Grumpy, cross, fed up. Help?

(17 Posts)
StrugglingStepMum Wed 17-Apr-13 18:20:15

I've name changed. I'm not feeling particularly proud of how I'm feeling tonight.

I have one dsd who is 6 and one dc aged 1.

I'm just struggling. I have a lot of responsibility for her (sole charge a lot). I'm ok with this because I'm a sahm so it would be madness (and not financially viable) to pay for child care for one child while I look after the other. But I do resent having to look after her - she's hard work and not good at entertaining herself so I end up ignoring my baby and feeling resentful.

I can't help but modify the way I'd like to parent my dc because of my dsd. Little things. Big things. I'd love to take my dc to Norfolk to our family home for holidays - plenty to do for a small child. But my dsd hates it there and says its not a holiday without a swimming pool. The last visit was so stressful... So we don't go, we spend stupid amounts of money to go on all inclusive beach type holidays that I hate. And so does dh but dsd is happy.

Oh, there's so much to say.

The relationship between my dc and dsd is great. They're lovely together. And most of the time I feel ok.

The thing that tipped me over today was picking her up from school and her diving into her school bag for the snack her mum had put there. A packet of crisps and a cake. Oh, and 3 biscuits. And we're going home for supper so I said no to a snack - cue big scene.

The thing is that if she has something straight after school she doesn't eat her supper. And it makes my dc want something too.

I'm not looking for advice about that particular situation, it's just an example of how I can't parent my dsd as I'd like to. And how I feel constrained by her Mum's choices. Another stupid example is that her Mum lets her wear nail varnish, make up, heels etc which I hate. If we have a daughter in the future, how do I explain that it's ok for her big sister but not for her?

These are crap examples. Most of the time I really am a good step mum. My dsd loves me and trusts me (which makes it all the worse when I feel so rubbish).

Aargh!!!!!!! It's so hard being a step parent!!!

Honestly, if I'd known the reality I would never have dated my dh. Although then I wouldn't have my dc so maybe that's not true either. I'm not massively happy in my marriage. It's ok, but we have all the normal strains and stresses.

Help? Advice? Please bear in mind that I AM a good step mum, I'm just having one of those days when I wish I wasn't a step mum. How much simpler life would be...

StrugglingStepMum Wed 17-Apr-13 18:27:01

Oh, and we have dsd 3 days and night each week. And most of the school holidays which I hate

Fragglewump Wed 17-Apr-13 18:36:56

It is really hard to co-parent with exes especially when your opinions and values differ. We have a lot of this and it is tough. We do tell the dcs and dscs that different parents have different beliefs and they have to follow the rules of the house they are in. But it does get my goat!! All you can do is to try and agree what is acceptable for your house with your dh and then present a united front. I do think perhaps you could rethink the snack after school especially if you are eating supper after 4.30 ish as infant school children often have a real slump and need a boost after school. I would certainly say no to cake biscuits and crisps though and maybe offer fruit or cheese? Deep breaths and lots of wine help a lot too and reminding yourself that none of the children asked for muppets as the other parents!! Chin up op!

StrugglingStepMum Wed 17-Apr-13 18:48:01

Thanks fraggle yes I should just take fruit for a snack....

Nearly time for a glass of red smile

purpleroses Wed 17-Apr-13 22:16:42

Not easy! I've done quite well since I moved in with DP of removing the tradition of "tea" which basically consisted of a chocolate bar as one of the four meals of the day.

But DSS has started coming here after school on a Friday now, and the second he walks in the door wants to know what's for "tea". Because that's what he does at his mum's every other day of the week. Suggestions of a piece of fruit do not go down well!

Wouldn't worry too much about your (future unborn) daughter copying DSD's nail varnish, etc - they'll be too big an age difference for real comparisons to be made there I'd have thought. (at least that's what I hope when DSD (nearly 16) comes in at 1am, and I hope I'll manage to lay down stricter guidelines when my DD (9) gets to that age grin)

glasscompletelybroken Thu 18-Apr-13 16:42:23

I feel for you but must admit I am mostly staggered that a 6 year old is being allowed to choose the family holiday! What makes a child of 6 feel so entitled? This does not bode well for the future.

Re the snacks I agree with you - you know your dsd and if a snack after school means she won't eat her tea then no snack. I have the same issue with youngest dsd and it's really frustrating. It really doesn't hurt children to actually feel really hungry at a mealtime - they don't need to eat something as soon as they feel a bit hungry, they can learn to wait for a little while.

Agree with glass - why is a child dictating where you holiday?

Three days and nights every week with you is quite a lot. Fine if your DSD was spending the majority of that time with her father and please correct me if I'm wrong here but it doesn't sound like she is. The onus seems to be on you to look after her. Surely your DSD would prefer to be with her mother rather than you?

I know you're having an off day but are you normally happy with the amount if time she spends with you?

StrugglingStepMum Thu 18-Apr-13 17:47:03

Thanks for your replies... My dsd would rather be with me than with random babysitters - the option at her Mum's house as she works very long hours.

And yes, allowing a 6 year old to dictate where we go on holiday is BONKERS. But taking a 6 year old somewhere I feel she's been conditioned not to enjoy is such hard work. She goes to resorts with 24/7 child care and activities with her Mum, who repeatedly tells her that THAT is what a proper holiday is. Oh, and it has to be abroad and somewhere hot. It's just depressing because we can't afford that sort of holiday and no do we want to go to resorts and pack the dc off to kids clubs. (Nothing wrong with kids clubs - just not our thing for entire days)

StrugglingStepMum Thu 18-Apr-13 17:48:52

I suppose as the nrp (in theory) my dh wants his daughter to love our family holidays. I understand that. It's a wider issue really of another adult (dsd's Mum) having an influence on our family. However subtle.

Fragglewump Thu 18-Apr-13 17:54:52

Just about the holiday thing..... I think it's healthy for dcs to see that there are lots of different ways to spend time. My dcs spend a lot of time with their df and wife shopping and with us we go camping a lot. Very different approaches to what makes a fun weekend. At 6 she is young enough to get stuck in to whatever you do. In fact giving her a different holiday would be a great experience for her! Then she has a wide range of experiences to draw on when she decides how to entertain her own family eventually!

Xalla Fri 19-Apr-13 06:37:38

I don't have any magic words I'm afraid SSM but just wanted to say I empathize to the core!

I'm in a very similar SM role to you; DH has 50/50 shared care of DSD7. We have DS4 and DD2 together. I'm often in sole charge and do all of the school runs and activities for DSD. DSD's Mum has a very different set of values and priorities to me. I also find the impact the ex's parenting choices have on our home life maddening.

I refuse to budge on things like diet, activities, make-up, heels. I do have a younger daughter and the rules have to be the same for all the kids in our house so DSD hears "my house, my rules" a LOT. Not saying she likes it but because I won't budge, she grudgingly accepts it. DH had a massive row with his ex last year when she wanted to get DSD's ears pierced for her 6th birthday.

We like to go skiing. DSD's Mum declared it "too dangerous" and then told DSD it was going to be "horrible, wet and cold". DSD said she didn't want to go. DH said "fine, she can stay with you for the week instead" at which point Mum decided actually it wasn't that dangerous after all. Unfortunately by that point DSD was so determined to be miserable it put a dampener on the whole holiday. She loved it when she got there and was very proud of herself afterwards but complained constantly for the weeks before we left and kept telling my son how awful it was going to be so he was dreading it too.

I've come to the conclusion that a situation whereby a child is mostly being cared for a by an unwilling step-parent is far from ideal. I think resentment and frustration can build to a point where it's hard to see the light from the trees. I've often felt like an unpaid childminder. Step-parenting can be thankless task.

For me it's a cycle of things being OK, resentment building, overwhelming shame and guilt for having those feelings, blow up with DH, DH takes DSD away for a weekend or something and back to things being OK for a while.

It's all very well for the posters who say "surely child should be with her Mum" but what when Mum simply doesn't want any more time? What when the child would actually prefer to be at Dad's house regardless of the fact that Dad's usually at work? My DSD and my other kids mostly love each other's company. DSD adores her Dad and vice versa.

I've pretty much accepted there is no 'answer'. Nothing seems black or white with step-parenting -it all seems grey! For me it's about muddling through, getting support where I can and acknowledging that it's OK to need a break at times. Ultimately, the child is not your responsibility.

exoticfruits Fri 19-Apr-13 07:00:39

I have an 8 yr gap between my own DCs and it does make some things difficult, although others are easier.
I think you just have to explain to DSD that when she is with you she does things your way e,g you will go to Norfolk and she won't have a snack before a meal. All families make compromises. In Norfolk let her pick a couple of things that she would really like to do e.g. a trip to the swimming pool and explain that the rest of the time she fits in.

purpleroses Fri 19-Apr-13 11:04:47

On the holiday thing, we have lots of issues with DSC (well, one of them in particular) being very negative about holidays. Two things have helped a bit:
- not calling them holidays as such, but simply saying "we're going to a youth hostel/visit your aunty/whatever - so there's less of a comparison to be made with their pre-existing ideas of what a holiday "should" involve - might work well with a 6 year old.
- Making the plans to go away at times when DSC's mum is around and potentially able to have them. Then offering them the option to come too. Engenders more enthsiasm than simply telling them what they're doing (though only works with a flexible ex who will have them if nec)

orangeandlemons Fri 19-Apr-13 11:16:40

I think your dh is being unfair on you. He should take ore responsibility about mlooking after them rather than just leaving it to you. If they are at your house, it is essentially to be with him. You count and should be around, but they are his responsibility

StrugglingStepMum Fri 19-Apr-13 22:03:24

xalla I think we have very similar experiences and emotions. Thank you for your post.

StrugglingStepMum Fri 19-Apr-13 22:14:13

purple that's a very good idea. "We're going to notfolk" not "we're going on holiday to Norfolk" Brilliant and simple!!

exotic that's how I'd deal with my own dc but its harder when it's dsd. Dh is scared of her saying she'd rather be with her Mum

orange my dh is with dsd as much as he can be. But he works ft and has a long commute. And only 5 weeks holiday each year... His ex wife would argue that she also works ft etc etc. they both NEED to work ft to support themselves and their children but yes, it is frustrating that it falls to me so much.

A good example is on Fridays dsd's mother would like me to collect dsd from school at 3.30pm. I have said no - she's meant to be with us from 5pm and I really didn't want to give up my Friday afternoons just to provide her with childcare. I think she understands my point - I'm often not near home on Fridays anyway - but I do know that she feels lucky to have me (in the manner of someone who's found a great au pair to work for peanuts smile)

Xalla Sat 20-Apr-13 05:29:18

Something else someone told me recently that made a lot of sense to me Struggling is that there are two types of love; love as a verb and love as a noun.

Love as verb takes a kid to after-school activities, love as a verb cooks a kid their favourite food for dinner, love as verb helps them learn the lines for a school play etc.

Love as a noun makes your gut wrench when your kid's had a bad day at school, love as a noun is the love that sneaks in to kiss your sleeping child before you go to bed etc.

I love my DSD in the 'verb' sense of the word. It's down to her parents to love her in the noun.

Not saying it's gospel but it works for me!

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