I was just 10 years old when I became a stepdaughter and my brother was just 7 years old. Growing up was very difficult for a lot of reasons. When my parents got divorced, it was very hard on me and my brother because it was an awful divorce with many court hearings between my Mom and Dad. I remember crying a lot when my parents got into a huge altercation where the police were even called. I remember being so scared that something might happen to one of them. Then my Dad got remarried to my stepmom who was only 17 ½ years old at the time. She wasn’t even an adult yet but had to become adult pretty fast yet alone be a Stepmom which I am sure had to be pretty hard on her. She was 16 years old when they first started dating and my Dad is 18 years older than her too. Adjusting to having a stepmom was very difficult for both me and my brother because of my mother. My mother would say all of these mean things about my Dad and Stepmom. She told us that my Stepmom was the one that broke both of my parents up and that I can never trust a Mexican. Yes, my stepmom is Mexican. I later learned that when I became an adult that, my Stepmom didn’t break up my Mom and Dad’s marriage, my Mom broke up the marriage to my Dad by having an affair with her boss. But my whole childhood I believed that my Stepmom broke up my Mom’s and Dad’s marriage. My Mom would tell both my brother and I that we didn’t have to listen to my Stepmom and that she wasn’t the boss of us. She would also tell us that My Dad didn’t care about us anymore and that he loves my Stepmom and his other kids more than us. I believed everything my Mom would say to us because I was a child. I never thought that my mom could be lying to us. Thinking back, I think my Mom was jealous of my Stepmom because she was young, where my Mom was 9 years older than my Dad.
Before my Stepmom married my Dad, she used to babysit us when my Dad was working on the weekends and we used to like her and thought she was fun until my Dad and her became an item. Then everything started to change and the way my Stepmom would treat us was different and not the best. Every other weekend was very hard for me because I really wanted to try to like my Stepmom but couldn’t because of my Mom. I was so torn and stuck in the middle, I felt like if I liked my Stepmom it would be betraying my Mom.
My Stepmom and Dad had all of these rules and chores for us to do when we would visit them. For instance, if we wanted something to drink or eat, we had to ask permission first. Then I had to fold and sort laundry, vacuum the house, clean windows, pick up dog poop outside and do dishes by hand. My Stepmom would inspect the dishes to make sure they were clean and if they weren’t I had to do them over again. I ended up hating going over there because I felt like I was a slave, felt like I was Cinderella. I did all of these chores while my Stepmom got fatter and watched her soaps on TV. When all I wanted was to spend time with my Dad 1:1, I rarely got time with my Dad without my Stepmom there. In the summer time, my Dad would take us sailing on his sailboat. My Stepmom wouldn’t go on it because she always got seasick. Whenever he went sailing my brother and I would go because it was the only time we got to spend with my Dad without my Stepmom there. I loved going sailing with my Dad. I did feel like my Stepmom took my Dad away from me and my brother. Anytime we got to spend with my Dad without her around, she became jealous of it. In fact, every time we got home from somewhere we went with my Dad, she had this attitude towards us and my Dad. Then when my Stepmom started having Babies with my Dad we always had to bring one of them with us everywhere we went with my Dad. All I wanted was time alone with my Dad without anyone else around. I really resented my Stepmom for always making sure one of her kids went wherever we went with my Dad.
My fond memories of my Stepmom were when she was making dinner and would ask me to help her make it. I enjoyed learning how to cook Mexican food and my Stepmom was a great Mexican cook. She did not know how to make other meals, but she did cook Mexican food really well. I remember when I was 14 years old she made this romantic dinner for me and my first boyfriend at the time with candles and wine glasses filled with Pepsi.
What I did realize through everything was that being at my Dads taught me respect and responsibility and how to keep things clean. My Dad and Stepmom were really strict but I learned so much being there. The only rule I remember at my Mom’s house was to be in the house before the street lights went on.
We went roller skating a lot which we both loved to do with my Dad. We went camping one summer. We also had a pool at my Dads which we loved using in the summer time and had a camper that we used to spend the night in. We used to play family games with my Dad and Stepmom which were a lot of fun, but then once my Stepmom started having babies everything kind of stopped.
There was even a time where I went to live with my Dad and Stepmom. But it only lasted less than a year because I couldn’t take all of the rules, chores and I had a big blowout fight with both my Dad and Stepmom where I called my Stepmom the “B” word. My Dad then hit me in my face which really shocked me, but looking back at it now, I really deserved it, I was out of line.
Every time I asked my Dad to do something with us my Stepmom would say “we are broke, we don’t have any money” and that they had a lot of bills to pay. It used to get me mad and I got tired of hearing the same response over and over again. But yet, they would go on these great vacations without us. My Dad and Stepmom never talked bad about my Mom or put her down like my Mom constantly did about them. I did feel like I could talk to my Stepmom and open up to her but the moment I felt like I was getting to close to her, I would pull away because of my Mom. I felt torn in the middle of the two of them. Sometimes I would feel like my Stepmom was pretending to like me and my brother but secretly hated us. I would overhear her talk on the phone in Spanish to her family about me and my brother. She couldn’t say our names in Spanish, she would every now and then say our name and then continue to talk in Spanish. It really used to bother me so much that when I was in High School I took Spanish just to learn it so I would know what she is saying on the phone about us. It got to the point where I didn’t trust my Stepmom thanks to everything my Mom put into my head. Then as we got older they would go on great vacations in the summer time and take my step siblings with them but never included us which really hurt our feelings. It made us feel like we were outsiders at my Dads. When we would go to my Dad’s house there were tons of pictures of my stepsiblings but very little pictures of us which made my anger grow even more. My mom would validate my feelings by making it worse by feeding us more lies about them. When I turned 16 years old, I eventually stopped going over to my Dad’s house every other weekend. I just had enough of all of the rules and I had two jobs I was working and they were just more important at the time. I think I stopped going because I felt like me and my brother were replaced with his new kids he had with my Stepmom.
I do really regret the way I treated my Stepmom but I was a child. I was only just doing what I was told to do from my Mom which was to hate the enemy (my Stepmom) and resent my Dad for putting her first before me and my brother. Later on, when I became an adult I realized that my Mom was in the wrong for everything she did. I didn’t know the truth of why both of my parents divorced until I was 23 years old. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned that my Mom was doing parental alienation with us towards my Dad and Stepmom.
Today, I look back and realize what I did was wrong in how I treated my Stepmom. I did eventually apologize to my Stepmom for everything I did and said to her that hurt her when I was a child. It was a great moment we had, and I cried with her.
Now today because of everything that happened in my childhood my Dad and I aren’t very close. He is closer to my step siblings more than he is with me and my brother and that’s mainly because they had him all of their childhood life, when we didn’t. I have learned to accept it and appreciate the relationship I do have with him and try to build on it when I can.
I wrote this post for Stepmoms to read and understand that all stepchildren want is more time with their Dad 1:1 and to feel accepted and loved as they are. It’s not about us, Stepmoms; it’s about them and their relationship with their Dad. If we are supportive of them spending time with their Dads, they will eventually turn around and be more accepting of us. After all, they don’t get much time with them anyways because of living at their Mom’s house. Let them make their childhood memorable. They will let you in when they see we aren’t trying to take them away from their Dad.
If only my parents knew how I was really feeling back then when I was a child maybe things would have been different at both homes. If only my Mom knew what she was doing to us was totally wrong. If only I spoke up and talked to my Dad and shared with him my feelings of wanting to spend more time with him may be everything would have been different. Don’t have your stepchildren have “if you only knew” statement for their childhood. Try to give them space, time with their Dad, try to make them feel more accepted and included in everything you do, they will learn to appreciate you more if you do.