"My Stepdaughter Is Coming Between Us"
Her Turn, Continued
"Bill and I met through friends and quickly discovered we shared similar values, dreams, and backgrounds. We were both a bit gun-shy -- we'd each had a spouse leave us for someone else. But we fell in love and wanted to build a life together. Kara was 10 and Jake was 5. The girls were close in age, so I thought we'd easily blend into a family. Was I deluded!
"Nothing worked with Kim. I'd schedule one-on-one time with her; I'd cook special birthday dinners. For her sweet 16 I made her favorite foods for 30 of her friends. I didn't even get a thank-you. Once a year we took a vacation with all three kids, and the trips were riddled with bad feelings. Kim could even turn a stroll on the beach into an ordeal. She'd make faces at Kara, then run down the beach, leaving Kara behind in tears. Sure, this is typical sibling stuff, but she was relentless. She was impertinent and downright nasty -- and Bill was oblivious.
"He has always put his daughter before me. Always. For instance, Wednesday nights were his special time with Kim, which I totally supported. My kids were with their dad that night, too, so I'd usually see friends. But one Wednesday, the kids were with me and by sheer coincidence we went to the same restaurant as Bill and Kim. I assumed we'd all get one big table, but Bill insisted we sit on the other side of the restaurant. We were hurt, and he didn't have the foggiest idea why. But then he'll walk out of a room when I'm in mid-sentence and, again, can't understand why it upsets me.
"Right now Kara and Jake still live with us, but in the fall Jake's going to college and Kara's getting an apartment with friends. So I've been thinking a lot about the empty nest. I'm often lonely -- an all-too-familiar feeling. I was the youngest of five kids in a religious family. We all went to church together, but we weren't close, and when I was 14 my parents shipped me off to a church-run boarding school. But at least my parents had a good marriage. I wish I could say the same about mine. Clearly, I learned nothing from my first try because I'm failing again and don't know why."