Dear Vivacious and Trying Stepdaughter

You’re only five and you could never know how much I actually love you.  You test me beyond possible limits and try my patience more than I could have ever conceived possibly.  You make me angry and happy.  I want you to know that my impatience probably has very little to do with you and more to do with me.  I hurt.  It hurts me that I will never measure up to “mommy” and I know I shouldn’t be striving for that.  I want to do the best I can for you, but sometimes my hurt gets in the way.  I’m only 20 years old.  I wish you could understand that I went from being a child to having one so quickly.  Don’t misunderstand me, I do not regret marrying your daddy.  He is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, next to accepting Christ.  Your daddy loves you.  You will never understand how much.  I wish I could make you see that “our house” has rules because we want so much for you.  Our house is stricter than mommy’s but I wish you could understand that it’s for your own good.  We want to raise you the right way.  I wish you could give daddy a break every now and then.  I wish you didn’t talk about mommy so much.  To be honest, I sometimes wish you could just be in our custody.  You see, honey, I want to be a mommy so badly.  Sometimes being “Vannah” just isn’t enough.  I worry about you.  I don’t want you to grow up too fast; you’re only a little girl.  I want you to be safe and I want to love you freely.  Honestly, I’m afraid of getting hurt I think.  That’s why it’s hard for me to open up to you.  I hate it when you say “I want mommy” or “When am I going back to mommy’s?”  For once, I just want our home to be enough for you.

You are beautiful, brilliant and special.  You have so much potential to do anything you want to do in your life.  You are loved.  I love you.  Your whining drives me crazy and you test me around every corner, but I do love you.  Hopefully, one day you’ll know how much.  Sometimes my hurt overcomes my desire to act like a “mom” I guess.

Somewhere in my heart, I just want us to be enough for you.  I’m getting help for these feelings, because I want to be the kind of stepmom that pours out her love on you.  I start counseling in January to see if they can’t help me untangle some of this hurt inside.  Maybe when you’re older all of this will make sense.  But maybe when you’re older, you won’t remember me like this.  Maybe by then, I’ll be past this.

With love,
Your stepmom

~ by Stepfamily Letter Project on December 21, 2010.

6 Responses to “Dear Vivacious and Trying Stepdaughter”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this letter. It truly brought tears to my eyes because I know the hurt you are feeling and are talking about, its something I battle with every day. I got on here tonight to write my own letter and saw yours and it is the splitting image of what i would have wrote. In our case, SD is 4 and I am only 22 yrs old as well, this is all very new to me.My DH and I just for primary custody of SD 9 weeks ago and its been a struggle and still is. I, like you, want to be mommy to SD so bad but all i am is “Anna” to her and it hurts. It absolutely breaks my heart when she gets hurt and the first person she wants is mommy not me but yet i am the one that has always been there for her and does anything and everything to make sure that she is well taken care of. I also feel like our home is never enough but maybe one day when she does get adjusted to living at our home and sees the love that DH and I have for her that it will be more than enough for her. I wish you the best of luck with your SD and battling your feelings about everything. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Once again thank you for sharing this letter, it is so nice to see that I am not alone in my feelings.((hugs))

  2. Speaking as one who’s been there (and could have written the letter and first comment a short year or two ago), this DOES get better. My SS now 6 went through a looooooong phase of wanting no one but Mommy, constantly asking when he was going back to her place, and if he happened to get hurt, or angry, or even in trouble, the “I want my moooooommmmmmmmmmmmy” would start and last for what seemed like hours. Knife in my heart, every single time, because I can’t have kids of my own and my only thought during his fits would be “no one is EVER going to want me in this way”. Broke my heart.

    Now it’s a few years later, SS is definitely less dependent on Mommy in so many ways. He is also more likely to seek me out when he’s upset at our place. Just yesterday he got scared during a movie, and normally when he would go to Daddy my husband held out his arms but SS said “No, I want my Angie” and he crawled in my lap, then lifted his face for a kiss. *I* was his comfort, and it felt really good.

    I think 4 and 5 is a difficult age for bio parents and step-parents alike: the children are testing their independence, testing their boundaries, but also not wanting to lose the security of their parents and often the target is Mommy because the woman is usually the more nurturing of the two. I don’t know. But I think what you are going through is TOTALLY normal both in terms of what is happening and how you feel about it. You’re allowed to be hurt. It would be weird if you weren’t.

    Original poster: good for you for seeking professional help in sorting out your feelings! I think it will make an enormous difference.

    Hang in there.

  3. Maybe you should start by accepting the fact that she is only 5 and that she HAS a mommy that gave birth to her and that is why she asks for her mommy so much. Can you put yourself in your shoes and think about what a 5 yr old may be feeling when she can’t touch, hug or kiss the mommy that is absent from your home. The mommy that tucks her in each night and has since the day she was born. Even if ‘mommy’ isn’t a good mommy or does things you do not approve of or like, that little girl will never love another person as much as she loves her mommy even when her mommy may not be who you expect her to be. I would say at the age of 20 – only 15 yrs older than this little girl – not even old enough to be her real mommy, these things may be very hard for you to comprehend. Therapy will help you more than you can imagine. Even mommies go to therapy because afterall, there is no owners manual and sometimes we just need an extra helping hand. I applaud you for taking that step and I really hope you can get past your ‘hurt’. This little girl does not intentionally hurt you – she is only 5. When she is 10, well your letter will be a little different.
    She is a lucky little girl to have a stepmom that loves her so much but you can’t let your feelings cloud that love. One day, if you continue with these feelings, that love will turn in to resentment and jealousy. You can’t use this little girl to fix your ‘i want to be a mommy too’ feelings. She is not your child. She has a mommy. But you can be a wonderful part of her life if you will realize that you can’t and never will replace her mommy. I have a wonderful stepmom that I love but she will never replace my mom. And she accepts that which is what makes our relationship work.

    And remember, this little girl is not intentionally testing you because you are not her mommy. She is 5 and she is a girl and that is what little girls do. They are not all sugar and spice 100% of the time. They are mostly spice.. As a mommy of a little girl who has a stepmom, she tests me on a daily basis – so if you plan to have children, please realize, your own children will test you and frustrate you to know end.. But you will still love them. Good luck!

  4. To Anna: your SD will adjust and she will love you and accept you. It’s such a tough time for a little person to change homes. I just want the two of you to realize you can’t replace a bio-mommy. It won’t happen. Obviously your SDs mommy wasn’t stepping up to the plate and so you now have SD in your home. But that does not change her love for her mommy and it never will. Mommy is a very special name and that is her mommy’s right regardless of how bad she is. It’s unfortunate but you can’t erase her or replace her no matter how much you love this little girl – but she will love you back. She will appreciate you but you can’t take mommy’s place and you shouldn’t try to or wish to. It’s not healthy and it will only cause the little girl mental harm. Good luck to you too.

  5. I am aware of what my weaknesses are with the whole situation and I am trying to work on them. I do not want to take the place of SD’s mother but i will not sit idly by and watch her have no mother figure in her life because her mother is sorry and could care less about her so here i am. I never asked to fall in love with someone that had a child, never EVER thought I would be going through what I am going through right now but here I am and all I am trying to do is make the best out of a crappy situation. Mommy is a special name, a name that BM obviously does not deserve but I do not worry about this any more because for one, I know SD loves me regardless and secondly because although I know it will hurt SD,in time she will see her ‘MOTHER’ for who she really is and see the ones that have really been behind her all this time. Thank you for the BM point of view, it is good to see both positions.

  6. I can relate to this also. I am not yet married and am also the same age and my fiance has a 5 year old son. His mother is currently in prison for drug abuse and been abusing drugs for 15 years (that includes being pregnant with him). I find myself holding grudges against her for what she has done and am trying so hard to be a positive influence on my SS life by doing everything I can to help his father raise him right but I sometimes feel that it isn’t good enough. I love them both so much and wouldn’t change it for the world but it is no doubt a hard job.

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