Moving from my husband’s house was always a priority. We wanted a home for us both. Not because living in his and his ex wife's house ever bothered me, she had never added a feminine touch to it, but with three children between us at the time, we needed something bigger to accommodate our growing family. My daughter and step daughter picked their bedrooms and we were lucky to have a fourth room to use as a study.
Shortly after I fell pregnant and it was a relief to know that room was not going to be an issue. We had the extra room, albeit the designated study, but it was slightly smaller than the other bedrooms so, after great deliberation, we decided that we had to prioritise the people that were in our home seven days of the week. The decision is the new baby will use the bedroom that is currently used by my stepdaughter. She will then move to the designated study, after all, my stepdaughter is only here one night a week and we didn't think it was fair that the bigger room was used as a permanent bedroom for someone to use it for such a small amount time.
Even though my stepdaughter is now sleeping in the smaller study room, on the days she is here, I set it up as her bedroom. I place fluffy cushions on her bed she has a trendy rug on the floor, pink bedding a box full of toys and a few pictures of her with her daddy on a bedside cabinet. These items are easily packed away and returned to its study/spare room state as my son uses it when he visits. Again I change bedcovers to suit him and scatter pictures around the room of him on his bike. I often bring out little mementoes he had in his old bedroom. It gives me nice memories.
My stepdaughter has her own space and is still surrounded by her familiar things and she is unaware that everything is tidied away after she has left, after all, she is returning home where she has a bedroom all of the time. She will arrive the following week with a bedroom exactly as she had left it the previous week. We did hear along the family grape vine, as they had decided amongst themselves, it was thought to be very unfair that my stepdaughter had lost her bedroom to make way for the arrival of the baby. She hasn't lost anything. We sat her down and explained exactly what and why it was happening.
In our three-story home, our bedroom and the study/stepdaughter's room are both on the middle floor, which she thought would be an absolute hoot not only to be close to daddy but she gets to share his en suite too! She seems perfectly happy with the arrangement, what business is it of anyone else what the sleeping arrangements are in our own home? We later discover that grandma, my husbands estranged mother, has set up her own spare room for my stepdaughter so she has a room there also. I do wonder what a waste that must be. She only sees her granddaughter a few times a year. What a waste of a room, but then who am I to comment? Is this another dig in our direction?
When my stepdaughter is not here, I feel so sorry for her. The constant back and forth between school and different after school carers. We can provide her with stability if her mother would allow it, but this has been my stepdaughter's routine for so long I suppose she doesn’t really know any different. The last thing we would want to do is upset her routine, but we wish we could share a bigger part of her life rather than negotiating before and after school care.
I don’t like her when she is here however. Not because of her as a child, but how she makes me feel and how my home seems to be completely turned upside down to accommodate her on her arrival. I have never in my entire life ever felt this way toward a child, any child because no child I have encountered has ever made me feel useless and that I have a problem. I am beginning to question my self worth all of the time. There are times when I wish it could just be myself, my husband and my children without my step daughter, but I came into this relationship knowing he has a child and it has never been my intention to take her daddy away from her. Never.
I did mistakenly assume things would be rosy and I could parent my stepdaughter. It has been a rather large bump landing back on earth again! My thoughts of sometimes wishing she didn't exist is are not brought about from any insensitive characteristics I may have, I truly yearn for a happy stress free life following a disastrous previous marriage. It is the problem free thoughts, apart from our own annoying little habits, not the thought of having her absent from my life. She was here before I was.
August 3rd 2005
It’s so hard for me coping with my emotions regarding my son, so the added upset with your daughter is getting too much for me, and when things are in full swing, I miss him even more and long for it to be my children and I again. No worries to deal with, just us being happy. I’d like to think I have taken your criticisms of my son on the chin, I just wish you could do the same regarding your daughter, but your pain and guilt get the better of you.
Its only Wednesday and I’m beginning to feel sick about your daughter coming. I really thought we’d turned a corner but it looks like we’re back to how it was. I love you more than words can say, you are my life and the best thing that has happened to me, but I sometimes feel the cracks are starting to show. Your daughter is, and always will be, a closed topic!!
You tell me you love me all the time. You have been to the doctors and the diagnosis, you feel, may have been brought on by being run down. What with work and the problems.
You ask me if I’m happy. I am yes, but I feel that we haven’t had too many good times lately to compensate all the shit that comes our way.
Why do you not see my troubles with your daughter as an issue? I think you just ignore them and hope they go away. Well I don’t think they will.
September 12th 2005
We spoke in length about your daughter and how she makes me feel. You were really good and understanding, even when I told you I didn't want to be here anymore.
The weekend went ok. I had a small incident where she opened her door, then closed it quickly when she saw me. She was going to a fancy dress party so I got her dressed up. She was fine with me whilst doing this. You commented how well the weekend went. I hope this doesn't mean that everything that has been said can now be brushed under the carpet. I still don't know if I can cope with the times when she does come and ignores me. Those are more frequent than the nice times.
I do try to put things into perspective and imagine how my stepdaughter is feeling. It must be terrible having to adjust and then be expected to without fuss or drama. One minute having two parent figures to nurture and teach her right from wrong and then the next, four. Two of them, her parents and the other two that aren't, but who will have a completely different way of raising and parenting all together. One set of rules at mummy's and another at daddy's. The kindest approach would for her to be at one parent all of the time so at least she will have some stability in her life without the constant weekend upheaval, but then this is the only solution for her to see both of her parents at some point in the week.
This is why the whole stepfamily/blended family situation makes me so sad and angry, yet I have subjected my own children to the same disruption. My stepdaughter is not experiencing a normal family life much like my own children now. My own daughter sees little of her father. He is a workaholic and, in my opinion, his children have to fit in around him. As a mother, I know I am expected to alter my lifestyle to accommodate my children until they no longer dependants. Nevertheless, I do feel my daughter is in a stable environment. She has my husband and myself seven days a week. She knows her boundaries so can be relaxed and herself. She doesn't have to experience packing an overnight bag every week or having some things at our house and some things at her fathers but this doesn't mean she doesn't miss her daddy.
At least my husbands daughter has a bedroom here, her own space and personal effects something my own daughter does not have at her fathers. My daughter knows this is her home, a place she feels safe and comfortable in. Her father’s house is not her home. How can it be? She spends so little time there.
I find the whole stepmother thing very hard to deal with. This is all new to me too, having my children following my example and then my husband’s child doing something completely different. She is always at the forefront of my thoughts. My own children, sometimes left out because they seem adjusted to their new family way of life, but there are many times that I feel I am also forgotten ,simply because I am an adult who is expected to cope with ever changing situations. As a wife and mother, I should know what motherly tasks are expected of me and how to put them into practice. I should know how to be a parent, I am a mother so should know what I am doing. I have been expected to adjust to this; my husband however has little to adjust too, although I am sure he would disagree. He continues to go to work, come home, eat his meal and the children have been fed bathed and put to bed. It seems he is taking on the position that of his previous marriage. Man goes to work, has little interaction with the children, man goes to bed. I sometimes ask myself if my husband thinks I am to blame in some way for his daughter’s behaviour. After all, when it was he, his ex wife and their daughter, things were ok; their daughter was a happy contented child who rarely misbehaved. Now she has become rude and arrogant therefore the problem must be me and definitely not his daughter because she continues to put on her charade when in the company of daddy.
It is hard for my husband, after every weekend, to hear me nit-picking how bad the weekend has been.
There is nothing he can do and all he hears is constant complaining from me about his daughter and how badly I am being treated. It is true, that because I am already a mother, I should be able to contend with anything but before, when it was my ex husband and our children, I knew my role, I was in a familiar situation subsequently after my divorce and entering a new relationship, I thought I could continue where I left off and fit straight in to my new role, and this hasn't happened. When I instruct my own children to do something, it is done, hopefully without question, but my step daughter looks at my husband as if, " do I have to do what she says?" As I see it, it is not only my stepdaughter and my own children who have had to adjust, but myself also. I have to deal with and cope with a situation that is completely alien and unfamiliar to me.