Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Caught him with his pants down. Figuratively.

So. . . my d-i-l and I have a really nice relationship. She's easier to be around than the step-daughter I've parented for 13 years. Why? Part of it is because we are very similar. (How scary for my oldest ss that he married his stepmom?!?) and the other part is because I don't think we have all the baggage that comes with parenting some one else's children.

The other day, she told me that she and my husband had had an awkward conversation where he told her, "You know, you've called me 'Dad' a few times and. . . actually I'd really like it if you called me Dad." Poor Little Red had no choice to reply anything but, "Um, okay." Not that she has anything against calling him dad, I don't think. It's just something that will either evolve or not and to be put on the spot, or for him to actually have the guts to say that (my shy, non-confrontational hubby!) is a bit awkward.

Of course, if you've read my last post you know how I've been feeling about my step-kids. (For the record, Little Red's husband is my favorite. There. I've said it. I have a favorite step-child! Take that and skewer me with it, world!) Anyway -- how I've been feeling about SOME of my step-kids. And so my brain went into hurt mode and I asked her something like, "And what about me? I'm just {{insert name here}}?" Poor Little Red, deer-in-headlights is the best way to describe the look. Wasn't mad at her for telling me. Felt bad that she was the one who got to step in it.

So I asked hubby, casually, "Well, L.R. told me you asked her to call you Dad?"

Hubby: "Yeah."

Me: "And what did you ask her to call me?"

Hubby: "Uhhhhhhhh. . . . {{crickets}}"

Me: "Exactly."

But, in the end it was a good thing. I realized that it didn't really matter to me what my daughter-in-law called me -- I had actually never, ever contemplated that she would give me a different title and not use my name. I'm so used to it being, "Dad and {{insert name here}}." I was irked at his clumsiness -- but I think he's finally getting the picture and beginning to understand the feelings that have developed over the last 13 years.

The thing isn't that my step-kids haven't been respectful. To my face, at least. But I thought, imagined, that when they were adults, they would break the twisted bonds with their bio-mom and we would have a free-er, closer relationship. A friendship or something. And that they would appreciate me. It hasn't happened. In fact, since they've become legal adults, with 2 out of 3 it's gotten worse. Their attitude toward me, especially when they're not here and I'm not giving them some sort of handout, has gotten a lot worse.

So I've decided -- they're old enough to decide what kind of relationship they want with me and they've decided. To them, in spite of every single fricken' thing I've done for them, the messes I've cleaned up for their mom so they could have some sort of relationship with her, I am just their dad's wife. Not a parent. Not a parent-figure. Just the woman their dad happened to marry. Which means, for me, I have no obligation to them other than to be their dad's wife. And, frankly, I'm damn good at that. Birthday presents? Christmas? Weddings? That will now be their dad's thing. I will not have a single thing to do with the planning or purchasing of anything for special days. I did, exclusively, for 13 years. I'm done. They need money or help with something? Talk to your dad, who will remember that they're adults. And that they only come over or call when they want something. Weddings? Dad might throw in a little money as appropriate, but no way am I busting my ass to help in any way like I did for the oldest and L.R. who both appreciated the hell out of it. Nope. I'll spend their wedding day at the spa (maybe with Little Red!! haha!) getting gorgeous and attend as their dad's guest and the mother of some of the wedding party. I will be kind and cordial. But in the end? They just happen to be the adult children of the man I married. And I owe them nothing.

Strangely, this has been extremely freeing. Even everything else that's been weighing me down seems much easier to deal with. Or ignore, whatever. And while this makes my husband a little sad (mostly for me, that his kids have turned out like this toward me after 13 years) he understands. He knows everything I've done for them, the sacrifices I've made for them AND for their mom. Even our children have made sacrifices for his children and PEW. Considering we have five children of our own, he agrees we've done all we can or should for his older children.

Who would've thought that separating oneself from children one has raised for 13 years would be this easy and pain-free? Maybe it's true what everyone said, I won't love them as much as I love my own. Maybe it's because I wasn't allowed to. But I did love them the best that I could.


  1. This post doesn't give me much hope for future relationships with my teen stepkids. But at least you can be thankful for the one good relationship with stepson and d-i-l. It's great that you have such a closeness with her.

    I don't blame you for not wanting to do nice things for the ungrateful ones. I'd probably do the same.

  2. I just realized the "P" stands for "psycho". Lol. I am quick.