughter. I care about my husband and the affect the situation is having on my own children. My 11 year old is "used to hearing her mum and step dad's heated discussions about why their life has not turned out how it should have," and a 2 year old who will ask me, "are you ok mummy?" This is why I am so annoyed with my stepdaughter and her mother. The effect they are continually having on my and my children's lives and the fact they are probably oblivious to it!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

All alone am I

It is hard watching my husband leave once a fortnight to visit his daughter, I cannot deny that. After his first meeting with her he told me all she could talk about was me. I find this hard to believe as she doesn't want to see me. Perhaps she is paying lip service to her father, I'll talk about her, so daddy won't dislike me or see me as bad for not wanting to see his wife. I don't know what goes through her mind. It could even be, the truth is, she does dislike me, it isn't anything to do with her mother at all, but had her mother not told me to my face I was nothing to do with her daughter, I feel this is more the reason.

So I watch my husband get ready for another visit. I sit at home and wait for his return, with the aroma of his Armani aftershave still lingering beneath my nose. I wait while he treats his daughter to Pizza Hut, or walks in the park. At this time I cannot bury my feelings that once again she has triumphed in dividing my family. She now has what she wants, daddy to herself and she is rewarded for her behaviour. It is raining today so what will my husband find to do with his daughter? I have suggested wellies and a raincoat. Perhaps it is time to get tough and talk to her about joining our family again.

It has been suggested I read Divorce Poison - Richard Warshak. I will borrow this
from the library.

For goodness sake, it's 2 hours a fortnight and I have him 24/7, but it is the family divide I despair with. My children have never tried to separate me from my husband. I wouldn't allow it. We come as a package. They know my husband is important to me, but they are reassured they are important to me too and the bottom line is they get on well with their step father. They understand the situation and why we are here. They are constantly supported by my husband and myself and when my daughter visits her father, the visits are again supported. I don’t speak badly of her dad or his girlfriend so there is no need for my children to feel guilty about getting along with her, I actually encourage it.

I have made a chocolate cake for my daughter. She left Primary school yesterday to move onto to secondary school. I have written 'Well done end of year 6' on the top.
I have cut a small piece and wrapped it up for my husband to give his daughter. We have had a minor discussion this morning about the situation. He feels guilty for leaving us but feels, his ex wife behaving the way she has, he just wants to keep the conflict away from the house. Any more and we feel our marriage will be over. We have questioned, sought help, argued for too long. He believes, while his ex wife remains in his daughters life, there will never be a resolution and he is tired of trying. It's not because he doesn't love his child, that has never been the issue, but 4 years of conflict? How many more? When can we begin to be husband and wife? When can we begin to be happy parents to our own children? When will the tug of war and heartache stop?

I have tried to be a friend to my step daughter, I have sent her home with positive thoughts, never slandered her mother in her company, always tried to be positive, but to no avail. For her last birthday I sent a card and bought a silver chain with a little ballerina on it just from me. I'm not evil or nasty but I confuse myself. One minute feeling nothing but contempt, the next, feelings of pity and yearnings for my step daughter to be included once again. I honestly do not want my stepdaughter, this young child of 7, to grow up confused or bitter. It's no wonder I confuse my husband too!

Friday, 20 July 2007


After discovering the ex wife's intention of moving with no obvious plan to inform my husband, I called him at work to notify him of my revelation.
He was, quite obviously, annoyed, upset, I'm not really sure. A mixture of feelings I suppose. She was intending to move, and not tell him, so the next time he wrote to his daughter, the letter would never be delivered.

According to the Estate agent, the house was under offer with the proposed completion of sale, happening within a matter of weeks. My husband decided to call his ex wife.
She was clever as always, asking if he had spoken to the school. He asked if she ever intended informing him of her plans or was she simply going to disappear and take his daughter with him? She fobbed him off telling him nothing was final and she would ask their daughter if she wanted daddy to continue writing. My husband's response? I would have hoped as a decent human being you would automatically let me know.
But of course, his daughter was over him wasn't she? And his ex wife has never shown an indication of decency.

This was serious. I encouraged my husband to call the school and ask to see his daughter in person. He needed to hear it from her if he was never to see his child again. The head mistress behaved in a very noble manner when his ex had notified her of the move. She told his ex that as a representative of the school, she was duty bound to inform the father, my husband, of the potential school move of his daughter. His ex wife wasn't too happy about this, but she wouldn't be would she? She thought she could paint my husband out to be a terrible father, but once my husband had contact with the school, and they could see for themselves what a nice guy he is, they came to their own conclusions. His ex wife was/is a clever woman who puts words into her daughter's mouth. Duly pointed out by the headmistress!

This may seem harsh for me to say such things, but even after the way I have been treated I do not want my husband to remain sad without his child. If I didn't care about his feelings, I wouldn't have told my husband of my discovery, I could have withheld the information and never spoke of it, but I'm not like that. My husband is too important to me. I encourage him to speak to his daughters teacher this morning.

My husband was nervous but made the call to be told yes his daughter wanted to see him even though she did have to think about it for a few moments.
I watched him in the shower as he prepared himself for his reconcilliation. He was shaking, nervous to see his own child. I was anxious myself but encouraged him and things would be fine. He was worried about what they would talk about even though they only had 10 minutes or so during her lunch hour.

I told him she would probably whisk him around her classroom excited to show him all her work. I suggested he ask her teacher to stay in the classroom with them, to be on the safe side. He felt ashamed and doubted his parenting skills. He seemed to shower for ages and I wondered if he would end up looking like a prune but understood the water seemed to calm him.

As he left I hugged him but he was still shaking. I could not go with him to support him, he had to do this alone, it was between father and daughter. So once again I feel slightly excluded as I am unable to support the man I love.
He hadn’t told his ex wife of his intentions, he knew what would happen and I waited in anticipation for him to return home.

Hearing his key in the door I waited for him to find me in the kitchen. As I looked at him there was something different. He walked taller as if he were walking on air and the grin was so big it distorted his face. He gabbled and I had trouble catching what he was saying.
‘It was wonderful,’ he exclaimed. ‘Like we’ve never been apart. You were right but I knew all along things would be fine, she’s my daughter and I’m her daddy. Hannah showed me all the things she has been doing at school and I could see it in her face she was pleased to see me too. I knew my bitch of an ex wife was lying when she said Hannah didn’t want to see me again, she was over me; she looked pretty over me today. Look at this photo I have taken. She held on to me the entire time I was with her, she didn’t want me to go when it was time’

He was completely euphoric and I instantly noticed a change in my husband. The man I had fallen in love with five years ago was standing before me. I hadn’t noticed the mental torture that had weighted him down over the last year and he appeared to be standing taller too like a weight had been lifted. But in the same instant, the weight seemed to place itself back on to my own shoulders. I had been blind. Even though I had been aware of his sadness and despair I had overlooked something else. Along with the loss of his daughter something inside of him had died but as I looked at him now I immediately saw an instant re-birth.

He asked his daughter if she would like to come visit us again and she said she would love to show us the Brownie badges she had earned. I felt uneasy and cautious yet positive things would be different. We decided we would not let things affect us. We knew what the problem was and we could deal with it now. His ex wife could not stop him from seeing his daughter. Her insistence that his daughter didn’t want to see him was an obvious lie, her actions proved that so the only card she could play was to say his daughter didn’t want to see me. We were prepared.

My husband called his ex and told her he had been to see his daughter. She was not happy but had to accept father and child wanted to see each other again. The planning began.
Within an hour my husband received a call from his daughter. She was faltering, embarrassed on the telephone. ‘Sorry daddy, I want to see you but not her. I don’t want to see her.’
So there it was, her mother was working her from the back and his daughter was pressured into saying an awful thing. How can someone do that to a child? Once again his ex wife wins!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Divine intervention?

I don’t know what compelled me to check the electoral register a few months ago. A hunch? A feeling? Divine intervention? Yes you can now consider me a total fruitcake but I believe in life after death, Karma, whatever you wish to call it.
But it was there I discovered my husbands ex wife had sold her house and intended moving without notifying my husband at all.
Suddenly everything fell into place. Having to drop Christmas presents and Easter gifts for his daughter in the car park of a local pub was not, as his ex wife suggested, to save his daughter more upset. It was to stop him going to her home and seeing the ‘For sale’ sign erected in her front garden.

I have my experiences, things that cannot be explained. Seeing ‘things’ that I know are not there. For example. I lost my dog. I don’t mean I couldn’t find her she died. I was devastated; she was my one true friend. At the same time I had a cat, a black and white moggy called Chester. He hated my dog and would corner her, back arched, fur fluffed out, hissing at a pathetic cowering dog twice his size. She was a total wimp but I loved her. Several months after my loss, I thought I was getting over her. While talking on the telephone one afternoon, Chester was going absolutely berserk in the kitchen. He was hissing, fur fluffed up, back arched. And then I saw it, a mid sized black dog standing inside looking out through my patio doors. Of course I questioned how a dog had managed to get into my home. The doors were shut; there was no way it could have come in. So I finished my conversation and as I turned to replace the receiver and head to the door, the dog had vanished. I searched the whole house for the dog but nothing. Had Chester not acted in the strange way, I really thought I had imagined it. I know I didn’t.

I remember the meeting with Maureen like it happened yesterday just before my first marriage ended. On driving to her home images of Romany women with rugged hands laden with gold rings and bangles distracted my concentration. I was surprised to encounter a modest semi-detached house with heavy lace curtains at the windows. Even more of a surprise was to be greeted by the woman herself. The smartly dressed middle-aged woman greeted me with a wide smile. She had a round, friendly face and even friendlier eyes, quite a normal looking woman with a tangled mop of brown hair. I suppose I expected her to have a scarf tied around her head gazing into a crystal ball or something; typical image of a clairvoyant. She offered a cup of tea and a biscuit but I declined. The aroma of orange and lavender filled the room and a small water fountain bubbling on the table, seemed odd but added a tranquil mood to the room. Evidently water is a good spiritual conductor, so if you need to have a good natter with the dearly departed, have a soak in the bath.

I remember the conversation well as I sat to the side of her in her back room.
‘Okay, let’s see what we’ve got shall us?’ she said.
I remember watching Maureen curiously as she placed some bright coloured cards randomly in front of her on the table.
‘There’s been a death dear, not a physical one, an emotional one. Are you divorced?’ I was startled by the question and immediately felt for the gold band still firmly on my left hand.
‘Ah, but the marriage is over yes? It’s dead.’

‘Yes I suppose you could say that.’ I replied.
‘ Well you have a decision to make m’dear,’ continued Maureen, ‘Leave him and be free, or remain caged for the rest of your life.’
I remember feeling an immense sadness and must have looked sad to Maureen as she suddenly grabbed my hand.

‘ This card here,’ and she tapped it lightly with her finger. ‘You see the sword? When this card appears it represents not just physical strength but the ability to cope and win through in the end. The Strength card signifies triumph over most things; challenges you may face, even defending yourself against jealousy, ignorance and domination. It warns of missed opportunities and not to give up. You have the strength, you must use it.’

She told me of a special little girl who I assumed would be my stepdaughter but she told me it was my own child. At that time there was no way I was having any more children but as it is now, I have my young daughter who was 2 in March. She mentioned a church but not a wedding, and the name Mary. I happen to live opposite a church quite bizarrely called St Mary’s.

There were many things she told me the weirdest was she saw something published. Perhaps it is this Blog and my need to share it with everyone.
One last thing, she asked me who Richard was. At the time I could not think, but one day it came to me. I used to call my husband my Richard Gere. Not that he looks anything like him but they share the same grey hair and distinguishing qualities Gere depicted in Pretty Woman. Not the corporate raider but the romantic character that hung out of a sunroof brandishing his umbrella like a sword shouting ‘Princess Vivienne.’ Like Richard Gere rescued Julia Roberts, my husband rescued me too, except my white limousine, was a long based transit van!

Home Sweet Home.

The view of the Dales has always captivated me. I love Yorkshire; it has become home and is a long, long way away from Bristol, the place I grew up, a place that held countless, unpleasant memories for me.
Yorkshire's gentle sloping hills give way to feelings of serenity for me. I love those undulating hills; the tiny stone back-to-back cottages with black slate roofs that nestle among tall oak trees, barely visible, now June is here. The Wild Cherry trees shed their blossom like wedding confetti thrown in celebration caused by each gentle gust of the warm breeze. The tips of the Silver Birch sway rhythmically, their slender branches reach out to finger the airs tender surge.

I often loose myself in the view. The hills, trees and stone cottages being a stark but welcome contrast to the industrial buildings so commonly depicted in Lowry’s finest art work. Keighley, my local Town, disperses itself at the foot of the valley.

The home I share with my husband and family sits comfortably on the opposite side of the dale in a peaceful, sleepy village among a mixture of old and new built dwellings. Cottages without garages cause the local inhabitants to park their vehicles along the winding country roads that lazily follow the contours of the hills. Impatient drivers honk their horns at slow moving tractors laden with hay that move their load from one field to the other.

I love the Yorkshire people, not the image I once conjured of men in string vests wearing knotted hankies or flat capped individuals brandishing giant black puddings shouting, ‘eh by gum.' They are a gentle, straight-talking breed with a lazy endearing dialect; pure folk with 'nout taken out. When I collect my eldest daughter from school, I observe the Yorkshire mothers who collect their own offspring. Women of all shapes and sizes, some large who bellow like market traders on Grimsby dock, some small who refrain from drawing attention to themselves whilst trying to retain some decorum grappling with their spawn by the scruff of their necks.
Both types of women preserve deep family values, making sure a plate is empty before moving on to pudding and if they are still hungry, fill up on bread!

Honesty, integrity and understanding the value of money, a lesson I too have learned. Southerners like myself, tend to be a little more reserved less welcoming and a little suspicious of strangers. They prefer to stand back and observe often-giving rise to the feeling of scrutiny to a newcomer. They tend to judge their book by its cover rather than taking their time and gently warming to its pages and reading a while. Me? I am an immigrant, a southern lass having now acquired a little Yorksher grit, or in English terms, a no-nonsense and never say die spirit whether in business, sport or facing a crisis!
Unlike my love for Yorkshire, my body has grown to dislike it and having no self-control has decided to head south. Yes the once slender size ten has given way to a voluptuous squeeze-in-my-jeans size twelve with post childbirth humps and bumps popping out exactly where I don't want them too. My husband loves my curves and so does my daughter.
‘I love you mummy, you’re not fat you’re beautiful.’
I wish I could share my daughter’s biased opinion.

Monday, 9 July 2007

The Aftermath.

I woke this morning agitated and a little out of sorts. My husband had cocooned himself amongst the duvet, a position he often takes at some point during the night because he hates being cold, so I gave him a prod and the covers another yank. ‘Selfish sod.’ Annoyed I rolled over and touched my lower back wincing from the immediate pain. My bed feels uncomfortable now, much like my marriage; at one time it felt safe but not anymore. Now it feels strange and awkward. Don't get me wrong I love my husband I completely adore the man and I am very happily married. He is the most attentive, devoted human being I could wish to be with, an impatient so and so all the same like many of the male species, but the present situation has caused a shift of emotions that once again, remain unfamiliar. So unable to get comfortable I decide to get up.

It was a dream that woke me, normally my 2 year old beats the birds dawn chorus, but not this morning.The image was so clear it seems it happened only yesterday. I am driving in my car towards the home of my husband’s ex wife. It is a beautiful summer afternoon and the sun has been hot for days. Folk don their sunglasses and lower shades in their cars; bare-armed overweight women fan themselves with newspapers or magazines, irritable with the heat. Children holding the ice creams they eagerly lick, drop most of it onto their newly washed t-shirts, they gaze up at their mothers and their mothers glare back at them disapprovingly.

My palms are sweaty as I grip the steering wheel, my young daughter gurgles happily fastened into her seat behind me. I am fizzing with excitement yet apprehensive with nerves, excited hoping I may bring about a change concerning my husband not seeing his child, nervous because I will stand face to face with his ex wife and try to have a calm and civil conversation regarding her daughter and I just don’t do confrontation. I perform the scenario over and over. Was there anything that could be salvaged from the situation; was there anything I could have done differently? The same answer repeats itself once again, no; there was nothing I could have done to change what has happened.

My husband never stood a chance as once his ex wife decided she wanted him out of their daughter's life there was absolutely nothing he could have done to change her mind.
My get up and go got up and went and I simply do not have the strength to chase headlong after it. If my mind isn’t racing with one thing it’s thinking about something else.

Coming back to my senses my feet feel for the soft rug that is lying on the floor, so stretching the pain away from my aching back I venture downstairs leaving my husband to sleep. On entering the kitchen, the tiles are cold under my feet so I dance, hopping from one foot to the other while trying to pour myself a cup of coffee, then with cup in hand I walk to the window to see what the day's weather is going to offer. It is a beautiful warm morning, unusual for this time of year so opening the tall patio doors I invite a light waft of air into the room, seat myself at the dining room table and gently cradle my now cooling cup of coffee.

I can hear the birds singing their early morning chorus; the bells of the local church ring out inviting its congregation to share their celebration of life. Closing my eyes for a moment I take in a deep breath, the morning air brings the pungent scent of early flowering stocks and it prickles my nostrils. The gentle but cool breeze brushes my cheeks and embraces my shoulders so I pull the collar of my dressing gown tight around my neck.

I reflect over the past few years of anguish and despair and the last twenty-four months of alienation from my stepdaughter that has eventually led to her ceased visitation. I cannot rid my mind of the meeting with my husband’s ex wife; it haunts my waking moments and disturbs my sleep but those feelings are slowly but surely beginning to diminish, gradually finding their way into my heart is acceptance and in some peculiar sort of way forgiveness.

Unfortunately embroiled in these mixed emotions lays a deeper sadness that bites to the bone, an emotion that will certainly never go away and a tear finds its way onto my cheek. It descends over the contours of my face where it reaches my lips and when biting my lower lip I can taste its saltiness, so drawing a deep breath I lick it away. I have cried far too much, it is time for a new start; time to salvage something from my shattered dreams, my fairytale and the happy ending that should have been inevitable.

Lifting the cup, the brim finds my lips and I take a sip. The tepid, slightly bitter tasting coffee makes me scowl so I place it back onto the table heaving a sigh. Yes I am happy here there is no doubt about that, but it is taking a long time to accept what has happened and how desperately unhappy I have been. My stepdaughter’s ability to alienate me from my family has caused tiresome conflict with my husband and although I no longer have to endure her behaviour, it has left its mark on my husband. He misses her desperately, so much so it’s as if his spark has been extinguished and his inner soul has been snuffed out.

Admiring the comfortable surroundings of my home I catch sight of a photograph hanging on the wall among the other current family snapshots. It is a recent picture of my stepdaughter and immediately guilty feelings of rejection and resentment began to take hold. Sadly she has somehow lost the sparkle in her eyes and her skin is more of a paler, pasty complexion than it’s once radiant pink. Her long, mousy-brown hair framing her delicate features hangs limp and lifeless causing the delicate wispy curls to straighten with the weight. Her confident grin is now replaced with a strained half- hearted smile, it is a completely different image to the child I once knew.

But it is a lot less painful to look at her picture now as not so long ago, one particular portrait at the top of the stairs had to be re-positioned. It was the first picture I caught sight of when descending the stairs after putting my youngest daughter to bed. I just could not look at it without feeling bitterness and dejection, but I knew it had nothing to do with my stepdaughter as an individual; the antipathy was everything she represented. It makes me ashamed for feeling this way but as I see it, all the emotional crap my husbands ex wife has shovelled in our direction via her child has left such a void, the bond I had forged with her daughter that has now been brought down, has left our relationship irretrievably reversible.

It’s funny, in the beginning my stepdaughter could have been visiting her daddy alongside a woman who hated everything she represented. Instead she came into a home where she was loved by her daddy and adored by a woman who cared very deeply for her. It’s funny how a change in circumstances can alter ones perception.

I rise from the table and head upstairs to dress. My husband is still cocooned by the duvet but his snoring has now turned to heavy breathing with more of an odd jaw chomping sound. In the dimness of the bedroom I catch sight of my full-length reflection in the mirror. I think I’m doing ok for my forty-two years of age, the slivers of grey that dominate my once brown hair are a bit of a give away though. Mental note, must buy a hair dye. My eyes are looking a little tired and as for my mental state, well, I don't recall where I left my humour head, I think I misplaced that a few years ago.

Certainly seems a while since I threw my head back and guffawed with laughter, too many tears, disputes, arguments and disagreements concerning my stepdaughter or her mother. All said and done I feel I am actually beginning to re kindle the rapport I once had with my sense of humour and laugh again. Looking in the mirror I squeeze the left over skin at my middriff that doesn’t appear to actually belong to any particular part of my body, I am able to laugh at myself, a good place to start, especially when I pore despondently over my reflection. If I refrain from falling about in hysterics I question myself, 'why am I still here?'

The initial happiness I had shared with my husband has been short lived. In the beginning we were madly in love, we still are, but we both have become preoccupied with our own grief and hopelessness, finding it impossible to put our own needs and anxieties to one side and assist each other in repairing our fragile relationship.

Returning downstairs I rinse the leftover crockery from last night’s meal along with my cup under the tap. 'I love you ya know.' I hear the tender voice of my husband. He is standing behind me and places his hands caressingly around my waist giving me a gentle squeeze. Without turning to face him I smile, 'I know,' I reply, but his sincere words just don't seem to matter at that moment in time. He pats me affectionately on my bottom and totters out into the garden. We seem to have lost our way as husband and wife and disconnected from each other, well maybe I have from him a little. The resentment and regret that has consumed each of us for so long has resulted in the inability to understand, provide sympathy or support to each other but most of all love. It has left no room to plan our future, a future that seemed so bright and a future that should have included my stepdaughter.

Turning away from the sink I saunter to the open doors and study him in his dressing gown. He is tending the blossoms of the small lilac tree and suddenly becomes aware of my gaze and chuckles, ‘takes me back years these do. When I was a lad my mum had one of these in her garden. I used to hide beneath the bushes and poke the passers by with a little stick. Laugh my head off cos they didn’t know where it had come from.’
He cups the blossom affectionately, his cheerful mood changing to despondency as he remembers the true but more powerful significance of the tree, the birth of his beloved daughter.

I think about a friend who has a new love interest in her life.
'He has two wonderful girls aged eight and six, they really are sweethearts.' She eagerly told me.
'Yes, they would be wouldn't they?’ I reply.
'His ex wife is a bit of a pain though, I made a surprise visit to his work and she was sitting on his desk, cross legged wearing stockings and a short skirt. They were laughing together but I can handle that, she doesn’t pose any threat to me.'
I want to be excited for her really I do, but those hidden signals foretell an agenda that cause my scepticism and concern for her. A woman who has not accepted her ex husband has moved on with his life, a woman who doesn’t want him for herself but doesn’t want anyone else to have him either.

It may have been a perfectly innocent visit, but with my past history, it leaves me extremely cautious and suspicious. Never take too lightly a woman who is not completely over her ex husband or hasn’t accepted the dissolution of her marriage. She has a bargaining tool she will use to her advantage, and that tool is her child. This was my mistake; underestimating a woman who should have been of no consequence to me whatsoever apart from sharing a daughter with the man I had fallen head over heels in love with.

She had her own agenda and that was to bring down a relationship, whether it was between my husband and I, my husband and his daughter or her daughter and myself. I will never know whom she targeted as her intended victim, but there were without doubt casualties. The elected victim was my husband but drawn into the crossfire was his own daughter. It was their relationship that was so tragically brought down, consequently my husband lost his child but more importantly his daughter lost her daddy.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Cinderella Syndrome.

I now question if I have become the evil stepmother the myth perceives? I suspect the attitude of my husband's ex wife's is yes, I most certainly have. On reflection of my experiences, I wonder if I have in fact, over compensated in my role and in an effort to gain acceptance from my stepdaughter, the actual achievement was aggravating her mother.

Did I try too hard to be the perfect stepmother in the beginning and did I have over ambitious expectations? I realise what I should have done is to have not become obsessed with how her mother was affecting our lives, but at that time, was far to involved emotionally so it would have been impossible to have detached from the situation. When you are able to observe from a distance, you can interpret and perceive it with an entirely different perspective.
One thing I can be entirely sure of is I have never tried or intended to replace my stepdaughters mother as I am fulfilled with my own mothering duties, but if I am honest, I did want to be better than she is and that was unfair. I know this happened because I needed my stepdaughter to like me and it was important for the success of my family unit. Perhaps subconsciously, it became a competition between us and unknowingly, we were drawn into a game that perhaps began with the ex wife's need to control our weekends, and my absolute non tolerance of it because I expected this blended family to work normally.

I suspect I appeared as a puppeteer for my husband and the influence I was having where decision making and arrangements were concerned, but his ex wife forgot, this was no longer an arrangement between she and her ex husband, suddenly he has a new family that needs to be considered too. It was her choice not to consider us. What she needed to remember is, it was her that caused her family to split not me, but it is me and my family who have suffered. I filled her role as her ex husbands new wife and now understand that it is not necessarily me as a person who she has targeted, but anyone my husband chose to be with. The relationship with my stepdaughter has been devised on a loss of her family and I am here because my stepdaughters life dramatically changed.

Being part of a stepfamily needs an understanding so in order to make the family work, there needs to be communication from everyone involved. This becomes increasingly difficult to navigate especially when one member seems to be constantly working against the other. Should being a great stepparent, allow a stepchild's mother to constantly be in control? Does being a great stepmother require you to become a conformist in order to make the stepfamily unit work, to have absolutely no input in your new family but instead happily succumb to the demands of a stepchild's mother? Why, when taking this role should we instantly but silently labelled as wicked, even before a relationship with our stepchildren has been created?

The whole time my stepdaughter spent her weekend with us, it was never brought to our attention by her mother that there was a major problem concerning my stepdaughter's attitude towards me apart from the visible evidence in her behaviour while at our home.

Both myself and my husband live with the torment each day of living without our respective children. But because it was us alone who made those choices, does this mean we are not allowed to suffer, be sad, and grieve the loss of our children?
If I am totally honest I do feel ashamed that I didn't do more, but what more could I have done? My stepdaughter and I had a great relationship at first and although I cannot prove anything, her mother's actions caused our relationship breakdown.

My stepdaughter quite rightly is loyal to her mum, and I wouldn't expect any different, but she was never encouraged to have a relationship with me, something I have done with my own children. My husbands ex wife told me to my face that I would never have anything to do with her child. How can that not happen when I am married to her dad? The school nurses has told me that there is nothing we can do until she deals with what ever issues she carries. I believe that even though she had an affair and my husband took her back 3 times, she just wasn't ready for him to move on. She wasn't sure if being apart from him was what she really wanted then when I came on the scene, decision taken away from her.

I don't blame her for that my husband is a fantastic husband and an equally fantastic dad. I am a lucky lady.
My problem is that when I started posting and asking for help, I couldn't act on the advise that was being given to me. What I was hoping for was for someone to say " what a horrid child, yes what you are doing is right." But responses were from people who weren't "living" my situation. I was so wrapped up in my own emotions, trying to understand why I was failing, what I was doing wrong, that I simply didn't have time to take into account how my stepdaughter must be feeling or what she was carrying around in her head.

I just couldn't act on any advice. I could understand it the days she wasn't here and my home was calm and normal, but by the time the weekend came and I was thrown back into the chaos, the good advice went out the window and I was consumed with my own feelings again. No room for reasoning.

I have been judged for leaving my son. How could I leave him especially with a violent father. He was never violent towards my children, just towards me. And His actions were through loosing control over me. He lashed out through not knowing what to do, desperation. All i will say is that my reasons for giving my son the choice to stay and leaving him were much greater than being able to stay. They were pretty bad. My son was at an age where he could make his own choice anyway. I miss him every day, and when you don't have a child share your life, that whole left behind is endless. You can say i would never leave a child how could you, but when you are faced with a situation that doesn't really give you a choice.... well. I have to live with that every day.

So I should have been more compassionate with my stepdaughter, more understanding, but to not be able to parent my son and then for her mother to take away my ability to involve my stepdaughter in our everyday life as best we could, left me with another loss. The loss of my son and that of my stepdaughter. So I failed twice. Once as a mother for leaving my son, and once as a Stepmother for not being able to handle a situation.

I have been told I was a mans woman. Well I suppose I am because I am desperate for my situation not to happen to someone else, but who am I to throw my opinions into the works? I have the experience of an ex wife who was set out to exclude my husband from his daughters life so I know for a fact that there is one woman out there who doesn't have the interests of her child at heart, even if she thinks she does.

I am a Mother myself and I can say hand on heart that I have learned a great deal from my stepdaughters mother and how to allow my daughter to have a relationship with her dad. regardless of how I feel about him. That includes me constantly having to defend and make excuses for him when he lets her down. That's my job because I love her and don't want to see her hurt. I don't want her growing up thinking daddy couldn't be bothered,even if this is the case.

As a step mum I'm not a bad person, my only failing was coming into a relationship with my own problems and emotions and then having to deal with another load I didn't know how too. I remember a time when a step mum in a group forum had an issue (if i remember rightly) where her own daughter was being abused by her stepdaughter. Why should she have had to accept this to happen. What choices were left to her? Pity for the stepchild or protection of her own child?

Being a step mum is a hard job and not always appreciated by ex wives Sometimes its just nice to be given a break. So conclusions will be drawn, opinions will be voiced, but the one final comment I will holler when part of a stepfamily is... welcome to the madhouse!


Online support for stepfamilies

Disengaging essay.

The top 5 reasons why second marriages fail.
Larry Bilotta.

The Divorce grieving process An overview.

"I'm over you daddy!"

So once again, my husband contacts his ex wife to request in seeing his daughter and maybe take her out for tea. Her response? " it’s taken a while for you to call!" The response of my husband? " You were supposed to get back to me, what do you want me to do, keep calling you every five minutes?" He had spoken to his ex wife two weeks ago asking to see his daughter but she had told him. "You have caught me on the hop.
I'll have to think about it and let you know."

Perhaps this is what she does want. She needs my husband to be constantly contacting her; after all, their daughter is the only route of contact she has with him. And why does she keep bringing up how happy she is? Why does she feel she needs to convey this to my husband? Who is she trying to convince? He kept the conversation to the point and was eventually told that his ex wife would talk to their daughter to see how she felt.

He was graced with a return call, but I assume this was simply to gloat by telling him their daughter did not want to see him again, ever. She no longer missed him and didn't need him in her life. She had the odd bad day but that was it. Nothing else. She had told her mother, "Perhaps when I am ten and I don't cry so much I can see him again."

I'm confused. If my stepdaughter is over her daddy, why is she still crying?
Does his ex wife get some sick satisfaction when delivering this cruel message? Does she need to punish my husband for moving on with his life when she wasn't quite ready for him to do this? Speculation on my part? Of course..
At seven his daughter has no perception of what ‘never seeing daddy again’ means. I doubt she has any concept of time never mind weeks, months, years. To her it will just seem like a long time. Children don’t fully understand the sadness and loss they feel, and rarely have the ability to express or communicate their emotions; therefore it must be his ex wife that is putting words into his daughter’s mouth.

There is no doubt my step daughter will be feeling sadness. It won’t be okay for her to show this sadness to her mother, and I doubt she will be allowed to even mention her daddy without looks of disapproval and annoyance. To avoid her mother being like this she will hide her true feelings at home and be what she thinks her mother wants her to be by showing dislike towards her daddy. It is all very distressing to manipulate and brainwash children in this way but that’s exactly what parental alienation is. In my stepdaughters mind if she doesn’t do what mummy wants her to do, she may lose mummy too and heart-rending as it is, her mummy is her only source of security right now, much like my ex husband is to my son.

Then there’s unconditional love. Even if my husband’s daughter has an awareness of what her mummy is doing doesn’t seem right somehow, she will deny this to herself because she loves her mummy. She loves daddy too, but mummy has possibly told her so many untruths about daddy or his new family, but feeling totally justified in doing this, out of her need to protect her daughter. This conduct will totally confuse my stepdaughter, so no wonder when she’s at school, she is pining for him. It is the teachers that are aware of how she is feeling unlike her own mother. So whom do we believe? My husband’s daughter saying she is over her daddy, his ex wife in relaying this message, or the teacher? Personally I would have to believe the teacher, after all, she is the independent individual who has no emotional involvement, and in the classroom is where my stepdaughter can be completely free and express herself accordingly. That of missing her daddy!

What confuses me is his ex wife told him that their daughter was "over" him was quite happy to change her name and call her stepfather daddy. How can a seven-year-old child be over a parent? I am in my forties and even after how my father has treated me, I shall never be "over" him. I don't like the man but I miss my dad. I love him, and would welcome contact from him. When my husband reminded his ex wife of the conversation he had with his daughter’s teacher suggesting that his daughter quite plainly missed him, she replied, " Our daughter is finding the school annoying. She is angry that they keep ramming you down her throat."

My Husband received a telephone call from the Headmistress at his daughter’s school. His ex wife had written to the school signifying her own disapproval at how the school are involving themselves in a matter that "really doesn't concern them." The Head teacher told him how very clever the letter had been written, and on conversations with my husband’s daughter, it was very apparent that quite plainly, words had definitely been put into her mouth. At last! Someone who is not emotionally involved can see my husbands ex wife for what she really is. If she does not want what is best for her own daughter, my husband, the school and myself do.

The school have an obligation for the welfare of their students. If my stepdaughter’s behaviour should become cause for concern, then it must be dealt with, not only for her own well-being, but also for that of the other children she shares the classroom with.

So what options are left to us, to back off a little? My husbands ex wife knows how much he wants to see his daughter, she's not stupid in coming to this conclusion herself, but she's told him "No." Therefore he must leave her with the consequences of her decision. She will have to endure her daughter’s sadness that she herself has caused. It will affect her daughter’s schoolwork as it has already. But sadly, things must get worse before they get better, so my husband and I have to put our faith in knowing, for the time being, it is for the best. This action puts the ball firmly in my husbands ex wife's court.

We shall not ignore Christmas or Birthdays and my husband will continue to send his little notes to his daughter. He will not give his ex wife any more attention in asking her to see his daughter. He never stood a chance did he?
So on a last comment he asked that he could drop his daughters Christmas presents to her. On this request his ex wife told him," We can arrange to exchange them somewhere, as I don't want our daughter upset." Why is she trying to keep my husband away from his child? If his child were truly over him, why would she be upset when seeing him?

In my honest opinion I think it is my husbands ex wife who is trying to convince herself that it is in fact she who is not over her ex husband, my husband. The constant reminders of, "I am happy. I have moved on."
I myself am very happy but it is something I have never conveyed to my ex husband. What is the point? If I needed to keep telling him this, perhaps it would be because deep down, I was not. My husband is also very happy. We have a beautiful home. I have a wonderful, loving husband and he, in me, a loving wife but most important, a beautiful family. The only thing that is missing is his daughter, my stepdaughter and she is something that both of us will never be over especially my husband.

So all that remains is what my husband does now. Should he once again, adhere to his ex wives request and stay well away from his daughter so as not to upset her, or does he bulldoze in with no regard to his daughter or ex wife's request and feelings, simply to fulfil his own needs to see his daughter? By doing the latter, he could potentially upset his daughter if her request not to see him was true. To expect her to convey to him that she doesn't want to see him is far too much to expect a seven-year-old child to do. It would be heartbreaking for both himself and that of his daughter. So it looks as though, once again, his ex wife has her way, and again my husband has put his daughter and her feelings to the forefront of his own. He doesn't want his daughter to get into trouble with her mother by showing her love for him. It takes a big man to do that, which is why I adore him.

We have requested school reports and the school have sent a photo to us. We are constantly updated, on our request, for newsletters and forthcoming school events. Her drawings and keepsakes are safe in a box to be cherished, as are my own children's.
We must try not to see it as his ex wife once again having her own way, being in
control, as it will eat us away through the pain and grief. What we must take comfort in, is believing that one day this will come back to haunt her and she will not escape the consequences of making such immoral and wrong decisions so affecting her own daughters childhood. I cannot imagine how that must feel as a mother, to knowingly do this. So hopefully there will come a day that she cannot justify her actions and my husband’s daughter, will be old enough to know better. My husbands ex wife may have control just now, but one day my stepdaughter, my dear husbands daughter, willhave her own voice.

The remains of the day.

I am trying to be the best parent, wife, mother I possibly can by taking my children's and my husbands feelings into consideration. I find it hard making a simple decision. Would my husband be offended if I arranged for my daughter to see her father outside the normal contact arrangements? Am I being disloyal to my husband? Will he begin to wonder why I am being so nice towards my ex husband? I know I have felt this way when my husband has arranged things between himself and his ex wife for the sake of his child.

For me, I felt excluded and suspicious. Would my husband assume I still harbour feelings for my ex husband? The answer to that is most definitely no! I have no feelings, hidden or otherwise for my ex husband. I am simply trying to do the best for my daughter and trying to fulfil her need to be part of her father’s life. Likewise my daughter bears the added guilt of wanting to spend time with her father, but how will that make her stepfather feel? Will he feel she doesn't love him as much as her real daddy? My son avoids talking about his stepfather whilst in the company of his own father for fear of upsetting him even though my son and his stepfather have a wonderful relationship.

My son himself has expressed how he looks to his father for some things and then looks to his stepfather with help for the things his father cannot help him with. In his eyes, he now has the best of both worlds. Unfortunately we as the adults often miss this.
My daughter has to think long and hard when talking to her daddy that she doesn't call him by her step fathers name by accident, but to call her step father "daddy" when she has been in her fathers company, has no repercussions, in fact it is affectionately smiled upon even though my husband and I know he can never or will ever replace her daddy. All of these things we have loaded onto our children's shoulders, and amongst all of that, the hostility that the children have to endure from one parent towards the other.

My transition from mother to step mother hasn't been an easy ride and there are still many wounds that remain open and will never heal. My son choosing to stay with his father, my own fathers rejection and my husband loosing his daughter and myself loosing my stepdaughter. Each of us involved in our blended family has made a sacrifice. My husband has sacrificed his daughter. His daughter has sacrificed her daddy. I have sacrificed my son. My son has sacrificed his mother and his sister. My daughter has sacrificed her father and her brother. My ex husband has sacrificed his daughter, and what of my husbands ex wife? She has sacrificed nothing, her partner however, has sacrificed his three daughters and they their father. So each one of us involved in this blended family situation, has sacrificed someone, has endured the pain of a loss, my husbands ex wife has not. She hasn't given up anything.

In many books and articles is has been suggested that you cannot change someone's behaviour but what you can do is change your behaviour.
I have constantly questioned how could I change my behaviour? To accept that my husband’s ex wife has a problem with me that she wants me to have absolutely nothing to do with her daughter. The same daughter that came into my home every weekend and treated me the way she did? How could I have changed my behaviour, to sit back and pretend that it wasn't happening and to carry on regardless? The person that needed to change their behaviour was my husband’s ex wife. By her behaviour, I mean towards her own daughter, for her to have not involved her child with issues she harboured towards me and to have allowed her child to have a relationship with me. I have never been guilty of disrespecting my stepdaughter’s mother whilst she has been in my company. But I have had to listen to the multitude of comments passed from my husbands ex wife to my stepdaughter towards me.

Diary entry

Wednesday 9th August 2006

Your daughter hasn't been here for four weeks and it’s been wonderful. Horrible to say I know but that's the truth. Monday you spoke to her mother and told her you wanted your daughter back in your life. 1/2 hour before you were telling me that you have to accept what has happened and concentrate on us. I lost the plot completely and have ended up on tablets. Your ex wife says that your daughter has been saying things to her and she feels bullied by my own daughter. The health visitor is trying to get us all into mediation but how i feel at the moment, I don't want a child in my home that tells stories and causes problems. I will do everything I can to support you in seeing your daughter but not in my home, sorry. What surprises me is if all what she says has been going back to her mother, why hasn't she said something before. Where is the concern for her child? It is still obvious that when she says she doesn't know what her daughter's problem is she's probably right. Your daughter hasn't got a problem with me, her mother does!

I have indeed tried to be "The Adult" during the small time I have been permitted to be a stepparent. My only failing is to have allowed my emotions to constantly get in the way.
I wrote a letter I wanted to send but decided to step back and allow my husband to regain some control over his future when contacting his ex wife.

Dear Birth Mother,
Firstly thank you for taking the time to read this letter and hopefully you will get beyond the first paragraph before putting it in the bin.
Since the events of July and now the dust has settled a little, I hope it would be possible to begin to build bridges for my husband and his daughter to regain contact with each other.
First of all, I love my husband very much and will do anything I can to support him, something I have tried to do since we have been together. This has never been to replace you or for him to relinquish his parenting duty while your daughter was with us. Nevertheless, it is completely alien for me to have to stand aside and care for my children whilst he is caring for his own.
When I first came into your daughter’s life, and she was at Nursery, on occasion, it would be her request to stay at home with me, especially during the holidays when my daughter was not at school. I was upset when you contacted my husband to tell him that you needed to know where your daughter was and she should be at Nursery.

Nevertheless as a mother myself I can understand your anxiety. You didn't know me. Would it have been so hard for you to trust my husband’s judgment? After all he was expected to trust yours when your partner moved in with you. When my daughter visited her dad, she stayed overnight with his girlfriend and I didn't even know he had one, so I knew nothing about her at all. As a mother it concerned me, after all I was concerned for her well-being. I now have to accept that her father’s judgement of someone he wishes to share his life with is equal to mine. He is her Father.
It is very difficult to blend two families together and I have tried to do the best for everyone concerned in our family. That includes your daughter when she is here. To be told that you didn't want her friends at our home for her birthday was confusing for her and us also. Again I understand you anxieties but am not clear as to the reasons.

Changing arrangements is also hard. We are trying to be constant and be able to arrange things for our family, which includes my own children. It is not a simple case of having to consider one child in particular. I hope you can appreciate this.
Being told I have nothing to do with your daughter is a difficult task to adhere too. I am married to your daughter’s father and she comes into our home and interacts with my family to which I am part of also. She has expressed that she thinks i am the "best step mother in the world" so I find it hard but understand she tells you something different. She understandably feels loyalty towards you, which she must be credited for, but it is a heavy weight on her shoulders.
Being part of a stepfamily is the hardest role to play. There are so many "grey areas" It has never or ever will be my intention to be a better parent than you are. We both are mothers and have different ways of working. I accept I have acted in haste at times but these have been due to emotions running high, confusion and not understanding a situation and for those I can only apologise.

All I can hope for is a resolution and to be able to work together in the interests of all of our children.

On a visit to my stepdaughter’s school, the teacher has told my husband, that his ex wife has painted a very bleak picture of him. Quite simply, he doesn't want to see his daughter. My husband sat with his daughter’s teacher in tears at what she was telling him. His daughter has become introverted has long periods of silence and is in fact, pining for her daddy. He admits and accepts that the decision he has made may not have been the best one, but it was only supposed to be a temporary situation. Nothing permanent. He simply wanted to remove his daughter from a situation that was making her unhappy. The teacher understood that.

Her mother has recently remarried and is now changing my husbands daughters name, to that of her mothers married one. Her schoolbooks remain unchanged, but the book that she takes home, in her mothers writing, has been changed. The teacher has offered my stepdaughter a diary, to try to have an understanding of her feelings. Quite plainly she is indeed missing her daddy and there were quite a few extracts of this noted. Obviously her mother is sweeping her daughters feelings under the carpet as she gave the diary back to school and informed the teacher, "she doesn't need this anymore."

The teacher did tell my husband that she did find his ex wife quite "matter of fact" at times. I honestly believe my husbands ex wife can only think of one person. That is herself. As a mother she does not know how to talk to her own child. Past history has shown this. If his ex wife is capable of lying to the school about my husband, then I'm sure she's capable of lying to her daughter about her daddy.
My husband has continued to contact his daughter through cards and letters but the sadness and grief of not being able to see his daughter is painful to watch and there is nothing I can do but feel helpless.

It has affected our life to the point that he doesn't know how to be happy and I cant be happy knowing he is not so the thought of ending our marriage returns. Not because we do not adore each other, but because of the pain. The problems we have been exposed to has caused each of us to loose one another. We have grown apart and any issue my husband has regarding my son, is instantly responded with issues that my stepdaughter has brought about. It suddenly becomes "tit for tat" my kids your kids once again.

Diary entry:

Friday 01 September 2006

You came home last night and told me you had been trying to write a letter to your daughter. I know you have been missing her; you don't have to say anything to me. Changing the photo on your phone speaks volumes, I understand that. You asked me when the Health visitor was going to sort out the mediation she suggested. You talked about what you were trying to write to your daughter and I said I would help you. I will pick up some little note- lets for you too. Something special for her. I will be by your side there stomach. The fear of your daughter and the problems that come with her, are filling me with dread. You said you don't hold her responsible for any of the attitude she showed towards me. I'm afraid I have to disagree with that, as I feel she has learned to manipulate. She has shown to play you against her mother in an effort to gain some advantage.

I'm sure she has become an expert at reading the emotional environment, telling partial truths, and then telling out-and-out lies. Whether these are survival strategies that she has learned in order to keep peace at home and avoid emotional attack by her mother, it is still me that is targeted. I immediately had to text my Son, just some sort of contact with him, who since my stepdaughter has not been here, has been easier for me to accept his absence. Your daughter coming back into my life, unless there is a massive change with her mother’s attitude, will simply amplify my yearning for my son to be with me. I am panicked and at this moment in time looking back towards the tablets. Other than that, accepting that maybe we cannot live together, you without your daughter and me having to survive the attacks from her and on top of that living without is my son. One of us has to make a sacrifice. You simply are not strong enough to continue without your child and I am not strong enough to cope with the problems she brings.

You mentioned that you are resentful towards my children because they are not yours. Resent was a strong word you said. You loved them but resented them. You have had a few weeks of no contact with your child; I have had 4 years of not seeing my son everyday. I understand your resentment but wonder that it is not the same as my own. I resented your daughter because she couldn't allow me to parent her or told me "I didn't know what I no doubt of that, but if I'm honest, I am scared to death. I have a knot in my was talking about" Are your resentments simply because my children are here and yours is not?

The ironic thing is in all of this is that you once told me, had my son moved in with us, our relationship would not have lasted, yet I have had to live without my son AND be subjected to this hostile behaviour whether it is influenced by your ex wife or your daughters own demise, and I'm still here! But I really feel that I cannot be subjected to it any longer. You are distancing yourself through your grief missing her and work pressures and I understand that, but the resentment will become apparent through our,my kids your kids situation. I know there is a lot of work to be done but I haven't had time to get our relationship back on track.

I honestly think that this is now becoming a lost cause. Each time I think about it I am in floods of tears. Can I pretend to you that everything is ok, and spill out these feelings during the mediation if it gets that far? I want to be able to talk to you about this but you will instantly feel that you are back in the middle or will want to try to resolve something that cannot be resolved so I shall say nothing and have you continue to question that am I ok? You asked when you came home was I all right. I said I was feeling a little down and you responded, why, it's not because of my daughter is it? When I said no you said thank Christ for that!

So that's it. Its a subject you really want to bury your head in the sand over isn't it? So now you are left with hope in your heart of having your daughter back in your life and I am left feeling that my life is about to fall apart once again. You say because of my mood this evening, you feel like an alien well when your daughter comes back into your life all I will feel is excluded. Back where I was two years ago. And to top it all, you haven't even read any of the documentation that I have printed to argue our case. All I have done is try to support you and at the moment all I feel is alone.

I feel completely detached from my husband to the point where if I cannot be a good wife then I must try to continue to be a good mother. Alone if that is the option that remains. I sometimes feel I have lost the man I fell in love with. We have been sucked up into a tornado of problems. Unfortunately my husband has become bitter and angry towards his ex wife due to the situation with his daughter and this anger has consumed him. Focusing on this anger, everything else is unimportant. He has no room for his family. He has told me how much he loves me but at this moment cannot find room for us due to this anger. I don't know how to help him. He told me, "With all due respect, you cannot understand how I feel. You still have your son." Why is him not seeing his daughter so much more important than how little I see my son? Because he is so consumed with this anger and his emotions, he has no space for understanding and sympathy for mine.

Perhaps though, the comments my husband makes regarding my son is simply his way of communicating that he feels I don't understand, because from his perspective, I've not lost my son completely but knows he has lost his own daughter. I know comparing the situations doesn't help but understand why each of us does this. My husband is so consumed by his emotions and I understand this is normal as he would indeed be heartless not to feel anything at all. Perhaps how I feel is normal too.

I ignorantly thought, like leaving my son, once his own daughter was taken out of the equation, albeit for what we thought was her own good, we could have our "happy ending." But this would only have worked if my husband didn't care so much and one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place was because he was such a good father and caring person. But like any relationship, when someone is treating you badly you expect your partner to understand and support you but when its their children they can’t do this and that’s why I’m not convinced that blended families work well when it has so many problems to deal with. The needs and feelings of everybody just get too much.

I sometimes wonder whether we really had time to get to know each other in the normal sense of the word. When in fact, we have been flung in at the deep end with a bombardment of problems and emotions that blended families so often have. We have been so busy sorting out these problems that somewhere along the line, we haven't been allowed to learn about each other. I think about my past and wonder that if in year’s time when I am thinking about what has happened in my life, will I think of this moment and wonder where were our happy times? Did we ever really have any because we were too busy sorting problems? We need to change this. Our present will be our past and I want to remember them fondly not think "What was all that about?"
Perhaps I have come full circle from sitting alone with a bottle of pills before me wanting out of a life where a husband showed me no affection, to a man I love with all of my heart and who feels the same about me, but have no future with due to his grief. But he is aware of this and we can talk about it and move forward. United once again.

The truth will out!

The weekend July 9th 2006 has been the worst of all. I have been even more anxious on the arrival of my stepdaughter. Things seem to be getting worse again. As normal, there was nothing from her. No hello, nothing, and so I decided to clear the air and ask her, yet again, what was the problem. “Why are you ignoring me again? Do you know how upset this is making me? I just don't understand what has gone wrong again.”

A few weeks ago she was fine. After making the decision that my husband was to stop her from coming all together, she changed and things were back to how they used to be. I had a happy six year old in my home and for a short while my home was relaxed and stress free. The tension had gone, even though I was still cautious. She had written me little notes saying what a nice time she was having and that she wished she could see more of us.

So now we are back to the silence. She looked at me and said nothing. No response, no reply.” I give up.” I sighed.
It caused a disagreement between my husband and I, because as usual, I wasn't doing a great deal to coax her out of herself. "What am I supposed to do?" I enquired, "Ask what she has been doing to get no reply? How long is that going to go on for?"

There is obviously still an issue for her so as I see it, I didn't want to make her any more uncomfortable by making her talk to me. I told my husband if she wants to ignore me then fine, I don't have to stay in and put up with it. I can go out!
Sunday is still as bad. My husband has spoken with his daughter but there is still no resolution. She tells him she doesn't know what to talk to me about. The tension between my husband and myself is still stressful and I am annoyed with him for not being firmer with his daughter. He calls her to our room. She responds to her daddy like there is no problem, so when he asks what is going on she says nothing. He asks her to tell me what she told him regarding not knowing what to talk to me about. She cries and looks at me with a blank expression. I look back and shrug. "So, what is the matter?" She looks at me and says, " I have nothing to say to you." There. How can I even start to solve this? So I leave the room. I tell my husband there is no resolution. I don't want him to loose his daughter so I will leave. I am tired of this and I cant do it any more.

So he makes his decision. His daughter will stop coming, end of subject. He cannot bear the thought of being without our daughter and me. But more so, his daughter was obviously unhappy about something, was stressed when she visited us, so he needed to take her out of this environment. What I have struggled to understand is, if she has been so unhappy here, why hasn't her mother said something? Why has she continued to send an obviously upset child somewhere she was not happy to go? Having to see his own daughter away from our home will not work for him. What do we tell the child we have together? Another set of problems? His daughter is either part of this family or not. He takes her home Sunday morning, not before taking her to the local park to let her know how much we all love her. We don't know what is making her unhappy so to save her any more upset perhaps it would be better for a short while for her to stay at mummy's all of the time.

When my husband came home he was devastated. Having to explain to his daughter that she won’t be coming anymore was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. He felt ashamed. She had told him how much she would miss him, my children and myself. She didn't understand. None of us understand.

I have tried to think if there was any other way, but the decision had been made. I feel totally responsible, perhaps if I had done this or maybe if I had done that, but nothing made an ounce of difference. I have called in health visitors and have even taken counselling. This whole predicament was down to me and I have exhausted myself trying to resolve it. The problem will now go away but it has left an enormous void. Can my husband ever come through this and can my marriage possibly survive?

Monday morning my husband has spoken little of the events of yesterday. Am I to be left wondering if he, somehow still holds me responsible? I called him at work and he sounded completely devastated. Panic set in. As a couple can we survive this? If I had known this was going to be as hard as it was, I would never allowed him to make the decision. But once a decision is made he never goes back on it and this one he did without consulting me. If I am honest, my husband, my marriage and our relationship are my priority. His daughter being left not seeing her daddy came a close second. I had to do something. I had to make things right again, even if it meant stepping to one side. My husband’s happiness is everything to me and I couldn't bear to see him so distraught.

So I did the silliest thing I could possibly think of. I bundled my youngest daughter in the car and set off to see my husbands ex wife, my stepdaughter’s mother.
I was surprisingly calm. I'm not big on confrontations at all and I was unsure of the reception through my head. Yes, we could sit down as adults and sort this mess out. Yes, my husbands ex wife would be happy to discuss where we went from here; after all we both wanted the same thing didn’t we. Her daughters happiness. I honestly thought I could persuade her to let me collect her daughter from school with an overnight bag, and we could pick daddy up from the station and see the look of complete elation on his face at having his little girl back in his life. How naive.

I pulled up outside her house and walked up the path. I knocked lightly on the glass. My husbands ex wife slowly came to the door. "Can you spare me five minutes of your time to sort this mess out?" I must say I wasn't really prepared for the reply. I stupidly thought she would put her daughters feelings over her own. Absolutely not! She looked at me with contempt and hatred.

"How dare you stand on my doorstep? I'm not going to talk to you. I suggest you go away." She closed the door in my face, leaving me stood on the path. I couldn't let this go and I wasn't leaving until this was sorted so I knocked again. She came back and opened the door. Again I was told.
"Go away you don't want my daughter."
At which point she again shut the door in my face. So I resorted to pleading to her through the glass.
"Please." I said, "This isn't down to me. I never stopped her from coming. I just want her to keep on seeing her daddy, that's all."
Again she opened the door so I continued.
"Who had told you I didn't want your daughter? It has nothing to do with not wanting her Of course I want her."
What I wanted most of all was my fantasy and my stepdaughter was always part of that. For my husband, his daughter and my own children to be able to live a happy, uncomplicated life together.
"Was it my step daughter that had said I didn't want her?" I questioned. "Or was it someone else? She's told me things that you have supposedly said too. She didn't have to talk to me if she didn't want to."
The reply came.
"Yes that's right. I have told her she doesn't have to speak to you or anyone that makes her uncomfortable. So what?"

I was flabbergasted. No wonder we were having such problems. Every time she visited us, she wasn't allowed to talk to me. Each I had asked her what the problem was and she said she didn't know, she was telling the truth. Each time I asked her if she disliked me and she said no, she was telling the truth. Each time she was asked why she was ignoring me and she said she had nothing to say, she was telling the truth. She had nothing to say because if she had spoken to me then she was being disloyal to her mummy. I cannot believe the pressure this little girl had been under for such a long time, let alone the effect it has had on me, based on a comment made by her mother because she possibly felt that I gave her daughter more attention than she did herself. Perhaps she felt she couldn't compete with how I am as a mother. I wasn't caring for her daughter to score points or make it into some competition as to who was the better mother. There were no special favours or treats. We did nothing together that I wouldn't have done with my own children. But after a comment like that, for a moment, I certainly felt like a better mother than she was. I could never have made my child do something because of my own issues or to get back at my ex husband.

I told my husbands ex wife that I had tried everything in my power to find out what the problem was. I had even telephoned my step daughters school. At this point she stared angrily at me and asked. " What right do you have to contact my daughters school? How dare you. You have nothing to do with my daughter!"
I responded. "How can I have nothing to do with her? I am married to her daddy!"
" I don't care, go away." And once again she shut the door. I watched her walk up the stairs through the glass and as a last resort called through the letterbox.
"Please," I begged, " I am willing to sacrifice my marriage so your daughter can have a relationship with her daddy." There was no response. Instead she continued to climb the stairs. I stood on the step for a few seconds, still hoping that she may come back and talk, resolve this for her daughter’s sake. But no. So I turned around and holding back my tears, walked up the path, got into my car and drove away. I was astounded this woman was not even prepared to talk about what had happened. An overwhelming feeling of failure gripped me. I have failed as a stepmother and failed as a support for my husband.

The feeling of complete despair suddenly changed to a feeling of resolution, as I now knew for sure that the problem was not mine. There would have been little I could have done to forge any relationship between my stepdaughter and myself. His ex wife would never allow it. I believe she would have acted in the same way towards anyone my husband formed a relationship with so I should not take her actions personally.

When I arrived home, I contacted my husband and told him what I had done. The desperation in his voice instantly told me I had done the wrong thing. Any possibility of reconciling with his daughter was now gone. I had destroyed any chance of that. Little wifey going off to fight his battles again. That's not how it was. I explained the reason I had subjected myself to complete humiliation on her doorstep. I had done it for him and his daughter and after explaining everything his ex wife had said to me, he started to listen and seemed less agitated.
He came home from work early to talk, and slowly realised that yes, it was down to his ex wife that this situation had happened and we both agreed that there would be nothing I could ever have done to continue and have a relationship with his daughter. Even though he had told his daughter she was to stop coming and how desperately sad it had made him, he suddenly felt a little easier with his decision. He could see it wasn’t my fault and I think we were both relieved. His ex wife had called him a coward; she was good at name-calling. After his birthday weekend and the fuss he made about arranging a party on his birthday weekend she had called him a big baby. He didn’t regard himself as a coward at all. He felt by taking his daughter out of a situation that was making her so uncomfortable, he was actually doing the best thing for her .

It is not the best for my husband to be without his daughter, but if his ex wife cannot be adult enough to accept he has moved on, has a new wife who shares an interest with his daughter, then there is no hope. The most important thing is that he has not made a choice. By this I mean he has not chosen me over his daughter. She knows she can call him any time, if she is allowed too obviously, and we will always be here for her, but until she can make choices for herself and not be influenced by her mother, it would be best for her to remain stable and nearly completely happy, rather than have her distressed and troubled in a situation she can not understand. I respect my husband completely for his decision. He feels he is doing the best for his child. He is putting her first, something her mother should take a lesson from.
Myself, I came away from his ex wife’s house feeling a better person than she will ever be. I would sacrifice anything for my husband’s happiness and do anything for him and his daughter for them to have had a relationship. Clearly something his ex wife has no intention of doing.

It’s going to take a while to come to terms with my stepdaughter not sharing our lives. This is not how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to be one big happy family, but a bitter ex wife, with insecurities regarding her own motherhood, or the need to control, has taken our lives on a different path, and I don’t believe we shall be hearing the last of it. What I need to do now is focus on my relationship with my husband and help us both to help each other come through this. I need to get my mind out of the rut it has fallen into by validating the many fears that I have and focus on the rewards, my three wonderful children, my beautiful home and my Husband. The most attentive, supportive, wonderfully sexy man I have ever known.


It may seem that I am obsessed with my husbands ex wife. Infatuated with her perhaps. But this is certainly not the case. I know I waste far too much energy on her. She is simply the key to my stepdaughter’s behaviour towards me I'm sure. Or would it be easer to accept that she is actually a child with a very nasty streak in her, capable of treating an adult with such disrespect? I don‘t think for a moment she is. She would have to be very clever for her age to be a normal happy child to most of the people in her life, and then try really hard at being someone else when she is at home with us.
This whole situation makes me miss my son even more. I have to share my home with a disrespectful child when in actual fact I want to share my home with my son. Her behaviour brings all the emotions of being without him to the surface. That in itself is hard for me to carry, which adds to the resentment.
Understanding her actions is all I seem to concentrate on at present. We have been graced with a school report this year and already I am looking for a hidden agenda. I don't trust my husbands ex wife’s nicey nicey approach at all. It just isn’t in her character. There is always an alternative schedule with her. I cannot accept that she is simply giving my husband a school report to give him some involvement in their daughter’s progress. We never received one last year. Even the school photograph that his ex wife sent was passport sized. The size we would of liked was sent over to “ grandmas” Who was more important here, daddy or Grandma? Obviously Grandma!

The school report was wonderful. My stepdaughter is making excellent progress. Her work is consistently high. She is confident and independent. Her reading and writing is to a very high standard but her greatest pleasure is performing! She adores drama, role-play or reading to an audience. Fantastic. But all I can sit and think about is, if she can read to an audience of complete strangers, is confident enough to act, why cant she talk to me? We have been in each other’s life for over three years. Where is her confidence with me? Why, when she is here, does she look so frightened and timid? Where is this confident independent child? Are we talking about the same one?

I do wonder what the agenda was of my husband’s ex wife in the summer holidays of 2005. I had taken my daughter and our new baby daughter to the local park. My stepdaughter was there with her mother. Once my stepdaughter had noticed my daughter she came running over to me and our baby daughter, who was in the pushchair, jumped onto my lap and started talking to me. To my horror, shortly behind her was her mother, my husband’s ex wife. Was she coming towards me? Sure enough, she strolled up, her own new baby in her arms and began chatting like we were old friends. I made pleasant conversation. What was I supposed to do? Our children surrounded us. She commented on what a lovely baby I had. Now I found this very strange and a tad uncomfortable to say the least. Was she comparing babies? Did she simply want a look at the child her ex husband and I had made together? I will admit I was extremely two faced but was polite, and was glad to get away. My husband’s ex wife has never made polite conversation with me since. Perhaps she is the one who is obsessed with me!

It is hard, not to create a personal vendetta towards my husbands ex wife over the way she is raising her daughter and for me to imagine that I can perform a far better job that she can. She constantly gives me reasons to doubt her role as a mother. My stepdaughter has a new bicycle, and has told my husband that she rarely uses it because no one will go outside with her. A new pair of rolling skates remains unused in the cupboard, again for the same reason. Mummy doesn't have the time for bedtime stories and we often frown upon my husbands ex wife. Why is she not spending the time with her own daughter to teach her these menial things? But then, if I'm honest with myself, there are such things that I am guilty of for not spending time with my own daughter, bedtime reading being one of them.
Does that make me a bad mother? I should hope not as we do so many other things together as I am sure my stepdaughter’s mother does with her. We only seem to hear of the things that her mother fails to do with her.


Our next plan of action is to change the weekend arrangements. We are to suggest that my husbands daughter, instead of being collected Saturday evening and returned home Sunday evening every weekend, we alternate them. My husband collects her Friday evening and returns her home Sunday evening. In theory, she will be here two nights so she can settle in and be more involved with our family. I always thought what a silly arrangement it was for her to come for twenty-four hours. By the time she has settled in, she is going home. It will then give me a weekend off if she continues to be hostile towards me. I am hoping I can cope with two days a fortnight.

I doubt this will be convenient with her mother. I still believe that she cant wait to have her weekends without her own daughter, so suggesting this to her, I'm sure will have some excuse as to why it cant happen. But then thinking about it, she will have a whole weekend too. For me, it will free up a weekend so I can visit my son more frequently. This seems like such a better idea. My husband seems in agreement also but I do sense that even though he will have contact for longer, the idea of seeing her every weekend is more appealing to him. He knows suggesting this new arrangement is a hopeless case though. Having to "ask " to change plans simply to be told "no" makes him wonder why he is even going to bother to try. His ex wife likes to be in control and by saying no she is doing exactly that.

Regarding the party situation and my husbands ex wife accepting them on our behalf, he has asked that he be given the decision to accept or decline. She has accommodated him recently, but this hasn't been the first time and she slipped back into her controlling ways after a few weeks so it certainly wont be long before she is taking control of our weekends again. She just can’t help herself!
My husband and I (I sound like the Queen!) haven’t discussed the downside to this potential arrangement change. It all seems like a good idea but things never run smoothly, and this was another incident that did just that.

My husband returned form collecting his daughter and told me that arrangements had been changed and his ex wife was in agreement. The only problem that there was is that his daughter had swimming lessons on a Saturday. So I asked what time the lessons were. He didn’t know. I asked this because my daughter has riding lessons on a Saturday, has done for the past two years so hadn’t he thought about checking to see that they didn’t collide? Instantly this caused another heated discussion. Why was I looking for problems? I didn’t think I was. I was annoyed that he had not mentioned that he was going to change the arrangements so soon without a deciding discussion. The last thing we talked about was that he didn’t think his ex wife would go for it and he certainly never mentioned he was going to suggest the change when he left to fetch his daughter that night. We hadn’t sat down and thought about if either girl had a party on the same day, at the same time, how were we going to get each of them to their respective party at the same time? What annoyed him the most was my comment regarding his daughter swimming. I assumed that he would be expecting me to change my daughter’s horse riding to accommodate his own daughter swimming lessons. Would this be the case with the party’s too? Because he was now seeing his daughter once a fortnight, would my daughter come second to his, where organised functions were concerned. My answer to that is yes she would.

This is obviously the wrong thing to say. One minute I want to change the arrangement the next I am going back on it. How is he supposed to go back to his ex wife and tell her that he’d changed his mind because there were things we hadn’t thought about?
Had we discussed this properly instead of him jumping in feet first and making his own decision and not discussing it with me first, we wouldn’t be in this mess would we? I get so tired of not being able to make a straightforward decision. Everything has to be so thought out. What happens if this or what happens if that? It is draining. Would it be simpler to leave things as they were?

I think he sometimes forgets that we are not in a normal relationship. He has a daughter that visits once a week. I have a daughter here all of the time. If we all lived together as normal families do, and there was the odd occasion that weekend activities overlapped with each other, then you work around that. I wasn’t having my daughters arrangements changed just to accommodate my step daughters infrequent visits. Instant favouritism and another problem that I certainly didn’t want to have to deal with.

My kids your kids!

Concerning our respective children, perhaps I look for differences in the way they are treated or who my husband prioritises, his child or my child, but I know they are not all in my head. This weekend has been a good example. I know I haven’t had my stepdaughter visit for the last two weeks as she has been on holiday with her mother, but last night she persisted to chase my young daughter around the chair and after several attempts asking her to stop, she continued completely ignoring me. Had this been my own daughter my husband would have told her to stop expecting his request to immediately be carried out.

I have been witness to the preferential treatment my stepdaughter receives from her daddy, my daughter is disciplined with a distinct tone, my stepdaughter receives a much softer tone making the request more of a gentle statement. The bed-time routine causes the most problems. My daughter has a bed-time routine of 8.30pm my stepdaughter 7.30pm. My daughter being four years older gets the extra hour. When my stepdaughter arrives on Saturday at 6.30pm, her bed-time is often overlooked, my husband’s excuse is his daughter has been in the house an hour, then he’s packing her off to bed, so 7.30pm often creeps on to 8.00pm. My daughter, quite rightly, requests the extra half hour as it seems quite fair to her to have her bed-time extended alongside my stepdaughter, but this doesn’t happen, 8.30pm on the dot, my husband insists bed-time.

My daughter looks heavily towards me to defend her after all, what’s good for one is
good for the other. It’s taken a while for my husband to accept how important it is to not show any favouritism, even though to him, he is not.
We have had an incident concerning a watch. My daughter has a watch with a very distinctive strap, blue with little pink dolphins embroidered on it. It has been well worn so is far from new. A few weeks ago while my daughter and stepdaughter were playing in my daughter’s bedroom. My stepdaughter asked if she could wear it and was told ‘of course you can but I don’t want you wearing it home okay.’ My daughter was more than happy to let her wear it while she was here as in the past hair bobbles that are used to tie up my stepdaughters hair are never returned and I spend an absolute fortune on them. If they’re not in one of her dollies hair they’ve found their way to the bottom of a drawer never to be seen again.

Monday morning while getting herself ready for school, my daughter commented she couldn’t find her watch. I told her not to worry, I was sure it would turn up. A few weeks later on one of her visits my stepdaughter walked into the house wearing a watch identical to the one belonging to my daughter. Unable to find my daughter’s and not wanting to point fingers I commented on the watch my stepdaughter was wearing and she told me her mummy had bought it for her recently. It was certainly far from new, quite grubby and worn in fact and as my daughter was clearly upset over the loss of her own, I decided the only fair way to handle the dispute was to confiscate it from both children until the second one turned up. I wanted to treat this situation as if they were both my children as I didn't want either child to think I was favouring one over the other.

After my husband dropped his daughter home he received a text message from his ex wife demanding the return of her daughter’s watch. The week leading up to my stepdaughter’s next visit, along with my daughter, we turned her bedroom upside down but to no avail. My daughter’s favourite watch had simply disappeared. This dispute went on for a few weeks. My husbands ex wife put her ex husband in the picture on how upset his daughter is and that I had called my stepdaughter a liar. My husband asked, ‘exactly how did you handle the episode?’ I felt he was questioning the way I dealt with the situation but one thing I will say for my husband is we can be brutally honest with each other and he knew how I intended to handle the loss because I had discussed it with him prior to talking with the girls. He told me he needed to know just in case he had to defend me to his ex wife.

Communication is the key to our relationship, apart from the obvious, something that was lacking in both mine and my husband's former marriages, my ex husband assuming any problems I had were brought on by 'that time of the month.' Being honest is the key but becomes difficult when dealing with each others children. How do you tell the person you love, 'can't stand your child.' Its not quite so easy to love me love my kids. My husband collected his daughter the next weekend along with a message from his ex wife. She had purchased an identical watch for her daughter the previous year because my stepdaughter liked it so much but unfortunately she had mislaid it. My stepdaughter had discovered it behind some books in her bedroom and was over the moon that she had found it again, roughly about the same time my daughter had lost hers. So I am thinking, what a coincidence, perhaps she 'replaced' her own watch with my daughters, frightened she may get into trouble. I felt I was under suspicion myself so to keep the peace, gave my stepdaughter the watch, leaving my own daughter without hers which, incidentally, we have never found.

Sometimes when my son visits I feel my husband is constantly on his case. He is
expected to respect how we live and follow our rules of the house but regarding my step daughter, her behaviour is often overlooked because my husband doesn't want to confuse her. There seem to be rules for one and rules for the other. I loose my patience.
It is not a common occurrence but my stepdaughter knows how to tweak daddy's heart strings. Both she and my daughter were outside playing. My daughter came in through the front door but my stepdaughter came through the back gate and sat in the garden. After a short time she eventually came inside, appearing to be deeply distressed. My husband, rushing to her aid, asks what is wrong? She said she didn't want to use the front door because our daughter was asleep. I was confused as our daughter certainly wasn't asleep and my own daughter had walked through the front door with my stepdaughter right behind her. She can turn on the tears and my husband falls for it every time.
When my step daughter arrives on Saturday evenings, it is an awful time for me as I am trying to settle our young daughter to bed and all my step daughter can do is excite her. While I am trying to calm my daughter for bedtime, my stepdaughter is stimulating her. She continues to do this and daddy says nothing. Is it because my husband sees it as my job to tell her or his guilt preventing him from discipline? I have repeatedly spoken to her regarding this which hasn't impressed her too much as she tells my daughter how much she hates me and wants to go home. I feel for my daughter having to listen to a child slander her own mother and there is nothing she can do except listen to it. My stepdaughter is able to disrespect me to my own daughter then threaten my child with telling her daddy.

My daughter is told off by my husband for not sharing her things, but when the tables are turned and my stepdaughter refuses to share her toys, I advise my daughter that's it's ok. If my stepdaughter chooses not to share her things then fine, she cannot expect my daughter to share her things too and this normally makes both girls stop and think.
My daughter has a games console in her bedroom, and after a disagreement between her and my stepdaughter, my daughter took herself off to her room to play alone. My stepdaughter asked if she could come in and play her console. She shows little interest in the playstation but seems contented to watch my daughter. Her request was denied as my daughter wanted to be left alone, so immediately my stepdaughter sought out her daddy and told him my daughter wouldn’t let her in her bedroom to play the playstation so would he come and play on it with her and on that request he did. My daughter was distraught and came downstairs in floods of tears. She had gone to her room to be away from my stepdaughter and because daddy said he would play with her, my daughter’s space was invaded by the child she wanted to escape from. I explained the circumstances to my husband, much to my stepdaughters disgust, and they left my daughter’s room. My daughter relies on me to come to her defence, she has no one else all though there are times, incidents with lost watches, I just cannot.

I think I am quite a fair parent. I have three children so I've been here before with sharing and invading each other’s rooms. Children, at times, need their own space but my husband frequently undermines my decisions in favour of his own daughter because of his guilt and little possessions his daughter has while she stays. Over time, how we parent the children is becoming more agreeable to us both and even though I may have views on some things my husband has his, we always try to meet somewhere in the middle. But there are instances I have my way and he has his. The favouritism results in my daughter’s dislike for my stepdaughter, simply for turning on the tears and running to daddy all of the time just for her to have her own way, but I know sibling rivalry occurs in normal families, blended families seem to enhance it.

Any issues that are raised over the course of the weekend are often a hot topic for my husband and I to discuss when the children are in bed. We give our views or opinions then listen to each others responses which, hopefully, will enable us to try and find some common ground. But although my husband agrees on most issues I raise concerning his daughter, and his concerning my children, his emotions always get the better of him, leaving me the feeling of no way forward. It seems our whole house is turned upside down when my stepdaughter visits so after the recent scenario concerning my daughter’s bedroom, my husband decides, because of his daughters banishment from her room, toys must now be played with downstairs. What if I don't want the mess? Surely this is what bedrooms are for so this is not a solution. My stepdaughter will never learn respect for other people’s belongings and personal space, but my husband cannot bear the thought of her being upset so, once again, my stepdaughter and her feelings are put first.

My children are not perfect and they have their faults. My son, a typical teenager, has many and I am subjected to constant criticism concerning them from my husband. I agree on the many points my husband raises regarding my son, taking them all on the chin, because much of the time I hate to say, he is right. My son can be an obnoxious teen at times, yet it is hard for me because I am not raising him, forcing me to relate to my husbands guilt concerning his daughter. I try to have as much input in my son’s life as I can but it’s not the same, as he is not living with me. Unfortunately any criticism I have of my stepdaughter is taken as a personal attack and then we have a my kids your kids debate.

If my husband passes comment regarding my son then I counter attack and pass comment on an issue I have with his daughter. It is my way of getting him to understand that he can criticize and punish my son when he messes up, but where his daughter is concerned, his pain and guilt because he is unable to share her life full time, gets the better of him. I don't have a problem with him disciplining my children, most of the time the decision is a joint one anyway, if only he could do the same with his daughter when required. I only have the one issue with my stepdaughter, my husband has many issues with my son; one of them ironically is the way he talks to me.

Mothers day and the weather is cold, damp and windy, quite depressing so doesn't help lift my mood. I wait for the post on Saturday but nothing except the odd bill. No card from my son. My husband spoke to him the previous day with a reminder of how important Mothers Day is to me, especially as we are apart. My son’s excuse is he doesn’t have the money to purchase a card, just like the excuses his father used to make, but instead he is working on a power point presentation for me. I assume this means I will be expecting something via e-mail, so this morning, I excitedly check the mail to discover... nothing. I cannot express my sorrow as my daughters have bought cards and presents and I must to keep my disappointment from them. My daughters, and their excitement about this day, have the desire to pamper me alongside my husband as he senses the need to compensate for my sons insensitivity. No doubt my son will contact me in due course to offer his apologies and as his mother, because I love him and miss him, will accept them.

So my husband offers a hug providing the opportunity to cry into his shoulder. Unfortunately I have to listen to my husband voice his opinions and how inconsiderate and selfish my son can be and how he is the one who is subjected to my depression brought on by my sons actions. My husband is sick to death of him continually hurting and showing such little respect for me but I know my husband's actions are purely out of love and his need to protect, but who's going to protect me from my husband when he is ranting this way about my son? He cannot shield me from my own child.

My protective instincts kick in and I temporarily detach from my husband. I sit and listen to everything he has to say but it is difficult. My husband can moan about my son and openly express his anger, but forgets how his own daughter, my stepdaughter treats me. My husband has to understand and accept, if I can forgive my sons behaviour, then he must too. Am I allowed to express my anger towards her? No and kids can be so selfish and cruel at times.

When talking to my husband, his daughter is a closed topic because the anguish and guilt of only seeing her one-day a week, always gets the better of him. How frustrating, but what annoys me most, is when my son comes to visit, he uses our shampoo, how trivial, but my husband will pass comment on how my son is using his shampoo and really should bring his own. Is this an indication for me to suggest to him that perhaps his daughter should bring her own soap and toothpaste? So you see how it gets? His daughter is a separate issue to my own children. My kids, his kids.

Diary entry

Monday 8th August

You’ve mentioned about the toiletries in the bathroom for my son. Well you moan when he uses your shampoo so I’m sure you would moan if he used your smellies too. We have things for your daughter to use every week so you see, they are out for her too use every week too, but because they are girls stuff, you don’t see it. This must really eat you up, but you forget, that you have your Daughter in the flesh every week. I get my son when he feels like coming. You are seeing things as though I don’t care about your daughter at all and all I’m interested in is my son. All I have lately is you verbally bashing me over events of the weekend regarding your daughter and what I’m not doing for her. I think I’ll just have to stop my son visiting and go see him in on neutral ground. Perhaps a hotel.