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Need help with my own stepmother and dad...

AlexandraL's picture

My dad and SM are coming to visit my kids and me today. I am not looking forward to it. My dad has been remarried almost 20 years now (my parents were divorced and my mom passed away when I was a teenager). My mom was an alcoholic and had many issues that made it difficult for me to have the kind of relationship a teenage girl needs. After she died, I had no other older female motherly type to go to and essentially navigated my early twenties without any sage female advice. I suppose my childhood and the loss of my mom was a big factor in my getting married at 20 while still in college.

Back when my dad was dating my SM things were great between us. At the time, I was living 1200 miles away with my then H. My H and I moved several times for corporate moves and things continued to be good. My dad and SM would visit us and the four of us would have a fantastic time.

Just before I got divorced my H found a job in my home state, where my dad and SM live. That is when everything changed. My SM was suddenly a lot more distant and superficial with me. This only worsened when I got separated. At the time, I really needed support from my dad and SM and didn't really get much from either of them. As you're probably guessing, things just declined post-divorce.

Both my dad and my SM have been very critical of me, although they really have no reason to be. I've got two degrees, work in a professional field, and have worked my tail off to provide a loving, secure home for my kids. Btw, my SM didn't have even shared custody of her kids and my dad was an EOWE dad until my mom died and he was forced to care for my then 13 yo brother. My kids are high school athletes, A students, and good, kind-hearted kids. I know they think the world of my kids but the message I get from them still is that there is always something lacking on my end...I'm not strict enough, I'm not an OCD clean freak (I'm not a slob), I don't do x,y,z. Whatever!

It is extremely awkward when they visit, and they're coming today. Lately, it has been so uncomfortable that I don't want to visit them with my kids. I talked to my kids yesterday a little about things and my daughter told me that it is different when they're with my dad and SM and I'm not there. Here's what will happen when they visit, as this is always the drill: my dad will give my house, which is actually pretty neat, but not OCD like theirs, and make some sort of comment on what I am not doing and make suggestions/talk down to me. My SM will be all revved up to the point where no one can really talk and I'll feel anxious because of it. She'll talk about superficial shit and drop names of people I don't know and have no idea who they are and I'll try and act like I am interested. My dad will beam, so proud of the social butterfly wife he has. Then we'll eat and that will also be awkward. More empty small talk and they'll include me in the convo but I will feel awkward. Then they'll leave. Sounds fun, huh? I know it is a different set of circumstances with your parents but I think even though it is different we both get the same net effect many times -- feeling awkward, judged. I'm only doing this for my kids, so they can see their grandparents. Btw, my dad isn't like that really when we're alone. I'm dreading Thanksgiving as I am supposed to go there. I want to be there for my dad but I just don't know if I can stomach it this year. Usually my brother shows up and then the rest of the people there are my SM's family. Her kids act like their house is theirs and my brother and I are sort of forced into a corner. It's sad because I lived there for almost 20 years and it doesn't feel like I'm coming "home" -- it feels like I want to get the hell out of there.

Btw, as an aside...I've tried to have more of a relationship with my SM. Because I haven't ever really had any mother-type figure in my life, there has been a huge hole in me. We've tried doing things but we don't have chemistry. Despite this, I do love my SM as she is a good person I think and has been very good to my kids. If she needed me, I would do just about anything for her. This past Mothers' Day I sent her a text message wishing her happy Mothers' Day and told her I loved her. She never replied but sent me an email that night saying she got my text but doesn't text message and hoped I had a nice day.

Does anyone have some advice for me for getting through today. I know it is only one afternoon but I'm getting increasingly worn down by this. Btw, they now live 75 miles away from me because of my move to be with the exbf three years ago...he had his own issues...

Thanks in advance...


AlexandraL's picture

Thanks. It's awkward in the moment but the hard part is really the sadness in not feeling part of a real family, either in my own family of origin, or in my own life, as a single mom/divorced family.

cant win for losin's picture

Im not an english major. Im just a biomom/stepmom average woman with a smart ass sarcastic sense of humor.
I love typos and get the giggles when typos can totally change a sentence. I know you meant "card" but.....
that is awesome they send you a "car" and some flowers, and such! He he he

AlexandraL's picture

I knew I'd get this type of comment. I did not get my SM a present this year because I was unemployed. I am not the best person remembering getting cards either. It's not an excuse but it's not a huge deal to me. I should try and improve on that since it is important to my SM. Looking back, I suppose the text maybe came across as impersonal, but I felt too scared to tell her I love her over the phone. I didn't get a card this year either. She didn't raise me and has not acted like a mother figure to me...she married my dad when I was 24.

I don't do anything at their house and am respectful of it. I never come by unless invited and would never let myself into their house or go through anyone's stuff. The same is not true for my SM's kids. Her own kids, who are all in their 30s and have never lived there, have no problems going through my SM and dad's stuff, going into their house unannounced, etc. It gotten to the point that my dad and SM had to put a key lock on their bedroom door to maintain some sort of privacy.

I HAVE tried. I DO talk but all I get is superficial bullshit. It seems like you want to blame me for my SM's behavior. I can see all sides as I am a BM, my ex is remarried, and I have a stepmom.

Maybe the solution is to just not visit...let my kids go there to visit and see my dad separately as I'm obviously the piece that upsets the whole thing.

sonja's picture

Wow hello. I too struggle with my dad and SM. Im in my 20s now, a SM myself, but still cant stand the relationship I have with my dad/SM.

I often remind myself what Ive been told many times that dad loves me but has no idea how to show me. We too have stupid small talk conversations if any while SM rambles on about whatever. My dad too supports SM and her kids more than he ever took care of us in as highschool aged, and even now, my SMs kids our only 1-3yrs younger than us.

I too grin and bear it whenever I decide that my BS needs to see him and I try not to go to family stuff unless my brother and his family are going as well.

Sometimes people will never figure out how to keep their mouths shut and stop being so opinionated on how you need to live ur life and do your kids.. but youd be the bad guy if you told her to butt out as well. Feel like this is something I cant win and its probably the same for you.

Just know you are doing things your way the best you can, and attempt to enjoy the visit as much as possible.

Disneyfan's picture

Having your kids visit alone may be the answer.

Did your SM or your dad wish you a Happy Mother's Day? A text is better than nothing.

AlexandraL's picture

No, they didn't wish me happy Mothers' Day, not until after I tried to contact my SM and I think I actually tried to call her before texting her.

Disneyfan's picture

In my family we recognize all mothers. I give my mom and sister a card and gift each Mother's Day. We would always send my grandmother a card and flowers. (she passed away this September)

I send all of my aunts cards and call to wish them a happy Mother's Day. I call and text my cousins and friends as well.

I do the same on Father's Day.

I grew up doing this, so to me it's normal. I have never viewed as a day to just recognize my mom, but all moms. It doesn't cost a thing to wish someone a happy Mother's or Father's Day.

AlexandraL's picture

Thank you StepAside, you're right. At least we all care about each other. It's just an afternoon; I'll survive.

AlexandraL's picture

It was ok, I see your point of view Stepdown. I guess the problem is we all have different expectations, skids, BMs, SMs...and sometimes they don't get met but it isn't intentional. I do wish things were different though, for sure. I do think my father does have culpability in the whole thing too...idk, as someone who has worn the hat of SM I think he is right to put his marriage's just hurtful sometimes that he turned a blind eye to things. I certainly have given their relationship and my SM my utmost respect, esp. after my experience as a stepmother myself...I guess that is why it really hurts be made second my a man I adored and then to also have my father yield to his wife at my expense.

I've never made any type of demand...I only just want to see my dad occasionally, as he is my only living parent...that is nothing to be threatened by. My SM overschedules my dad to the point where I can't really see him!

At any rate, I am glad my dad is happy...that is what means the most to me but after the BS with my exbf and his drama and my own experiences there is no way in hell a man will come between me and my kids...just saying!

Btw, it ended up going much better today than expected...

cant win for losin's picture

Im wondering if the "alienating" type feelings, from both ends are due more because of the fact that you didnt grow up around them? From my understanding, you lived with bm states away while you were growing up? (I might be wrong on your history, forgive me) And then for the beginning of your adult years, you and dh lived states away?
I would say if this is true, then i see it as more than the fact that as adults you all dont "know" each other. Everyone feels awkward. And rightfully so. How awkward is that to know as a family member you should know them, but you really dont?