To My Stepdaughters’ Mother

This year marks ten years we’ve been in each others’ lives.  Ten years ago I met my husband and I remember the moment that you and I became connected because of him and the girls.

I remember when he told me he had been married and he had two daughters.  I remember when he told me a bit about you: what your name was, where you worked, where you were living at the time.  You seemed to me like an ordinary woman, a mom with a part-time job, two small kids, nothing to stress out about.

I did not know at the time how malignant that would all become.

I never knew just how desperately dependent a person can be on another, the way you were on him.  I never knew a mother would not do everything in her power to protect her preschoolers from pain and sorrow, and I never knew a mother could put her own feelings and needs above her children’s.  I never knew someone as utterly powerless and out of control over her own life, and completely unwilling to change it, as you are.  Instead you chose to blame everyone around you for your choices, faults and misgivings.

In ten years the only thing that has changed as far as those items go, are the ages of your children and the degree that your faults and bad choices have affected all of us.

Your daughters are now entering their teens.  They have witnessed your stagnation and lack of evolution as a woman, your inability to deal with your sorry excuse for a boyfriend and his treatment of them, your continued denial and narcissism and excuse-making and blame-doling, your lack of ambition, your low standards of life and living, and dealt with the consequences of all that, plus your style of parenting.

There have been times, and lots of them, especially over recent years, when I have felt pity and/or sympathy for you.  You’re stuck.  You don’t know what to do because no one has given you the tools to figure it all out.  All you know how to do is low-income, dead-end jobs, maybe because no one ever told you you were capable of better.  You don’t know how to fix things.  You don’t know how to be on your own.  You have never had to.  Others have done it for you, and when they don’t, you blame them.  You are utterly without character.  That, to me, is very sad.

At the same time, I am grateful that in recent years you have slowed, and finally ended, your campaign against me.  I have not heard of you calling me obscene names in front of the girls in a number of years.  I have not once heard of you badmouthing my son, or referring to him as a “half-brother”, as if he is less of a brother than your son is.  We have actually had civil conversations, especially when our eldest got her first period.  I wonder if you were as glad about that as I was.  You have been able to refer to me in conversation with my husband as a family member and even…dare I say…a parent. 

You will probably never hear this, but I am sorry for the things I said and did during those early years that caused you pain.  I meant no ill intention but I see now how some of those actions would grate on the exposed nerves of any mother, and I wish I knew then what I know now.

Even though it doesn’t seem as though you’re capable of leading by example, I do hope that you wish better things, much better things, for our girls, and I hope that you know that it’s never too late to repair a relationship.  I wish you well and hope for you that one day you will do what you know you need to do, to make your life better for yourself.

We will never like each other or be friends.  But if we continue moving in the direction we are, if for no other reason than to not give the girls a reason to stress over the seating plans at their weddings, then that’s a battle won.

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on January 16, 2009.

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