Sunday, June 15, 2014
Parental Alienation: A Stepmother's Point of View
I think most people must think how easy I must have it as a stepmother. I rarely have to see the kid and my husband's focus is on our child together. We don't pay child support either. However, easy could not be further from the truth. Even though I'm not C.C.'s mother and never can replace her, we share a bond like no other. Aside from seeing my husband down on Father's Day and my son miss his big sister, I, too, hurt. I met C.C. just after her fifth birthday at a Pizza Hut in small town, Kansas. I wasn't supposed to meet her that day, but her mother had been gracious enough to let her spend the day with us as we passed through town to pick up a few of Murad's things from C.C.'s grandparents' home (he lived with them when he found out C.C. was his daughter). We brought presents with us to drop off wither her grandparents for her birthday and Christmas. Instead of waiting to open them, she opened them right away. I brought her "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type," She remarked that she loved to read and was was excited to read it. I also had some photos printed of C.C. and Murad at his dad's wedding that previous June. Murad and I had started dating around that time (May) and I remembered him talking about how excited he was for his daughter to come to New Jersey for his father's wedding. Murad got her some clothes. I remember her remarking about the "bling-bling" on the shirt. From then on, we instantly became fast friends. We played at the park and when we arrived back at her grandparents' home, she only wanted to sit on my lap. She cuddled up under me quite a bit and even blessed me with a fart! When we tried to visit again that following March, her mother wouldn't let us see her because we had taken her to the park unsupervised. From then on, we embarked on an almost year long hiatus from C.C.'s life. It wasn't until the next Christmas that we got to spend time with her. As I recall that moment, I can't help but think that I've failed her many times since then. There were many times when I felt as though we should give up. The back and forth of not seeing C.C. made it difficult. She always had to adjust to our house and our rules, and simple things like showering regularly and eating meals as a family. Even when we had a chance to have her come live with us, she acted as if she was scared of us and then that scared turned to anger, and then to hatred. Once again, we were alienated from her life, but this time it was from C.C. We quickly moved on, and started a family of our own, and when C.C. would let us in her life we would enter, but we were cautious. We didn't allow ourselves to get too close. I think that caused us to miss many signs of her mother's drug use. I remember one Christmas C.C. spent with us at my parents'. JT must've been a year and a half or so. She kept saying that she liked me so much because her mom was really "out there." I blew it off thinking that maybe she was kissing up because she felt sorry for how she treated us before. I asked her what she meant by being "out there," and she was very vague. She just kept saying she was out there and weird. Looking back, I realize she was trying to tell me something, but I was just too angry to hear it. I know a lot of these things are not our fault and are the result of being in a horrible situation, but as a stepmother and now a mother, I can't help but feel as though I failed her. Hopefully, we'll have the chance to make it up to her and to help her share her own story. If you feel like giving up, don't. Even though we felt as though we didn't impact her life, we're learning quite differently.