My Surreal Life

My Musings, My Thoughts & My Ponderings

Grief, Loss and StepChildren

When I met my husband he was already a StepDad to BMs eldest daughter. He had met BM a little while after SD16 was born and was in her life where her biological dad wasn’t. SD16 called my husband ‘Dad’ and knew that although he biologically wasn’t that he was the man that had been there for her and had raised her. When H & his ex broke up and I came on the scene, she referred to me as her StepMom even though this wasn’t completely true, but it was the relationship we had through all the ‘giving it up for free’ BM did in her teenage years and early twenties.

SD16 was born to a teenage mom, she barely sees her biological dad who lives in a difference country, however, it is technically only 90mins from where she lives but he sent cards and perhaps once a year made a trip to visit.  Through my Husbands entire relationship with his ex, he never knew whether or not this man paid child support or how often he was in contact.  He met him by chance one day in his own home, when his ex had him in the sitting room as H arrived home from work. Given BMs shady desire for secrecy and hiding the truth, he didn’t get much further information. By that stage, he had emotionally removed himself from the relationship with BM and didn’t particularly care. He was working for his children to provide them the home in which they lived in and that was really it. To this day we don’t know the ins and outs of the relationship BM & SD16 has with her biological father, but its not our place and it doesn’t bother us. Giving BMs personality I can understand why he would leave the country and not be involved, however, I also believe that if he is willing to float in and out of her life then perhaps he should have fought BM on it further.

When I came in to SD16 life she was 13 years old, my husband had been her father for the best part of 12 years and she knew only home, She was also aware of the dynamics of a “blended family”. Fast forward through 2010 and everything was fine, everyone was on the one access schedule. Fast forward through 2011 until Oct, everything was fine. In November, H and I got married and BM started her campaign to bleed us of all the cash we will ever have.  Everything still continued to plod along, there were conversations back and forth about maintenance money, we wanted mediation, BM only wanted court with absolutely no flexibility on the child support, it was her way or no way. So, we decided along with the advice from our Lawyers, that we ask for child support for SD, she was 14 at this time and teens are very expensive to raise. Why should we be giving cash to BM for his 3 children who we have 48% access to and also paying for a stepchild who biologically has nothing to do with us. So, we were within our rights to ask BM for child support for her. Our thinking was that, as opposed to BM actually giving us cash every month we would simply just give her less. It seemed pointless to transfer cash to her and for her to transfer part of that cash back. So Christmas 2011, our Lawyer informed BMs lawyer that we wanted support. BMs lawyer pointed out that he didn’t feel too comfortable asking BM this at Christmas time, we politely informed him that we didn’t find it too nice to be having to deal with all of this either but in all fairness he needed to get over himself. We had access to the children over Christmas but on NYE 2011 something changed.

We picked up the Children on NYE for our scheduled access, we were told by my husbands eldest son that SD wouldn’t be coming and that was the last we seen of her until April 2013. BM without communication or thought on the long term effect of her actions pulled SD from our care because we asked for Child Support to raise the child. She has the nerve to stand up in court several days later and accuse my Husband of treating the child differently since the split and as the court proceedings were about H’s biological children, SD didn’t and couldn’t come in to it.

At the time the best we could do was try to adapt, things hadn’t gone well in court and we were looking for an appeal, H wasn’t working, he provided a statement of means to the court showing he was in a loss every month, he couldn’t pay the mortgage and the bills let alone child support.  He was told by the Judge that he had to pay for his children over paying his mortgage. Ironic considering he was then providing him with 48% access.  H wasn’t entitled to any unemployment support because my earnings as his wife were too much but they weren’t taken in to account as part of his statement of means but BMs lawyer asked about my wages in court and several minutes later the Judge passed his ridiculous statement on the level of child support H was required to pay and that was that. We filed an appeal motion and waited.  In the mean time we were paying BM as much as we could every month, it wasn’t the full amount but it was in our opinion better than nothing. Before we given got an appeal date BM brought H back to court for breach of the child support order.  H’s situation was ever worse this time, we had no lawyer as we couldn’t afford the fee and we were even further behind in our mortgage.  The Judge told H that it was ridiculous he was back in front of him in less than 6 months, that if he didn’t pay the funds that he would end up in jail.  He ordered him to pay the monies owed in addition to the child support he previously order.

We gave up after that, cancelled the appeal and tried to move forward with our lives. It had been 6 months since SD had been in contact at all, not even with H. We left well enough alone because in all honesty, we had been married just over 8 months and we didn’t have a moment to ourselves. We knew the bull BM could spew to SD and the lies that she would tell her over the situation and we didn’t want to draw more unsavory attention to the whole situation. Shortly after that in August 2013, I found out I was pregnant.

I knew H was finding it hard, obviously he had raised SD from she was a tot until she was 15 so it was a big change and a big loss for him.  I supported him as best I could.  Men being men don’t exactly communicate their emotions but I did everything I could do. Nobody asked me how I was doing, nobody acknowledged that I had experienced a loss so I simply tried to move forward. Suppressing anything I felt and telling myself that she was a teenager, they are cheeky and sneaky enough to find ways around things if she really wanted to and perhaps she just couldn’t of been bothered. I drew on experiences where she has disappointed me, or given me cheek to make myself feel better that I didn’t have to parent a teen just at that moment. I told myself that she wasn’t part of my life and I just needed to move forward and that was it.

April 2013 came and SS12 was making his Confirmation, we knew she would be there, didn’t really know what would happen. Didn’t really know whether or not there would be communication. We didn’t know what BM would do, she is a very sneaky, very manipulative. So we went and sat through the ceremony. (There are a whole pile of issues relating to how BM acts that would drive you insane, but its not for now) After the ceremony it was picture time, we went to get our picture, its always a very uncomfortable time because of the relationship, or lack thereof, that we have with BM. I took pictures of H with the children, then I got in some with all the children.  H decided that it was at this point that since SD was close to him to share a hug with her, so tears from her flowed after that, honestly I felt it wasn’t the right time, and it was slightly awkward after that but they exchanged words and I just stood to the side.  I didn’t really know how much I wanted to expose myself to at that point. I was 8 month pregnant, suffering from undiagnosed preeclampsia and just not really in the place to go down that whole emotional route. The whole thing through me at that point and I honestly didn’t want anything to do with it.

We had been hurt, suffered through grief and loss. I was concerned that this would stir everything up again, I was concerned that BM would make SD suffer for communicating with H. I didn’t want anyone to suffer, except for BM for being the route cause of all of this stress. The day I delivered LO was H’s daughters First Holy Communion.  SD wasn’t there, neither was H’s eldest son. Somehow, this whole family event was missing half of the family, a disgrace in my opinion but perhaps this was payback for the communication at the Confirmation.  Shortly after that, SD sent H a message via Facebook and he responded, he told her what happened from our side, which was nothing even remotely like what BM had told her, obviously, and the air between them seemed to have cleared. They would talk when H did the pickup on the phone, he would call SD, she would answer in her room because BM wouldn’t allow her out to the car to have a face to face chat with him. H’s eldest son has now started the same school as SD so when H drops him to school, SD goes out to him now and they have a chat and a hug,

At first, I really didn’t want him engaging in this because I was worried what BM would do to SD if she found out, I was worried that she would try and pull that children from our midweek access, given her history its not beyond doubt it would be something she would try. So I never really asked him about it, it hurt me a lot I suppose. I never really address my emotions about it. However, this morning, I really had too because I came face to face with SD for the first time in 633 days and I had no way around it.  I had to open up to my emotions and be a parent, be an adult and be mature.  She gave me a hug, told me she missed me and congratulated me on the birth of LO.  I asked her how school was, what she was up to.  She is very very pretty, tall and skinny, definitely has traits of her biological father, and shows a lot of personality from my Husband.  She took my number and we parted on positive terms.

As I drove away I found myself welling up with tears, because none of this was her fault, none of this was our fault, BM made the pathetic choice to pull her out of our lives because we did exactly as she did and asked for a child to be provided for but instead of looking out for the child, she looked out for herself and stood by her desire of not being dictated to irrespective of the end results on anyone else but herself. We lost 18 months with this child, we grieved and we moved forward to try and rebuild as best we could without her.

She truly is my eldest Stepdaughter but its been so hard to try to find the words to deal with how someone could remove a parent who has been such an integral part of raising a child. I feel bad about the way I acted because I should have tried to maintain the contact, I am the adult but sometimes you also need to experience loss in order to gain perspective when you need it most.  I’m upset about the relationship my husband lost and I’m hopeful he will be able to rebuild.  I’m hopeful that he will and I will be able to rebuild a relationship with her.  She is a truly wonderful lady, and she is growing up to be a good person from what I can see.  Teens will be teens at the end of the day, and perhaps now we will have a better relationship then before as it is something to be valued. Its taken me 633 days to truly deal with my emotions on all of this, I was very shut down, angry at the child, at BM and H for all different reasons. I told nobody because at the end of the day, opinions about me taking on 3 stepchildren were enough, taking on a child that in true biology had no relationship to me is not something many people understand. My current feeling and emotions are not something many would understand and perhaps many wouldn’t be supportive about letting the relationship go and now trying to rebuild but everything happens for a reason. Its a tale I haven’t been able to acknowledge until this morning, emotionally being a StepMom is perhaps one of the most exhausting roles going. I tried not to let my heart get hurt in all of this but it did, I just never acknowledged it until now.

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2 comments on “Grief, Loss and StepChildren

  1. Jennifer
    September 24, 2013

    Wow… What a heart wrenching story. Truly a stand by your man story. We are in a similar situation in regards to trying to develop a relationship with SD after lies have been told. Comforting to know you are not alone. hugs to you!

  2. Pingback: Raising Another Mans Child - The Good Mother Project

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