Each day brings with it new challenges. The sharing debate isn't quite so much of an issue now as it was to begin with. My daughter, because this is her home, has a beautiful bedroom full of wonderful things. She has a portable television, play station, CD player amongst a multitude of books. There are cans of body sprays offering every conceivable fragrance and posters on her wall of the latest pre-teen hunk that happens to be flavour of the month. Her things are out on display; it is her room, her own space so if she chooses to be in her room alone then it's her choice.
If she is away from home, visiting friends of her daddy when my step daughter visits, then her room becomes a no go zone. This causes many disagreements between myself and my husband at times as he quite rightly argues that as his daughter doesn’t have a television or play station in her room so she should be able to wander freely into my daughters room and use anything she pleases. I have explained to my husband this is my daughter’s home, her room, and the four year age gap between the two girls means some things are not suitable for my stepdaughter to play with. My daughter is quite particular about some things. There are many precious trinkets on display both friends and family have given to my daughter and I would be devastated for her if anything was broken. In the past I have never allowed my own children to invade each other’s space even if it caused World War three, so I'm not
showing favouritism over my stepdaughter towards my own daughter. It may seem unfair but my stepdaughter has her own bedroom at her own home with her mummy, after all she is only here one night a week.
Nevertheless, they do play with their dolls in her room and my daughter will share absolutely anything when they are playing together. I believe at the age of ten she needs to share the understanding that some things are personal to her and she should be well within her rights to have a say and allow my stepdaughter to use her things or not. This arrangement is not exclusive to my own daughter . If my stepdaughter wishes to be alone, her requests are considered and respected too. When she has returned to her mummy, if my own daughter wishes to play with an item that belongs to my stepdaughter, the same rule applies.
I feel its polite to ask and each child learns to respect and care for something that doesn't belong to them. Until she is able to ask my stepdaughter if she can play with something, her room is a no go zone to my daughter also. We don't allow them absolute control as not allowing the use of a pen just because they don't feel like sharing it is not acceptable and I will intervene.
We have many items that are kept in a neutral area and shared by both of our children so there are no arguments over this. Needless to say, after spending an absolute fortune on posters for my stepdaughters wall, pens, paper, books and stickers for her to use in her own room, she never spends any time in there playing. Even when my daughter is not here, my stepdaughter will sit alongside her daddy and watch the television. But perhaps she is spending quality time with him and simply being near him is enough for her whatever he is watching. She has little initiative to play alone when she is without my daughter to entertain her. Perhaps all that time in Nursery and after school clubs, having activities set out, things to play with, and being told what to do, its not surprising that she has no imagination or incentive to play on her own. We have never had the luxury of receiving my stepdaughter's first school report from my husbands ex wife which may give us some insight to how she plays at school or interacts with other children.
I don't love my stepdaughter. It has nothing to do with how she treats me, even when I first entered her life, I thought she was an absolute sweetie and was extremely fond of her, but I didn't love her. I feel guilty purely because my husband says he loves my children. Perhaps it’s my motherly instinct preventing me from loving her, but why should I she's not mine, I never gave birth to her so the natural bond is not there. If i am expected to love her, should I be expected to love every child that doesn't belong to me, my friend’s children, my daughter’s friends from school? At this moment in time, I don't really know how I feel towards her except that I am very sad.
Monday 8th August
We had yet another “discussion” about the rights and wrongs of my daughter's things and her room and what affect it is having on your daughter. You threw at me, once again, about the setting up of the room for my son when he comes. I have said I am more than happy to get it ready for your daughter but you have said on more than one occasion, not to bother. So today I’ve set it for your daughter. Wiped all traces of my Son just so she has somewhere to go when she’s here. It means nothing to you that I don’t put his things out especially for my son, I do it for me. Its somewhere for me to go when he’s not here.
But hey, looks as though my feelings don’t matter. It seems that my son is expected to give up his bedroom even if he's been sleeping in there for a week as you have a problem with your daughter loosing her room when she is here for one night so I’ll just not have my son to stay or arrange his visit to not interfere when your daughter is here. We can’t expect your daughter to give up her room. She doesn’t understand! Yes she does understand as we have explained that her room is also used for my son when he visits and she even made a sign for the door for him. I need him to feel he has a room here too just like your daughter but it becomes so one sided. I'll just go visit him at least it will give me a break and you the quality time you so miss with your daughter. Will she play in her room? No I doubt it. What will she do alone with you? Watch motorsport no doubt.
Incidentally, your daughter understands that she must use the toilet next to her room and not the upstairs one so as not to wake the baby so why can she not understand at times my daughter doesn’t want her in her room?
From now on I’ll just ask you what to do or buy for your daughter. That way I’ll be getting it right and you cant blame me for anything.
When I became pregnant with our first child my husband and I share, we told our children, my son, my daughter and my husband’s daughter. Everything was fine and they were all excited once again with the prospect of having a new sister. My husbands ex wife however, asked why we had withheld our news from her. She had told my husband when she herself became pregnant three months earlier, his response, "so?" When she queried why he hadn't said anything to her, he politely told her it was absolutely none of her business.
The same inquisitive questioning came when my husband asked if he would be able to collect his daughter on Friday the next weekend as we were getting married. Apparently, my husband said, her face hit the floor. He said she genuinely looked upset and asked what time and where it would be taking place. I find this need to know our affairs quite annoying, along with wondering if she was going to arrive unannounced on our wedding day. I have no interest whatsoever in my ex husbands plans or life so naturally I never enquire, so I fail to comprehend my husband's ex's interest in ours. Emotionally detached? Perhaps not.
I went into labour with my 2nd daughter Good Friday, delivering her Saturday, discharged and allowed home Sunday. Naturally my husband put off his daughters visit but on my homecoming I couldn't cope with my stepdaughter being part of it. Horrible, how could I? I know, but she is being so cruel with her ability to isolate me from my family, there is absolutely no way she is going to spoil this for me. I can see how sad my husband is by all of this. She is his daughter and she will be missing out on her sibling’s homecoming, and not visiting her daddy on her usual Sunday.
He is trying to keep his emotions from me, but I know him. My daughter is here, obviously but I need to remember this special moment untainted and unspoilt, so having his daughter not visit this weekend is my only option. We can settle in quietly and share our special moment together, my husband, my daughter, myself and our beautiful baby girl. My husband will arrange an earlier visit for his daughter during the week. Once again his ex wife has questioned our decision. She has a knack of expecting to alter our weekends to suit herself when she has plans or arrangements, but when my husband changes the routine, all hell breaks loose.
It can become very frustrating to have our weekends changed for three consecutive weeks, causing my husband to not see his daughter, then be expected to collect her early Saturday dinnertime because my husband's ex's partner has an appointment somewhere! Convenient babysitter springs to mind, but my husband accepts because he simply wants to see his child. In the beginning, the arrangement between my husband and his ex wife was fairly flexible. If a day needed to be changed, then days would be swapped to accommodate. But she began to change this.
If my husband asked for a day to be swapped, for example, to collect his daughter Friday instead of Saturday, for the next six or seven weeks, she would ask for numerous day swaps in return. This began to interfere with any plans we had arranged and we either had to change or cancel them, all for swapping one day. So in the end we stopped asking which meant many plans that could potentially involve his daughter, family gatherings etc, unfortunately my stepdaughter would not be part of. This way we know where we are with days, arrangements and plans so we can try to keep my stepdaughter a fairly organised routine. I feel it is important for children to have some sort of routine as it gives them a sense of security and lets face it, they need to feel secure especially after the break up of their family. His ex wife continues to dominate our weekends though with party invites or trips to the local park their daughter, his ex says, simply doesn't want to miss. Why can’t she share the attitude that I have? As my stepdaughter is only here for one day, if it were my child, I would encourage her to spend the day with her father, or discreetly talk to my husband without letting on to their daughter about parties and park visits, and have him make the decision. But my stepdaughter is not my child and her mother seems to think it is perfectly acceptable to give a child so young the choice.
The disruptive weekend changing that injured my husband the most was his birthday weekend. His ex wife must have known when his birthday is but she accepted a party on his behalf yet again, which would mean a fifteen-mile trip there and back to drop his daughter. Our plans for going out to lunch as a family will have to be changed and his ex informs him that their daughter desperately wants to go to the party. My husband decides that as he has no intentions of spoiling our weekend, her mother can take her to the party leaving him to sacrifice another day as he will not be expected to change yet another weekends plans to suit his ex wife. The saddest thing is that his ex wife conveniently forgot to mention to my stepdaughter that it was her daddy's birthday or suggest he may be doing something special. The following weekend when I mentioned she had missed her daddy's birthday, she looked visibly upset and I really can't say that I didn't blame her.
Wednesday 9th Nov 2005
Haven't had your daughter for three weeks. Her mother has repeatedly made plans for her and a she has yet another party this weekend. I think you pissed her off by telling her as it was your birthday weekend and you had plans that you weren't going to change because she had said yes to a birthday party, she could ferry her daughter there and back. She called you a big baby. That must be the only thing she can think of.
I do feel though that she says your daughter needs to see you when your ex wife decides she needs to see you. I'm fed up with being left in the air or having her dictate our weekends again. This woman is power hungry control freak.
Nevertheless, she needs to understand that she is NOT in control. I know you want to see your daughter, but by letting your ex wife decide when she comes, puts her continually in control of our lives. Other than that, tell her that if Saturday to Sunday is not convenient, then we are more than happy to swap to Friday night till Saturday on a permanent basis. Lets see how things pan out.
Having children has certainly dictated or caused havoc to any social life we once had. Gone are the days where a last minute decision to paint the town red become overshadowed with the realisation that babysitters are not always to hand for such last minute decisions, they may not be available. It is having to rely on a babysitter that reality sets in so we rarely enjoy an evening out just the two of us. The nearest we get to a romantic dinner for two at an intimate French restaurant becomes the not so romantic dinner for, "two adults, two children please," at the local pizza hut. Our wedding anniversary was no exception. Having our young baby daughter in tow, we arranged to go out for a meal at the local carvery. We decided to eat Sunday lunchtime so we would be able to include my stepdaughter. A few weeks prior to this, my husband received the now all to common excuse that his daughter didn’t want to come, so it was going to be nice for my husband to have his daughter involved in our special day.
When she arrived on Saturday evening, she was clearly suffering with a very nasty cough and cold, and by Sunday I was wondering whether we should cancel our long awaited plans as she still seemed quite poorly. She told her daddy she had been feeling really unwell all week but due to mummy having to work, there was no option but for her to attend school. We decided to go ahead with our lunch plans but it wasn't very enjoyable. My stepdaughter sat at the table wearing a thick padded coat throughout dinner and barely eating anything, so my husband decided we should forget pudding and make for home. End of our nice day, but both myself and my husband agreed that his daughter should really be at home.
Once we arrived home all my stepdaughter wanted to do was sleep so I suggested perhaps she would feel more comfortable and settled back at home with her mummy. I didn’t want her to fall to sleep here and then have to wake her so her daddy could take her home. Perhaps it was for the best he cut short his daughters visit and take her home. He telephoned his ex wife to inform her of his decision but she was not at home. Instead my husband spoke to her partner who informed him her partner she had been out for the day and wasn‘t due back anytime soon. With that my husband informed him that either way he would be bringing his daughter back because he genuinely believed the best place for her was with her mum. Once he arrived at his ex wife’s house, her partner answered the door with a paintbrush in his hand. “I don’t know what I’m expected to do with her until her mum gets home.”
“Make her feel more comfortable would be a start.”
What is suddenly becoming clear is my husband’s ex wife had plans of her own this particular Sunday, and by having to look after her daughter because she was poorly, meant having to cancel them, so instead, she relied on her ex husband, after all it is his designated weekend with his daughter isn’t it? Convenient babysitter springs to mind but it is not a term I like to use, after all, my husband has a child and he will always be a daddy before he is a babysitter. But due to the erratic weekend arrangements concerning my stepdaughter, I cannot help but feel my husband has been used. I know for some working parents, they are forced into an impossible decision between working or looking after sick children but surly a child’s health takes precedence over a job?
I am fortunate and thankful I don’t have these decisions to make. If my child is ill, I am immediately on hand to care for them. I am not forced into arduous choices. But then we are dealing with a woman who sends her daughter back to nursery, a week after she has been discharged from hospital with pneumonia. Perhaps my views are biased.
Our daughters first birthday falls on Mothering Sunday this weekend and once again, I don’t want my stepdaughter to visit. Mothering Sunday is a time when children pay respect to their mothers, a day for giving thanks for all the things our mothers do for us.
I am trying to convince myself that s I am not my stepdaughter’s mother, she should spend the day with her own mum, it’s only right. I cannot put my feelings to one side to accommodate my stepdaughter’s feelings and think how she will feel missing her siblings first birthday, but it is a very special event that I wish to remember fondly and not how my stepdaughter has ruined it because she chooses to ignore me once again. She knows it’s my daughters first birthday even though we haven’t mentioned any particular plans, my stepdaughter has asked what are we arranging. I’m sure her mother has passed comment as my daughter shares the same birth date of a very dear friend of my husband and his ex. In fact when our daughter was born, my husband telephoned his friend to inform him of our news and my husband distinctly heard his ex wife in the background. She and her daughter had dropped in and given him a card. Yes I feel incredibly guilty for not wanting her with us, but with the absence of my own son on mother’s day, it is hard enough for me to cope without him so once again I feel sad for my husband and his ability to put my feelings first. I am certainly living up to the part of the wicked stepmother!
I am tired of always thinking that I must do the best for my stepdaughter., but as an adult, it is my job, otherwise she will grow up with issues and problems! I know children are resilient and often come through bumps and scrapes (with the right guidance) and I always try to do the best for my children which automatically includes my stepdaughter. But having to accept the responsibility that if my children are constantly exposed to battling parents, then they will be affected and take their own emotional scars through to their adult life.
It seems so unfair that my husband ignores her behaviour deeming it acceptable for my stepdaughter to ignore, shout and abuse me because she is a child but what about consideration for my feelings as a human being, a person, her stepmother? What about my feelings? Why should I allow her to treat me the way she does and say or do nothing, just to make sure she has a stable upbringing? She is not my child and I am
not responsible for her, her mother has made that perfectly clear.
This is why I feel my behaviour towards my stepdaughter is not just an excuse and I know that this may seem unkind and unfair, but I need to concentrate on my husband, my children and myself. If my husbands daughter refuses to be part of this family because she is merely visiting daddy or is influenced by other people or perhaps she really is a rude child that has no respect for me, which deep down I refuse to believe, then I will not suffer. I am not responsible for her unhappiness. She and anyone that fills her head with rubbish brought on by their own insecurities are the responsible ones. I can live with that. (I hope!)