At 26 and childless I moved in with my partner and became stepmum to his 3 kids alternate weekends, then aged 4/5, 8 and 10. I really tried to love them like my own and treat them accordingly but it was never good enough. They were spoiled, moody and sulky. Their dad had split from the mother 3 years previously so there was no overlap or anything like that. My husband didn’t enforce much in the way of routine either. Their mother treated me like I was a bit of skirt or fluff and was bossy to me, or superior in her manner but polite generally. Over the years, we’ve got married, had our own son together (now aged 14), had the youngest move in with us from age 13 to going off to uni and had the two oldest get married in the last six months. I’ve often provided money, treats such as weekends and nights away, dinners and trips out as a family and worked hard to make sure that our blended family gets on with their mother, grandmother etc. by sending cards for birthdays and inviting them to significant meals like Easter Sunday.
so. I’ve had them in my life for 20 years.
The ages are now almost 30, 28 and 24.
I’m done now. For 20 years, I’ve been treated like I don’t matter by them. They’ve ignored my requests to be informed of attendance at family meals leaving me with headaches and stress regarding how much shopping to get, spare rooms to get ready, food to prepare etc. If I send a gift as I did frequently during lockdown then my husband is profusely thanked and not me, even though it’s apparent he hasn’t had any involvement.
I feel taken advantage of. I feel disrespected. I feel it’s time for me to detach . I need to concentrate on my own family and put some distance between me and these adults. I’m finding it really hard. I know that if I stop the cards, the thoughtful gifts, the arranging of meals and trips, my husband won’t pick up what I’ve stopped and I will get the blame for what they will choose to see as his detachment. Truth is, its been me who has made all the effort all these years. He’s just sat back and let me.
it’s feels like I’ve only just acknowledged this highly dysfunctional and toxic relationship needs to be cut back. It feels like I’ve spent 20 years trying to get them to like me, to do the “right” thing that society and extended families demand of me as a stepmum. I genuinely feel like a victim of mental abuse.