Why being a step-parent is harder than being a parent…

When I met my husband, he already had a 3 year old daughter. It was never a problem for me – even though I had only just turned 18, I was possibly more maternal then than I am now after having my own daughter! However, the minute I mentioned our relationship to, well, anyone, I was told not to go near him, he had baggage, blah blah blah! I’m pretty sure my “baggage” is worse, and it doesn’t come in anywhere near as cute packaging as Kiera – how can a child be “baggage”?

I’d always grown up around children (being the eldest of 5); I had an almost maternal bond with my youngest siblings, too. But even that could not have prepared me for the absolute shit storm that came hand in hand with becoming a step-parent.

Kiera was possibly the most adorable little 3 year old I’d ever met – that’s probably why Jamie knew that he could get me to go out with them both if he just sent her my way asking me to take her to the park with her dad. It was pretty impossible to refuse such a cutie!

It’s fair to say, I fell in love with both of them. Jamie wasn’t Jamie without Kiera. Kiera made him an amazing dad and a kind, caring, loving man. Kiera made me a parent – she made me part of a family, even if it was a pot noodle family (just add mum!)

It had been a while since I felt like I was part of a family.

But with all of the amazing parts of becoming a step-parent, there was hell waiting behind it. The manipulation, the alienation, the arguments and the upset were all waiting to come as I got deeper into their lives.

The first hard thing was leaving her and Jamie behind for university. My life carried on – it would be 2 or 3 months at a time between visiting home to see them both, and, even at home, Kiera would be between houses. Those days were probably the best so far – I used to love coming home for uni breaks and being greeted by her at the train station. She would run up to me and jump into my arms for cuddles, much like Olivia does now when I pick her up from the childminder. It makes me so so happy and feel so loved when the kids do that, but, with Kiera, those days are over.

It’s no secret that her mum doesn’t like me – she never has. We’ve tried and tried and tried to be civil but I’m the step-mum, in her eyes, I’m the bitch. Kiera knows that, Kiera picks up on it, and almost every time she’s been at our house for the last 2 or 3 years, she has gone back to her mum, playing on that and banking on the fact that she’ll get sympathy for making up tales about me.

She’s nearly 9, so of course I don’t expect things to be the same as when she was 3, but our relationship is really, really strained. There’s so much parental alienation going on that I don’t know how or even if I should try to solve it. Whatever I do, it gets twisted.

So now, during this 7 month tour that Jamie has been on in Afghanistan, Olivia has seen her sister 4 times.

My heart breaks for her. On top of me missing my stepdaughter, Olivia is missing her sister. She doesn’t understand why her dad and her sister aren’t here anymore. She called our friend’s daughter her sister recently, and although it was the cutest thing ever, it made me realise that she doesn’t even know what a sister is. She hasn’t made the association that it’s ONLY Kiera and not every older girl she spends time with.

Being a step-parent isn’t an easy ride. I’m sure, or at least I hope, it’s not the same for every step-parent, but it’s so tough having to constantly wonder whether this is normal behaviour for a child torn between two families, or if she actually does hate you.

If it’s the latter, what do you do? Has anyone been through similar trouble and able to share some support? One wicked stepmother here who needs to know she’s not the only one!

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