I've just asked permisson from older SD, who we'll call R, as she's the main one who I'll blog about. She's cool with it. I've asked her if she'd do a blog from her point of view to go alongside it and she's had a go View of the Step Daughter (God knows what can of worms I'm about to open!)
So here goes:
I'll start first with a bit of history. My Hubby is 40, he was 21 when R was born and 23 when A was born. Him and the ex split up before A turned 1. R stayed with the Hubby and A went to live with her Mum about 400 miles away.
I came into their lives just before R turned 16. Her Mum hadn't kept contact with her since she'd left, but R and A spent their holidays together with their Grandparents so they had a good relationship.
The age gap between Hubby and I is just over 11 years, between R and I is just over 10.
So I was 26 when I first met R. (April 2009)
Having learned about the situation with her and her Mum, my personality is to be the 'fixer' and the 'Mum' so I spent about the first week, dreaming of this amazing relationship I would build with her. We'd go shopping together, sit around having heart to hearts, she would call me Mum.....
Erm not quite.
I'd best also say that I'd gone from being her, to being my mother, almost over night. With my parents they were very upfront with what they expected of me. It never sunk in that they weren't trying to ruin my life, they were actually trying to prepare me for it, until I started having a house to run, and a teenage daughter to look after. It was a huge eye opener for me.
We attempted shopping together after a few days of knowing each other, she brought friend with her and I can now safely say it was the most awkward shopping trip I've ever been on! But I'd tried.
I was always aware that it would have been very weird for R, she'd had her Dad to herself for 13 years give or take, bar one 3 year relationship he'd had when she was about 6/7.
In August 2009, R's mum tried to rebuild their relationship. In hindsight, this must have been a huge headf**k for R, she'd gone from having no mother figure to having 2 appear in her life within 4 months of each other. I think to keep that story short though, they tried for about a year or so to rebuild but it wasn't to be and now don't speak.
Hubby and I fell quickly in love and decided to move in together in Jan 2010.
I found out I was pregnant in the February.
At first R was excited (as long as it was a boy) but with my mood swings came hers and there were some horrendous days, where we would both try and be in the same small house at the same time without crossing paths. It makes me feel sick thinking about it!
Hubby proposed in the July. I hoped that R would feel a bit more secure, that I was going to stick around and make us a family, and for a while it did. (I found out I was having a boy also which was a huge relief!)
When T was born in October 2010, things became great, R fell head over heels in love with him and for a short while we were the happy little family that I'd dreamed of.
Our wedding date was set for August 2011.
Mothers Day 2011, R bought me a Mothers day card from her and T, and later asked if I'd look into adopting her. I did all my research but with it being a matter of a few months till she turned 18 we were unable to go ahead with it as there was a slim chance that we would have the paperwork cleared before her birthday.
A month or so before the wedding, things took a turn for the worse again. I sat down with R and we screamed it out. It turned out she was stressing that she was getting attached to me and was worried that even though I was marrying the Hubby I may just up and leave one day and she was pushing me away.
We ended up agreeing to get matching tattoos, I told her that I intended to be in her life forever and I was happy to get something that would last forever to show her that.
She got hers done first, we agreed on the following symbol :
I've still not got round to getting mine done, simply because I don't know where to get it done, but I have this one at the moment, so she's still there:
She's the purple one at the bottom, A is the pink one and T is the blue dragonfly.
The wedding was a success, I had both my gorgeous Step Daughters as my Bridesmaids;
Again things were great for a while. I was trying to be a Mum to her, which was (in my eyes) pushing her to make the best of herself, making her responsible for herself, which did cause problems, but I stuck with it, because I hoped that in 10 years time, she would see that I was trying to do good and not ruin her life, like I did with mine.
Then things got to much for us all in this tiny house, one thing led to another and R moved in with her Grandparents in December 2011.
We didn't speak for about 5 months, even though it was initially an arguement with her Dad that made her mind up to move out, after a few weeks, it became my pushiness/bossiness/control freakiness/existance that had caused it.
I couldn't blame her really, I'd come into her quite content life with her Dad and turned it on it's head.
I'm fortunate that my Dad is a StepDad, I spent a lot of time in this period asking him how I could try and resolve things, and also to my 2 sisters who were in R's position. I got a good range of advice, but the one common piece of advice was, 'leave her to it, she'll realise that she wants you in her life, and you were just being you and you were just trying to help, or she won't, and there's nothing you can do to change that'
So I sat and waited.
Fortunately we ended up meeting for a chat and sorting things out.
She still lives with Grandparents at the moment, but she's much happier for it, and our relationship has benefitted from it so much. We do hang out, have heart to hearts over coffee, occasionally go shopping, and speak to each other pretty much every day.
I wouldn't swap our relationship for the world, all the horrible hard times we did have, have been locked away, we now have a mutual understanding that we both do things that annoy each other to death but we both love each other, so we let the annoying things wash over us!
I have a great relationship with A (incase you were wondering why she hadn't been mentioned) again at first it was very hard, the first time I met her was when R and I were in the middle of a fall out, A obviously took her side and that was quite hard! She comes down 2/3 times a year to visit, and it's lovely to spend time with them both (although the last time she came, T just started with the Norovirus, so we didn't get chance to do much things together as a family!)
I don't think I have any words of wisdom to other Step Parents, it depends on the kids history, family, upbringing etc. Each situation will be completely different! A lot of people tell me they admire me for sticking with it, that they would have ended the relationship as soon as they realised they would be taking on someone elses kids. That was never an issue to me, I've always wanted to be a Mum and have a happy little family, in 'taking on' someone else children, it was (in my naive eyes) a ready made family to mother. Obviously that is NOT the case!
The only thing I would say I did do, was to try and treat them as I would my own flesh and blood. I believe I would treat T the exact same way from 16 onwards as I have with R. That's because I believe that I was doing everything for the best reasons. (They may not have been right, but my heart was in the right place!)
I tagged R in this about a year ago, and I think it cleared things up a little: