"My Stepdaughter Is Coming Between Us"
"Angry? I was livid!" said Bill, 45, a civil engineer. "Here, let me read what Ann wrote to Kim: 'As long as you are under our roof you must follow our rules. If it is a hardship to do so, you can move. If you have issues with any of this, take it up with me, not your dad. If I hear that you've complained to him, I'll ask that you find another residence.' She then went on to list 11 'conditions,' such as 'clean the shower every day.' Even Ann doesn't do that! How could she possibly think that letter wasn't inflammatory? And how dare she tell my daughter that she can't talk to me?
"I knew Kim's wedding would be tough, but hearing Ann complain incessantly about being left out made everything worse. I'm not saying she's wrong across the board -- her name should have been on the invitation, for instance. But my ex-wife was in charge of that stuff. Believe me, if it were Kara's wedding, Ann would call the shots. If the biological mother is around, a stepmother is not going to be involved. Why doesn't Ann get that?
"I won't apologize for being protective of my daughter. She's an only child, and the divorce was really hard on her. Ann had primary custody of her kids, so she doesn't know how it feels not to be able to tuck your child into bed every night.
"I never dreamed I'd be a divorced dad. When my ex told me she'd fallen in love with someone else I barely knew how to react. I'm the eldest of six kids from a traditional family, and divorce wasn't in our vocabulary. Being the eldest was both a privilege and a burden. My parents were grateful when I helped with my siblings, but I also felt pressured to set a good example and keep everyone safe. I took that responsibility seriously as a boy, and as a father I've felt the same responsibility to Kim.
"Ever since she was little, Wednesday night was Kim night. And Ann always resented it, despite her claims to the contrary. Jeez, the fact that she's still carrying on about the time I didn't want her to sit with us speaks for itself. It's like she has a big scorecard in her head of every slight she's ever suffered. It's painful to listen to her talk about how upset or worried she is about this thing or that. I don't catalogue hurts that way -- I tend to blow up and then it's over. This time, though, Ann went too far. I love her very much, but writing that letter was so out of line that I'm finding it hard to move on."