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Where to begin…

StressedMama's picture

This is my first post and I’m not sure where to begin. I guess by first saying that having now read through others posts, it feels so much better knowing I’m not alone in this. Stepmotherhood is hard! 


I have a SD who is 5 and a BD who is 6 months. My DF and I have been together for two years and living together for a year and a half. We have SD with us every F-M. 


When we first were together I had the naïve dream that I could be a mom to SD. That we could become this seamlessly blended family. I tried. I cried to DF about wanting it. Fast forward two years later and I wish I didn’t have to know SD anymore. I dread her coming, I’m stressed the entire time she’s here.


I know there are many factors at play, first having a new “ours” baby. My love for her came immediately and is boundless, it is so different from how I’ve ever felt about SD and I realize I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever feel that way for her. I also want to be able to put BD first and SD takes away my ability to do that. Everything from SD being so loud when I’m trying to give BD a nap (and then complaining about how needy the baby is— duh, she’s exhausted!) to playing with the baby toys when I’d like to keep them new for baby. 


I often have to care for both children as my DF has two jobs. He isn’t often away for more than four hours at a time, but it’s frequently more than once a weekend. It stresses me out trying to care for both and when it’s in the evening, for instance, I can’t do baby’s bedtime when she’s ready for bed, I have to wait until SD is in bed because SD will not give me a moment to myself to do anything. 


And then, of course, SD just drives me crazy. She has such an attitude, is argumentative, and is so needy. I understand that she’s 5, but come on. She needs constant attention. She cries because she wants someone to hang out with her in the bathroom when she bathes, she wants someone in the room with always, always listening and responding to her incessant talking, watching everything she does, helping her with things she’s proven capable of. She’s definitely a center of attention child, and I’m more of an introvert which makes a difficult clash. And that attitude and arguing is so much like her BM, I can’t stand it. She puts her BM on such a pedestal because BM doesn’t really parent and just gives her everything she wants. DF tends to cave because of guilt, leaving me to be the evil SM because I don’t let her have her way all the time. It makes me feel like the worst. I have this innate repulsion of her at this point that I don’t find anything she does to be cute and have an immediate repulsion anytime she shows me affection or even touches me or the baby. 


Oh goodness, SD is also a mini wife. Barf. And butts in when DF tries to give me any affection. Between her BM’s personality and being wifey to DF, it feels like I’m living with DF’s ex. It’s like I’m forced to witness his former married life, and I hate it. 


Okay, so this is clearly mostly venting, but I also don’t know what to do. DF is generally such a good dad and partner. More indulgent with SD than I feel is needed, but I also realize I don’t love her so I’m not inclined to be indulgent at all. But I just can’t stand when she’s here, and can’t stand taking care of both kids all the time (but he needs to work, that’s not an option). I feel like I should talk to him but I don’t want him to feel like it’s an attack on SD because then he just gets defensive and conversation is ineffective. Ugh.


redhairedsm's picture


To Quote:  Between her BM’s personality and being wifey to DF, it feels like I’m living with DF’s ex. It’s like I’m forced to witness his former married life, and I hate it. 

Don't watch her. I know it sounds mean but you don't like her and it's not your responsiblity.


Just deal with it.  Sadly at 5 if she reminds you of her BM it's going to be a life time of H#LL.


tog redux's picture

If the father can't watch her, she should be with her mother.  Why would it be otherwise? He can pick her up after work and drop her off at BM's in the morning if he wants her overnight.

You are not her babysitter, and you don't like her, so why is she even there when your BF is not there?


STaround's picture

She says her BF is working two jobs.  This is a very tough situation, if he works more to support household, should she be expected to help care for his older DD?  If not, maybe she should be looking for a job

tog redux's picture

No, his child is not her responsibility, period. I know you are fond of saying women should do child care to make up for the money their husband is paying, but SD is not her responsibility in any way, shape or form.

How she supports their baby is between them.

StressedMama's picture

Yes, I do think I need to be responsible for her less. I absolutely understand and am okay with the times where DF has to leave a couple hours before SD’s bedtime so I pretty much put a movie on for her and tuck her in. But anything more than that and I get overwhelmed with dread. 


The problem is is that I don’t know how to talk to him about it. I don’t want to have it turn into a conversation about why I don’t like SD because that would just hurt him. And after I was insistent for so long in the beginning about wanting to be a mother to her, it’s hard to backtrack. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

I would just sit him down and tell him you need to have an important conversation with him, and you really need him to listen to you. Start out by saying that you care about SD, but you simply cannot handle caring for both her and DD at the same time so much. You cannot do it. You feel overwhelmed and it is starting to affect your mental health. You fear you will start to be resentful to him and SD and you really don't want that. SD doesn't see you as her mom, so the dynamic is more difficult. Tell him you think it's best if alternate accomodations are made for SD when he is gone longer than a few hours. Honestly, lay it all out there because the alternative is to continue as you are, and I know I couldn't do it. Can you handle this continuing forever? Why should it? It's a very difficult thing he's asking of you- too difficult. There's no shame in admitting that. What good are you to your family if you are mentally exhausted and resentful? You need to take care of yourself because no one else will.

StressedMama's picture

Thank you, this is helpful. I realize I ranted about SD a bunch (probably because she’s been exhausting me all weekend), but really I was trying to find help about how to talk about it with my SO. Thanks for figuring out what I was looking for and providing a thoughtful answer. I appreciate it. 

ESMOD's picture

Your SD doesn't sound really all that different than a lot of 5 year olds.  I know it must be hard because a baby is demanding as well..   You mention that she wants you with her when she takes a bath.  Honestly, from most of what I read.. kids should be supervised in their baths.. until they are a little older than your SK.. maybe 6-7 earliest.  It's a safety issue.  She may be used to this level of attention from her mom through the week.. so she expects it from you.  Also.. kids do get jealous of younger siblings.  they want that attention.. so they will sometimes do things that will get it.

If you have toys that you want just for the baby.. you need to put them where SD can't access them.  In a high cabinet.. bring them out for the baby then put them away.

Also..I'm assuming that your BF needs the 2nd job to cover bills.. I guess paying for childcare would be out of the question.. so maybe he can adjust his schedule to be there more when his daughter is there.  Maybe even the hours so he is there when you need to do things with the baby instead.  Or.. YOU could get a job that would replace that income and he can stay home more to care for his two kids? 

pickles45's picture

One thing I hope you do is keep being affectionate with your DF in front of her. She needs to learn (and sooner is better then later) that she is NOT his mini wife. As for not liking it when she is there - I wish I had better advice. AllI can suggest is maybe find an activity she need sto go to every weekend - like dance, gym or soemthing. That way youlll at least get a few housrs with her out of the house (if you make your husband take her that is)

ndc's picture

Do you contribute financially to the household?  I think this is important because if your DF is working two jobs so you can stay at home, I can see a reasonable expectation that you'd take care of both children while he's working.  Does he have SD every weekend?  If so, and he's working a good part of that time, it seems reasonable to try to change the custody schedule to EOWE or another time when he's home. Is that a possibility, and would it impact CS?

If none of that is possible, it's on your DF to step up his parenting and put a stop to the mini-wife and other bad behavior.  He needs to understand that your relationship can't progress if you are resentful of SD and eventually him.  There's no need to say you can't stand SD; you can separate her behaviors from her and if your DF is halfway receptive to change he'll understand that.

That said, my SO's oldest is 6 and I don't leave her unsupervised in the bathtub.  Kids that age do require attention, and some of her behavior is perfectly normal for a child of her age. If your DF can step up his parenting, things could improve.

StressedMama's picture

I work from home as a bookkeeper and am looking for additional work. I’ve been a nanny for about eight years, but it’s harder to find a family that is willing to hire a nanny with an infant in tow. I recognize with him that he works more, and we are dependent on his income. I appreciate what he does for our family and try to make his life outside of work easy as he’s pretty exhausted most of the time. 


I also realize some some of my complaints are just “5 year old” problems. But when it’s not my five year old, they become more glaring issues. Really it’s the backtalk/attitude/arguing that get to me the most, and having been a nanny for so long, I know that’s not every child. It’s because she gets her way at her BM’s when she argues, and her BM finds her sassy mouth funny. 


But  really I’m looking for advice on how to talk to my partner about reducing my responsibility for his daughter without offending him. I understand being protective of your offspring and getting unreasonably defensive when there’s even a hint of criticism against them. He’s a papa bear as much as I’m a mama bear. 

Wilhelm's picture

I used to find when my children were young that if I sat and played with them for about 15 minutes they would then happily play on their own. Maybe a toy that is soecial to them and not the baby.