Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Maybe I am Growing Up Too....

My step-daughter and her boyfriend have been in town visiting for the past few days, 6 days total tomorrow when they leave and the longest visit yet for them. It has been a really nice visit with adventures and giggling. It wasn't always this way though.

When my husband and I married, I was 18 years old and she was 9. By today's modern standards that gap really isn't much of an oddity....but the mental maturity / or lack of provided lumps and bumps along the way. In the beginning, she was struck with admiration and devotion for me. Things were so easy and sublime. She was like my personal cheerleader as I learned the art of being Mom and Wife to a ready made family while attempting to grow up myself. But I noticed a change when her teen years set in. Maybe it was her own way of coping with her parents divorce and being a teenager, maybe it had to do with her dad and I having our own children, maybe it was a bit self inflicted on my part with my own waves of growing up and heart dealings.....but there was a silent defiance that rose up between us. It was a cold and indifferent shoulder presented to me over the next several years that waved in degree through her mid-twenties. Whenever she was visiting, I got the hugs and hellos but felt like an invisible extra in my own home much of the time. I tried to create the atmosphere that was needed to give her and her dad time together along with her new siblings while fighting back my own feelings of being the expendable house help. I never wanted or tried to replace her mom but it was apparent to me and others around me that I was to replace nothing at all. My husband, not realizing the label of his own need to make up for lost time with his first daughter, remained mostly unaware of my struggles.

I would gear up for visits, trying to put my heart on my sleeve with a layer of protective covering for the inevitable. I would try to make myself available just in case but then retreat to my room when hurts got too close. I would counsel myself that me being my husband's most important....until she was around was just part of being a blended family and I knew that before we got married. I ached for that father daughter relationship in my own life and knew how wrong it would be to get in the middle of it. As time went on, I could tell that the small armor I used was getting bigger and bigger. I stopped trying to arrange visits for her to see my family that live just a few miles away because it hurt to wait for her to decide to remember to hug them hello or even say good bye. I stopped making my schedule clear for her visits. My life went on and if I had a free hour or two here and there....well that was okay. They had fun with or without me anyway.

Now she is 28 years old and the past couple of years are showing to be heart felt changes for her. Maybe it is called being an adult, maybe it is life for her with this nice young man, maybe she and I both are at places in our lives where we are silently dealing with instead of running from our feelings. Whatever the reasons, I am so grateful for this new season.

She gave me a rare glimpse into her heart that I have not been privy to in many years recently and it made me cry. We were sitting down to dinner, a dinner that she had virtually put together on her own with only my verbal direction as I was running out to help my hubby with an errand, and her eyes got glassy red. Her dad asked if her allergies were kicking in again and she replied with a smile and said she was fine......then quietly excused herself to the restroom. When I tapped on the door, she let me in as cool sink water dripped from her flushed face. She could barely look at me as she whispered, "I am sorry. I just really want you guys to approve of "J" and things don't always go the way I think they should and I worry that you will never really like him."

Wow....I was stunned. In the short seconds that followed before my response I saw a new world, a world thru her eyes. Nothing had happened. We had all been getting along wonderfully. But she had been keeping herself in pressure all this time...wanting the acceptance that all daughters crave. As she walked through our home with each visit with outward confidence and assurance, she hid her insecurities inside under armor just like me.

I hugged her and held her, a bit too long for her comfort as she gently tried to pull away a couple of times. But I couldn't let go. I wanted my love and acceptance to flow through me to her, imparting confidence and security. My words told her that we are always grateful for her visits, their visits, and he is the best guy ever. Not only does he make her happy but he is a man of good character and her dad looks at him like gold. She thanked me, smiled, and then the moment was over. It was time to clean up and make like nothing happened or people would wonder. We went back to the table and enjoyed our dinner and everyone took their turn at jokes and silly stories.

I am so grateful for changing seasons. God says everything has a season, we just don't know the time table. But when I am discouraged, I must rest assured that everything has a season of change. It is how the people around me grow....it is how I grow.


  1. Jules, I just wrote you a long, lovely post and blogspot ate it. Now I am out of time! I detest blogspot.

  2. Okay -- cookies are out of the oven and on cooling racks. Now:

    I can identify! My step-daughter used to lock me out of the house when I took out the garbage! Still, it wasn't just hurt and dislike. Like your step-daughter, she started off idolizing me.

    The way my step-daughter treated me had less to do with me, than it had to do with her asserting her loyalty to her mother. It didn't matter that her mother wasn't there to see it, Deb could keep her own conscious clear.

    I can't help but wonder how your husband gets along with his ex- -- and how youget along with her.? You said in the beginning that your step-daughter idolized you. That might have been hard on the mother, and those feelings might have been transmitted to the child.

  3. The way you tell your stories si so wonderful, you have a real talent to express your feelings and tell your life, I deeply admire you, not only your story telling, but also your love of God, your love of life, it's beautiful.
    I am happy that your step daughter and yourself are now in harmony, your family deserves peace and happiness.
    Mille baisers.

  4. You should throw an armor piercing party. It's about time

  5. by telling the story you help others.PSALM 133:1 God bless.

  6. Just thinking why not tell your life storey in a book.TELLING IT TO NOW.you have many books in you . ask God.

  7. I will admit I got a tear in my eye while reading your post...why? I do not know, but I am so glad at least one shield may have been discarded...growing is tough...and growing up is even tougher when there are factors of allegiance that constrain our ability to feel....it is so wonderful that you can see both sides...here is to future hugs that convey trust and acceptance.

    Surely, God is smiling...

  8. Quilly I am so sorry that blogger has been giving you problems. THat is a bummer. Hey what kind of cookies did you ake and aren't you gonna share?

    Thank you for sharing about your experience. It helps to know I am not alone....you know. I can totally see what you mean about the loyalty aspect of things. The whole relating to the ex thing I thought was really wierd but good for the kids and I soon learned that everyone in his family treated the exes the same way. When they were little, hubby talked to her on the phone all the time. They even came into town one night and spent the night at my folks house while we were living there.

    Kitem...mon cheri ami de Francias
    (I probably butchered the grammar but I am trying) Thank you for your encouraging words of comfort. You are always so good to me.

    Sandi...now there is a thought, a party. I must admit that after ann the tension and no tension today after they left I sat down and cried.

    Alan....that is so encouraging (and I don't mean to sound like I am looking for compliments or something) I truly don't think I have anything worth writing a book about. But who knows....God knows...I will pray. I have learned that saying never is a sure fire way of having stranger things happen.

    Joni...thank you for smiling, encouraging, shedding a tear, and feeling the whole thing with me.

  9. relationships are a complicated thing... and we all make mistakes believeng we are doing our best.
    i'm glad you and your stepdaughter seem to be getting along after all the rials...

  10. Polona...you are right. We all do what we think is best at the time. Thank you for your encouragement.

  11. I am so glad I had a few minutes to play through your blog! This post, I think I will print and put in my night stand! I have not been idolized or for any physical appearance, been more than, oh the kitchen table or the waitress! So there was no shift to from one extreme to the other. It went from middle of the road to kitchen table or dirt under her feet. There have been some subtle changes, and she leaves the states this summer. Her plans are forever, to marry the love of her life there.Even though there will be distance, I so hope that in the future to be friends! Thanks for posting this!


I love to hear from other. Your opinions and viewpoints are always a blessing and encourage other readers as well.