When you feel like a stranger in your own home
I'm not a new Stepmum - but this is the first time I've felt desperate enough - and alone - to seek the counsel and support of others so apologies for not knowing the abbreviations etc!
I am mainly venting but if anyone has any advice, shared experiences or coping techniques I'm all ears
I have two of my own children (6, 2) and two step-ds (14,11) that visit at weekends and holidays. I have been in the steps lives since they were six and three years old respectively . Their BM asked my husband to move out when they were two and five, weeks after asking to have her name put on the deeds of his house to make her feel more 'secure' because he didn't want to marry her. She then moved a 19 year old boy in (12 years younger than her) - but not full-time - because that would have an adverse effect on her benefits. Three years later she ended that relationship but let him stay around because she needed the child care while she went out with her new partner - who this time was female.
Anyway, it was tough being a parent 'overnight' but we muddled through. My husband and I like to create a semblance of a family unit for the girls because of their screwy home environment, although on reflection that's *me* not us, and I'm the one that has made it happen and tried to instil good morals and values, behaviour and manners. He is certainly of the mindset that his contribution to parenting them is the money he pays per month and the 3 hour round trip journey to collect them. When they are here, I am very much the hands on parent, organising things to do, taking care of their welfare (I've even spoken to the eldest's school teacher about bullying concerns etc when her mother asked me to).
There were plenty of difficult times, like on our wedding day when one of them whispered that I looked nothing like a princess and why was I so fat. The time after my eldest was born and they discussed how I was the odd one out because they all 'share' blood. The time the ex dumped the kids on us when I went into labour early and wouldn't have them back for a week. The time she forced them to miss school before Christmas one year because she wanted to go on holiday with her friend in term time and the girls were hysterical because they would get told off by school. There are many more but you get the picture.
I want to add that I do understand how tough the break up of their parents was/is; the frustrating thing is that I don't think their parents do. I knew they would feel jealous about the arrival of my two children so I made sure I treated them all fairly and the same house rules apply to everyone. I know this is not going to be enough to ease their jealousy or soothe their broken hearts - and I also recognise when their bad behaviour is because of the broken relationship - but now I've reached a point where I'm fed up of putting myself in their shoes because no one puts themselves in my shoes, including my husband.
Hence after a particular unpleasant incident today at my 2yo dd's bday outing, where the 14 yo - who's teenage lip and mood swings are legendary - had a complete strop after she sent her dad to use the £ I had given her for Xmas pressie to buy her an 18 video game because she was asked for ID. He joined us late at the ice cream parlour and pretended it was out of stock before presenting it to her seconds after. She was so enraged that she screamed "screw you dad' at him. The look on my 6 yo's face was one of shock while my husband did what he always does and rolled his eyes a bit. I couldn't bite my lip and said 'pardon - did you really just say that?!!' In my 'seriously not amused' voice and she spat a few words of vitriol at me in return. I asked why she would be so disrespectful when he had just gone to the shop for her,? Her response was to key up, kick over a chair and says "I'm going outside to get away from you" so I told her to go and calm down then come back when she was ready to apologise.
With my 2yo dd screaming I told my husband to go outside and deal with the matter. He came back after about 60 secs and stated she refused to come in so he couldn't be bothered. I told him to go back out (it's freezing, she refuses to wear a coat!) and that was when her younger sister intervened and said to me "the thing is you have to understand that her and mum call each other a b*tch and a sl*t all the time, and to F off etc. I said, I realise your mother has a different parenting style, but that's not how we behave in this household, and it's a really bad example to your younger brother and baby sister. She nodded and said "let me go and talk to her" and I said "no sweetie I don't want you to get involved" but she insisted.
Few mins later they came back in and the oldest flung herself down at the table and gave me a death stare. I looked at her defiantly and asked if she was going to apologise to her father - she said she did 'on the way in' and burst into tears. I lent forward and said quite tenderly, 'Why are you so upset? There's more to this isn't there?" And she started hollering at me. That I needed to understand that she spoke like that to her friends and family and was not going to change for me "or anyone". That she only treats her boss with respect and that's because she doesn't want to get fired. And that I'm some kind of control freak. I said I wasn't asking her to change who she was and I understood she had different boundaries at home (zero) but when she was under our roof and in a position of influence over her siblings I needed her to show us respect. She said she refused to - end of. I said I didn't see how I could have her in our house in that case and said it was unfair on her siblings who love her. She shrugged and said so what.
Suffice to say it was a pained 45 mins while the four kids ate their sundaes. I relayed what SD had said on the way to the car; he simply said "oh she doesn't mean it". After coming home, SD went straight upstairs to call her BM to report the situation - and I'm guessing - slate me big time! I sat on the sofa and could hear the muffled whoops of laughter coming from the spare room. She came back down and sat on the opposite sofa and gave me another look of filth. Husband came over and said "can you make a bit more of an effort and cheer up" as I was probably still feeling shell shocked and staring into space. I said I feel quite low actually, I wish you would do some disciplining instead of it always being me. Why do you feel that's acceptable for your daughter to tell you to go screw yourself. He said "that's just the way she is@ and waltzed off. I went a had a bath with my baby girl to escape the horrid atmosphere (directed 100% at me). When I came down - husband said "let's play a family board game" . I really didn't feel like pretending to play happy families under the glare of SD so declined. He bent down and told me I was pathetic and am being more immature than SD and to "pull myself together".
Hence I am lying on the floor next to my son's bed with a spare duvet feeling rather down. It's not this incident in isolation, as a teenager she has a habit of saying vile things and then carrying on like nithing has happened 48 hours later but I'm becoming less and less able to forgive and I'm becoming more and more resentful to my husband. What makes me feel even more sad is that I learnt from his sister that he was absolutely hideous to his step mother before I met him 9 years ago so I don't see him ever understanding my position.
Uncomfortable, cold and sad next to a snoring six year old!!