Just need to vent. I hope that's okay.
All my life, I've always kind of had this image of myself. Well... of who I wanted to be. A good person. An attractive person. A kind, loving person. Graceful, inspirational. And there was a short time in my life where I think I was just about that person. But, becoming a wife and stepmother has forever shattered that "dream me". I know what I am now. What I'm capable of, and what I'm not.
Like many stepmoms, I went into this marriage with dewey eyes and rose colored lenses. I was going to love this little girl like my own, and I was going to be the best wife and mother in this world, and we were all going to live happily ever after. I wrote this beautiful vow to my stepdaughter. I gave it to the preacher, but he didn't read it like I asked him to. I guess that's what happens when you pay $250 for a gazebo wedding in a tourist town.
Things started out great. She was 4 when we became a part of eachother's lives. And her daddy, I've loved him since we were teenagers. We married each other (at long last) when we were 29 and 30. My stepdaughter absolutely adored me. She was crazy about me. And I adored her. I loved that little spot just above the bridge of her nose. I would kiss it all the time. I loved my life, I loved myself. I was happy.
Then, out of nowhere, my stepdaughter started announcing that I wasn't her mom. We'd be out shopping or something, and if someone was standing near looking at us, she would just blurt out, "she's not my mom!" I assume it was because of something her bio mom said. I don't know. But it hurt, nonetheless. Kind of put me in my place, I guess.
After she turned 5, things started going down hill a bit. She started grabbing/touching my breasts. Off and on for months she did this. I kept telling her to stop, but she would just try to get sneakier next time. Every time I would go to hug her, she would try to cop a feel... until it made me stop initiating hugs. And she would come to hug me and cop a feel. I don't know how I got her to stop, but eventually she did. Then, we were changing in the dressing room together, and she told me I looked really good in my underwear. And when I would be in bed with her reading her her bedtime story, she would be playing with her labia under the covers and keep bringing her hand up to her nose to smell it. Not in a sexual way, just curious, but man it grossed me out...I still loved her, I just didn't really see her the same way after all that.
I really started feeling like a monster for not feeling for her the way I should. Everyone kept telling me that she loved me like a mother. I was (am) expected to love her like my own. And I see other stepmoms loving their stepkids like their own flesh and blood, and feel like absolute trash. I didn't realize how different my love for her was from a mother's love until I had my own child. She is the light of my life. I would do anything for her. There's times when I wish I wasn't around anymore, but I wouldn't miss a moment with her for anything. And I realized that if she had done the same things my step had done, I wouldn't feel any different about her.
In spite of everything, I've been as good to her as I know how. I've been more a part of her life than her father has. I've taught her more about life than her father has. I've planned and hosted all her birthday parties, went to all her school events, helped her with her homework, taken her and her friends on play dates more than I can count, stood up for her. Been her mother in every sense of the word except one. And we've had a lot of fun together. But, it's starting to get harder.
When she was younger, she was super annoying. I don't even quite remember in what way anymore. Very loud and repetitive and obnoxious and painfully awkward. This was her at her worst. Other than that, she was a good kid. The last couple years, though, have gotten worse. There are good days, but more often than not, talking to her is like talking to a robot. She shows no emotion when she's punished or scolded about something. Just says "ok", and goes back to doing the same stuff within a couple weeks. She reads constantly. Before we grounded her from electronics, she was on her phone/tablet constantly. Any time there's a quiet moment, so she won't have to talk to us. Zero interest in being a part of the real world (who could blame her, it sucks, but I kinda thought her family might be a bright spot).
Her daddy and I are on the geeky side. We love having fun. Playing games, going on adventures. We are feminists and pride ourselves in our love and acceptance of people form all walks of life. We thought we'd be great parents for this kid. But, as they say, you are the perfect parent for your younger self. She's adopted this sarcastic, biting and off the wall sense of humor. She says things like "i will eat your children", jokes about being "dead inside"... you know. Crap like that. I thought -I- had a quirky sense of humor. Hers is so bizarre that it's almost impossible to relate to her... not just the violent crap, but just weird uses of terms, and... I can't explain it. Too much YouTube/Memes etc. This sounds like such an old person thing to say, but how she's turning out has really made me despise the internet.
She came out as a lesbian a few months ago. Rather, I found out by invading her privacy (text messages). And we were totally fine with that and happy to support her. But then it also came out that she's non-binary. I'm sure this makes me a horrible person to the LGBTQ community, but the non-binary stuff makes me want to scream. She's not a girl nor is she a boy, she says. Except, she loves glitter and unicorns and stuffed animals and all things cute. And I've taught her to be a proud, strong, eclectic woman - yet she tells me that she does not want to be a woman. She's offended when we call her a "she'. She wants me to call her they/them. Why can't she just be a woman, but be her own kind of woman? It maeks me wonder if I screwed up and confused her by getting her into superheroes and things...
The way she makes herself look drives me crazy, too. She wears huge baggy sweatshirts and t shirts and leggings all the time. That's all she'll wear. She lets her hair hang in her face so that litterally all you can see when you try to talk to her is one eyeball. At least she did - before I stopped taking her to get it cut. Now it's too long to hang in her face without also getting in her way. She refuses to shave her legs, so she won't wear shorts, because she has hairy legs. She refuses to eat better and punishes me every time I take her to the gym with me, but she's embarrassed about her stomach and wears those big baggy clothes to cover it. She says she's ugly all the time and of course won't listen to us when we tell her she's not, but REFUSES to do a thing to make herself look nice. I keep debating about making her practice hair and makeup for the summer, but have to keep reminding myself that she's a "They" now and it might be freaking child abuse if I do!
She's gotten to that age where she thinks everything I say is stupid. Most of the time she responds with a grunt when I'm trying to have a conversation with her. She's sneaky. She's messy. She's lazy. And she's an a-hole to her little sister, my daughter.
I know she has issues from her mom, I know she's been through a lot. And I know she deserves better than me. I love her, but I don't like her very much right now. I hoped that when she got older we'd get closer, but the opposite is happening. School's out now, and she stays shut up in her room all the time. And I get to be the wicked step mom by telling her to come out of her room to do her chores or go to the gym with me, or get off her butt and clean her room, or ground her because she hasn't done what she's asked, and she texts her friends telling them how parents are the worst...
Any idea how much I've given up, and how much I'm giving up to try to ensure you turn out ot be a decent human being, you little shit? To make sure you're safe and your fed and you have a room full of things that bring you joy?
It could definitely be worse. I know that. There's hateful things she could say to me as her stepmom. She could be a super nasty manipulative jerk and pit her father and I against each other. I know.
But this is my reality, and for me, this is hard. Almost every thing she does gets on my last nerve. And I'm a monster for it, and I know I am. And I hate myself, every day I hate myself. For not being better for her/to her. I'm always sad. I don't see myself or my future self the same way any more. I'm almost 40, and I look tired all the time. That glow is gone. My passion is gone. (Oh god... I can now relate to that NIN song I hate so much...)
I wouldn't trade this life for anything, but I will be greedy and wish that I had the option of living another one, too. It's not just her. It's a lot of things. But how much I feel I suck as a stepmom is a huge part of it.
Thanks for reading, if anyone did.