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New Here - No Kids of My Own, 2 adult SDs

Hikinggal's picture

Hi! I have been reading your message board for a couple weeks off and on. I guess I feel lucky because I don't really have "issues" per se, but still find it's good to know I am not alone with some of the things I go through or feel when it comes to being a step mom to two adult daughters. I have been surprised about the things/feelings that have popped up for me as I traverse this new territory.

Our situation:
I was married 15 years to a man who changed his mind about having kids mid-way through our marriage, thus I have no kids of my own but always wanted them. When I finally walked out of a deep, zombie-like depression I left his ass and made a life for myself. I did a lot of hiking/camping by myself (not to copy Cheryl Strayed in "WILD" but that stuff works, it does, and I recommend it to any woman.. get lost in the woods to find yourself). Anyway, I am 43 - once I hit 40 I told myself that this is my fate and I am at peace with it. Many have told me I "could" have kids (including my now-husband) but I don't want them this late in the game of life. I am at peace with the fact I am child-free.

I married my husband 1 1/2 years ago, been together for 3. He was married 17 years, divorced for 9 when we met (I had been divorced for three years when we met). He had a long-term girlfriend before me for 3 years who his daughters made clear to me in no uncertain terms they would still remain friends with. (fine, whatever) They remain "besties" on Facebook but as far as I know haven't met up with her in real life once. His daughters are 26 and 22. Both got married in a double wedding last summer (ask me how "fun" that was, God what a long day - glad they both got the deed done in one shot, though!). The 26 year old has three kids (ages 6, 2 and newborn) and the 22 year old is pregnant with her first boy.

I know I can't complain. I know many have real issues here. I am actually pretty freaking lucky as I have a good relationship with his girls (as good as it can get, maybe, being I entered the scene so late?). But that good relationship with them doesn't come "easy" and I am sure you all can relate to that.

Biting my tongue? ALLLLLLLLLLL the time.

I am also lucky because my husband is amazing. He makes it clear we are a team (he and I). He loves his daughters but they lost a lot of their closeness after the divorce and dad moved far away because he couldn't deal living in the same town as his ex and best-friend (who she left DH for). It's a choice he regrets because of the toll it took on his relationship with his daughters, but at the time, it's the choice he made to protect himself. Parents sometimes make choices they don't love. He has worked at rebuilding the relationship with his daughters but they are adults now and make their own choices. They will always be closest to mom. She's no saint, if I can just add that -- please?? Thanks. Smile My husband has never said one bad word about her to his kids NOR has he defended himself to them or his family. Thus, everyone loves and adores her still. He just says to me "truth comes out eventually." And it has in bits and pieces. A few months ago his eldest questioned when his best friend started seeing her mom. I left the room at that time, as I always do when conversations go towards the ex with the SDs. Not my business. I heard from my husband that the girls knew she cheated on him with his friend all along - his ex STILL stands by her lie, "Oh, we didn't get together until a year after." *eye roll*

Not that I care - I mean, I am HAPPY she did that -- I get to be with the love of my life now. But it irritates me that she is so adored by everyone and still SO VERY MUCH in the picture of our lives because of that. It was just a few weeks ago my MIL removed the family picture that his ex was in off her fridge and put up ours from our wedding day. I swear, I did a silent cheer when I saw that! lol I know, that's probably petty of me. But I HATED seeing her mug at my MIL's, prominent there on the fridge, my DH's arm around her... ugh, I hated that. About time it goes into deep storage to collect dust where it belongs.

So, my goal is to have a good relationship with his daughters. I think of that goal/intention before I do/say anything which means a lot of the time I can't really fully be myself AND I have to work through why I feel something before I react in a way that could be negative. If that makes sense? They love mom. The grandkids love "nana" - I get to hear about her every time they come over. She will call if the kids are celebrating with us to wish everyone a happy "whatever" (last time it was Thanksgiving we got them on the actual holiday). I was annoyed -- she "Facetimed" her daughter so it was like she was literally THERE on OUR holiday, in OUR house. Oh, could I feel an attitude boiling deep within me... I almost let it out, but nope... I took deep breaths, (lots of them), and slapped on the smile.

Shut up and smile. The mantra of a Stepmom?? The mantra of "dad's wife?"

Anyway---- it is getting easier with time, so I hold out hope it will just get easier and easier. It feels good to know there is a place I can vent real feelings if they come up, though... because my tongue gets pretty raw and sore from biting it!! Thanks!! Smile

Rags's picture

Usually I am a proponent of confronting inappropriate behavior, share the facts... all of the facts... and get the truth in front of the kids in an age appropriate manner.

However, your situation is one where my usual perspective may not be the right one. You are navigating this well, you and your DH are partners, you have a reasonably good relationship with the adult SDs, they know that their BM is an adulterous whore, so broadcasting the facts may no longer be the right move.

You know the truth though, so does DH, and if necessary the two of you can play those cards.

Take care of you... take care of each other.

Hikinggal's picture

Aw. Thanks. Trying our best and I do feel lucky because my husband does have my back - not just in words but in his actions. He has always made me feel like HIS WIFE at joint gatherings and he has said no to his daughters if something interfered with us and our plans. Actually, I am the one that had to learn to talk to him before volunteering us and/or our home for his kids. That was an eye-opener for me, but yes, makes sense. We are a team and decisions should be formed together if we babysit the grands or have the kids over. We always discuss things now.

My favorite "having my back" moment was when his brother-in-law sloppily introduced me to a family member at the wedding last summer as DH's "second wife." Without hesitation my DH replied, "I am not a polygamist, this is my one and ONLY wife here..." Oh man, he got lucky that night!! lol Everyone kind of laughed politely and I just squeezed his hand so tightly, so in love with him for that comment. His BIL says he will never call me second again. lol

Anyway -- just stuff no one thinks about until you go through it!

sandye21's picture

BM calls your house to wish everyone a happy 'whatever'? Why? The SDs are adults now. There is no reason for her to call your house. I can understand that you do not want to 'cause trouble' by complaining when she calls but it needs to stop - now. Along with any extended conversations about BM. She may still be part of SD's lives but she should not part of your marriage. Do not leave the room. Calmly switch the conversation to another topic. If they continue to bring up BM you will know this is a manipulative act to alienate you. Have you brought this up to DH? If not, he needs to know - and possibly have a conversation with the SDs about inappropriate and disrespectful conversation in your home.

You cannot sit there smiling when all of this is occurring. It may take a bit of time but eventually you are going to explode. Why wait for that? Nip it in the bud now.

If DH fails to support you in this, you will have to take action. Every time they bring up BM, talk about your life before your marriage to DH and make it as boring and as long as possible. If they bring up what is happening in BM's present life, think of the most boring thing that is happening in yours but make sure it is something that can not be held against you later on. If DH complains later tell him you were only sharing old memories like they are. Have one of your friends skype you in the middle of dinner and make a big deal out of it. Then bore them some more, telling them how close you are to your friend. I know they say to turn the other cheek but with skids it just doesn't work.

Hikinggal's picture


I honestly didn't know if I was "allowed" to be pissed she Facetimed us on Thanksgiving or not. I felt my blood pressure start to boil, and I was really angry about it, honestly. But, like I said, I breathed it out, calmed down, focused on celebrating with others and just wait for that conversation to end.

The BM was obviously buzzed, with friends (she drinks A LOT - every celebration she has a drink in her hand, even if it's 11 am, whatever...). Anyway -- so I am sure they did it out of something negative. The 6 year old granddaughter talked to her for a second but all she said was, "Nana, I am at (my name)'s house!!!" I heard "nana" say unenthusiastically, "oh.. I see." lol Definitely heard something in that response of hers. That's all the 6 year old had to say to her and the 2 year old wouldn't stop playing long enough to look at the phone. I had just gotten them a cool race car set that glowed in the dark and they were having fun with that.

Anyway -- it's not "major" stuff - just... annoying, but I will keep my eyes open and say something when it's warranted.

jam's picture

I did the grin and bear it method the entire time the kids were minors. The skids bm would call when we had the kids for what ever reason. In my opinion the bm was forcing her presence in my home and in our time together. The skids were at bm's the majority of the time and really there was no reason for her to call. She would just use the kids as her excuse to invade our time and to get information about us.

I agree with others on here. Nip it in the buttocks ASAP!

Hikinggal's picture

Hmmm.... You gals gave me a lot to think about.

I guess we have so much societal pressure to be "friends with exes for the sake of the family unit, sake of the kids." We get "pats on the back" when we can all hang out, amicably for the sake of the kids, right? Even adult kids? But can we be honest? Boundaries are okay. It's NOT enjoyable and life is short. At what point do adult SKs wake up to this reality?

His kids pull us together multiple times a year. Some things are unavoidable and I get it: Weddings, showers, births of babies, college graduation. Now, it will be birthdays of grandkids (we will have at least 4 a year, 5 if youngest has 2 kids eventually). THat's FIVE TIMES A YEAR AT MINIMUM we 'get to' party with the ex. THEN his 22 year old daughter likes to to invite us and her mom and her man out for dinner for her birthday. I mean, really? I have been to three of these dinners and they are not "fun" by any mean. It's fake banter, fake conversations, open your gifts, let's get this night over with.

I don't know. DH says next year we are going to be "busy" for that birthday dinner celebration and catch her another time. I am thankful he wants to do that.

ESMOD's picture

It sounds like overall you have a decent relationship with the kids and that your DH is supportive.

I think you DH should step in when things get too intrusive too.

1. Extended conversations about BM should have the subject changed.
2. BM calls during a family celebration? If it is in the middle of the meal, kids tell her they will call her after dinner. They can do this from another room in the house. It's rude to basically talk on the phone when you are being entertained.
3. Both parents present for birthday dinners for adults? UM NO.. honey, you know your parents are divorced. think of it this way.. you can have TWO birthday dinners if you play your cards right.

As far as the other events.. make them quick and to the point and get the heck

ldvilen's picture

Hey, Shut up and Smile! That's the title of a new book:

And, I bet Super Models (SMs too!) and Step Moms have a lot in common as far as having to pretend and wear a certain look and present an acceptable persona to society, ala Stepford Wives. All the while, who knows what is really going on in the background? We both have to SUCK IT UP AND TAKE IT!

Hikinggal's picture

Your signature quote cracks me up having just gone through a huge double wedding of both SDs last summer. A FRIEND OF MINE actually told me, "Your role at the wedding is to blend in and let the Mother of the Bride shine." OMG. I was like WHAT????? Are you serious??? Well, I self-sabotaged myself from nerves, gained 20 pounds before the big day and felt like crap all day long, so MOB got to SHINE. She is in a million pictures, I am literally in one. Luckily my DH and her were not asked to pose together. (I was thankful for that one)

I lost the weight and then some now so I feel good about myself again and I won't allow myself to play small again. I get to exist. I am married to the girls' dad. Smile When Grandbaby was born I did what I do -- take pictures. I took a TON of pictures and emailed them to SD. She then put them on Facebook and tagged us. She also included the ones of me and my DH holding the baby. She told my DH that her mom was mad at her for not getting pictures of her mom with the baby and her man, but here's the thing, SD was recovering from a C-section. I wanted pictures, I made sure they happened. Her mom is passive aggressive and always the victim. If you want pictures, make them happen. But, there again ... I am likely being judged as "doing too much" when I was just being myself. I love photography and a newborn meeting the family is FULL of photogenic moments. I jumped in. BM wasn't there when we were there but I would have included her in the pictures if she was. At least one anyway. lol

Sorry, got sidetracked. Man it feels good to talk openly about these little annoyances.

Disillusioned's picture

Stay above it, BM is insecure about you and this is why she is intruding on your time - you are correct that she's "marking her territory"

Remember that and feel pride that you don't need to resort to that sort of behaviour - you are not the insecure one!

My SD's BM tries this silliness in our situation on FIL's birthday for example when everyone is gathered together and he's opening gifts, there will be one there for him from BM too (don't even get me in to all the family get together's she intruded on in the last couple years, which has thankfully died down!)

Simply BM's way of trying to 'keep you in your place' because she can't let go, and obviously is jealous and insecure about you, and your role - one she is no longer in

When BM would send birthday gifts for FIL at the get togethers for him that DH's family were holding, I just reminded myself that while she could send all the gifts she wanted for it, I was the one there with FIL - not her...and I'm also the one FIL seems to prefer to be there too. All her sorry attempts to 'remind' me of her presence, only remind me that she's the one that lost here, not me

Don't let BM bother you - you are the clear winner (not that it's a competition) and the one on top - not her. That's why she resorts to acting that way, and you don't need to!

still learning's picture

My steps also made it clear that they were still *best friends* w/DH's ex gf that he dated 3 yrs before we married. I didn't care until I was on Facebook and they "liked" literally everything she posted and never once liked a thing I posted. I blocked ex gf because I didn't want to see her in my news feed through the steps. I don't have FakeBook anymore so it's no longer an issue but way to send a not so subtle passive aggressive message.

About the Facetiming, have DH tell his daughters to facetime mom in another room with the door shut so her call isn't disturbed.