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SD issues and expectations from partner, help!

sm1787's picture

Hi, I'm new to the forum but I've been checking it out on and off for a few months.

I really don't know who to ask for advice, so this seems like the perfect place with so many people who can relate.

I live with my partner, and his daughter, she is 6 and has lived with us for two years. I've been with him for 3.5 years. Complicated background, BM had her taken away from her due to risk of emotional harm, she was sent to live with us suddenly - I hadn't even met her. People at the time told me to make sure I was ok staying in this situation, and I don't think at the time I quite realised what they meant - now I do. It's such a huge responsibility to take on, and at first my partner said I could be as much or as little involved as I liked with her. I guess what he meant was I could (for example) do all of the school runs, bath times, bed times etc, or none, or whatever I wanted inbetween. As time has gone on, it's clear he wants me to do more (although he doesn't openly pressure me all of the time but I always feel its there like the elephant in the room). At first, I did offer to do a lot of school runs, and tried to be as involved as I could / was apporopriate, but then I fell pregnant and the school runs proved too stressful particularly on days she was throwing tantrums and generally acting up before leaving the house, so I stopped, for my own, and my unborn baby's wellbeing.

Fast forward to now, we have our son who is 1, and I am still suffering with the tail end (or what I hope is the tail end) of postpartum depression. My doctor told me it's likely because so much has happened in what is essentially a short relationship. I tend to agree. Not only all of that, but I think the constant conversation of BM or what is happening with BM doesn't help either (complex situation to explain, but she see's SD periodically as supervised by social care). Also, SD can be sweet, but she can also be a royal pain in the **** and most of those times, I just do not want to deal with her.

At first, I really thought we were on the same page with parenting. We spoke about how important it was not to undermine each other in front of children and to talk in private if we disagree. As time is going on, I know he is also feeling pressure, but I feel he is constantly undermining me, even if only in a small way, huffing about what I may have said, or making out I'm acting irrational when I'm genuinelly not, and snapping at me in front of both of the children. If he ever makes an innocent joke about SD, then I do too, he will tell me (in a seemingly light hearted way) that I am being a meanie. He expects me to take her on like we are one big happy family, yet if I have something to say about her behaviour for example, he will often get defensive. But I think - you want this to be my life, so I am going to be honest with how I feel about things. (Although with time I'm keeping more in and clearly I can't be too honest otherwise I wouldn't be on here!).

We obviously have our child together, but I feel like he almost expects / wants things to be 50/50 with both children, am I wrong in thinking it shouldnt be? We are a family after all, and I guess whether blood or not shouldnt matter, but equally I have really been struggling with the whole becoming a mother to one, but being expected to be a mother to two. I am really conscious that to help get out of this PPD, I need to prioritise myself at times - but I end up resenting the fact that alot of the times when I could be doing that, I'm being asked to pick up from school, or if at home and my son has a nap and then I want to rest or do something to help myself, I have SD vying for attention and I end up pleasing her, then putting myself last so she doesnt feel rejected.

So many people say "you never know what she has been through", or "that's just parenting for you", and those are both true, but I can't help but feel that I have so much pressure on me to deal with this little human being (who for the record I do enjoy spending time with at times as well) when I don't necessarily want it, certainly not all of the time. But recently I also feel myself resenting because of how the whole situation has affected me mentally, and this might sound harsh, but a lot of the time I feel "inconvenienced" by her, for want of a better word.

Of course now I have my son, I wouldnt change that for the world. But sometimes I can't help feeling like it would be better if it was just me and him, then I would remove the stress of two other people from my life, and only have to deal with his dad when making arrangements. I don't want it to come to that. Me and his dad used to have so much fun together, I really thought we would be together forever, but I think the pressure that we have on us is proving too much. I want it to work, but we just cant seem to get on. When SD stays at her grandma's, things feel so much easier, I guess it would anyway having one child less to sort out in the evenings.

The other part of me feels this is probably just a hard patch, and to persevere, as when we come out the other side of it, things will be much clearer. 

I've tried talking to my partner, but he often blames our "issues" on my PPD... it's like he doesnt want to / is not able to admit that anything could be partly down to other reasons.. especially not himself. I've considered relationship counselling to help, but I'm not sure if we will do that or not yet.

Anyway I'm sorry for the long post, I guess I was just looking to offload, and see if anyone has any advice for me in how to deal with the sitation.

Zhigy's picture

My sister does this really well, she and her hubby works full time, but on weekends they both arrange for a baby sitter (parents / paid) and they both have time to do things they love for 2-3 hours. It can be anything from a massage, trail run with friends, bushwalk, coffee with the girls etc. This costs them money but in the long run, having a happy mum results in a happy family cos she is relaxed and ready to parent again. They have a cleaner come through weekly which helps as they have 2 children too. 

Parenting is not easy - I’ve found that with SO’s children they struggle with emotions, and can’t express their feelings. Sounds as though your SD has had a rocky start with the BM’s situation. Expectations are usually better discussed and communicated between you both so it is clear what both parties want / need. 

Step children will always have more complex emotions than bio children. Hang in there - you’re doing a great job! 

shamds's picture

And it really hit me that hubby failed to address issues eith skids enjoying abusing us and even disrespecting hubbys own family.

i’m lucky my hubbys nieces and nephews grill the shit out of ss about his treatment of me and our kids (his half siblings) because to my inlaws we are family. They can’t understand someone (like skids) who are more related to us treat us as strangers and actively say that and trashtalk us to the inlaws and laugh about it. 

Ss told his uncle (hubbys bil) that caring for a baby was a womans job. Bil is an ex army bloke and shut that shit down with ss then aged 17. Ss had this smirk and smug look on his face..

thing is the various issues with skids and blended family dynamics just increase when you have kids of your own because suddenly there is no consistency in the home with regards to basic expectations, manners, behaviours etc. skids get off scott free, no respect for boundaries and others yet our own kids are held to a higher standard etc... its frustrating

sm1787's picture

It's great to hear from other's perspectives. I don't really get to air my issues much in "real life" for obvious reasons.

I just find it difficult in understanding exactly what the dynamic should be. I feel DH can be understanding to an extent, and does give me space with certain things, but ultimately he wants me to step in like Mary Poppins and sweep up SD and love her like she's my own..

If I ask DH to help out with DS, he will do, but often times he will want me to help with SD in return.. for example at bedtimes. If I am tired and need a break and ask DH to put DS to bed (I do this 99% of the time), he will ask me to put SD to bed instead then, and do school work or whatever else needs doing with her before bed - whatever it is he was going to do with her (DH does do a lot of the school work with her usually). I don't mind sometimes, and we do alternate at times. But sometimes, I just want a break, but I feel like I'll come across really unreasonable and unfair if I am to say I dont want to put her to bed, can he just help me out with DS and then sort his daughter out too! I miss being able to relax at times and I understand that with kids that's just how it is.. but I didn't sign up for 2 kids yet, and I'd rather focus my energy towards my son and getting myself into a better place with the PPD... is that totally selfish?!

As mentioned it's a complex situation, but we didn't expect for SD to be living with us 100% of the time at first. In fact, BM was witholding contact, so when SD was sent to live with us, I had never even met her before. I was prepared that DH had a daughter and that she would be part of my life eventually, but I didn't think to this extent, and so suddenly. I have tried my best with her, the adjustment period has been difficult (especially considering I became pregnant and a first time mom myself within that time), and that period I'd say is still not over. So I do struggle when I am in need of my own time and I'm expected to parent an extra child. Not always, but often times I do end up feeling resentment when I have to adjust my day according to what she needs. I understand it isn't her fault, but now it seems as though her upbringing is partly my responsibility and that feels completely overwhelming.

Also, her grandma (DH's mom) does help out a lot with SD, for example school runs and school holidays, I think she understands the position I'm in (to an extent), but DH doesn't want to put too much on her as I guess he feels its his / our responsibilty. Am I totally wrong in feeling that actually, its more her (grandma's) responsibility than it is mine?? She is blood, she has been involved since birth. She is fit and well and likes spending time with SD (but also admits that SD can be enormously testing at times too). 

I guess I just feel stuck in a rut at the moment with no way out of it! I heard that step families can take up to 7 years to feel like a "normal", functioning family. We are two years in and another five seems like a very long time!!