I did not see this coming

aubsterSeptember 29, 2009

Hi am new here, and I am just looking to talk someone who could possibly understand how I feel. I have tried to talking to my wife about this but she has never been a stepparent, and has expressed to me that doesnt think she would even be able to be a stepparent.

My wife and I have been married for 13 years and have been together for 16 years. She had full custody of the kids the entire time. When my wife and I started dating the kids were 7, 9, 11, and now they are 24, 26, and 28. One has a son of his own now and the oldest has one on the way. This is one of the reasons I am writing this post today.

My kids have never given me problems about being a stepparent; we went through some of the normal teenage problems but nothing having to being steps. I raised them as if they were my own kids, I tried to be there as much as I could, I had them under my insurance so if they got hurt or got sick, they would get the proper care they needed, and supported them in any sports they wanted to play. At that time their father was not around hardly at all. He lived in another city, did not pay any child support, he never showed for any games, and as far as I know he was nowhere to be found when they had an kind of personal problem growing up a teen. I can remember one time when my wife and I was going through a hard time when we both lost our jobs at the same time and school was starting for the kids. She called her ex and asked to barrow a few bucks to by school clothes for the kids, and he said he did not have it. Latter we found that one of the kids was at his house at the time and he found a coffee can full of money. Now he could not help out his kids with school clothes because he was probably saving to buy a new 30 foot boat, or a new motorcycle, or sand rail, something like that I have seen many of in his garage over the years. So I did what any DAD would do in a situation like that. I went to every bar in town, and collected bottles and cans to recycle to get school clothes, and to make ends meet.

Now that the boys are men and making a life of there own, they all live closer to their biological and are spending a lot more time with him. Every family function is spent with the biological family where I feel completely out of place. I get a long with them pretty well, but I do spend a lot of time either by myself or hearing about their good ol days. My wife tries to help by having me hang out with her and her exÂs wife. I have no problems that, but I just feel like his family is thinking that I can not socialize without her. But in their conversations they do a lot of talking about the trips they done, activities they have done, or the toys they have collected. None of which I can talk about because I was spending all of my time and money on making sure his kids grew up healthy, with an education, and to be an asset to society.

All the while he was collecting all of his toys to be Disney land dad when the kids grew up. I just have been feeling like I gave all my time and energy in raising the boys, I have lots of pride in that, but someone else is reaping of the benefits. I now have to spend a 3 hours to go visit them for a special occasion, spend money on a hotel to spend my time thinking how much they are growing up to look like there father, how much of their personalities are like fathers, and how I wish I had that. I never thought about that to much until they grew up and I now that I see them around their father more. It make me feel like more of a friend to the boys instead of a dad. That is extreamly hard for me to admit, because I have always seen them as my sons. To this day I will introduce them as my sons. I have never seen them as anything else until recently. I am now being introduced as the step parent by other side of the family and it hurts.

With that I am feeling more and more lonely as the time goes by. The kids have been getting married, and having children, so my wife wants to spend more time with them. It is certainly putting a strain on our marriage because she is sensing something wrong with me, and I have tried to tell her how I feel, but it always ends up as an argument. She does not get how I could ever feel this way, and takes it as a personal attack, and makes comments like: "Maybe I should leave and let you find someone you can have your own kids with." Like that would ever happen. I do not want my own kids. For a while I felt as if I had my own kids. I am not looking for a replacement.

That is why I am writing this today. I hope someone can give me some advise on how I could help this situation I am in. That I was not living a fairy tale and now I beginning to wake up to find that the past 16 years I was just living a lie, maybe there is hope for my family to feel like I a part of it again.

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I'm so sorry Aubster -- I can see you are hurting, and I can understand why. You did all of the thankless hard work needed to raise three fine young adults, and now here they are having great fun with 'life-of-the-party-Dad'.

You have valid reasons to be sad and disappointed (You didn't mention resentful, but I'd suspect that's in there too - and reasonably), and my advice is to go with that.
For a while. Just a little while.
A time-period that you define and set aside for just that purpose -- a few days maybe?
It's commonly called a 'pity party', and we all have them.
But then you call an end to the pity party, STOP wallowing in your disappointment, and take positive steps.

What positive steps? Well, you've already admitted that they've grown into fine adults, and that this is something you can rightfully be proud of. So be proud of it!

You've acknowledged that BioDad is a fun guy with a barnful of toys. Acknowledge that out loud to the kids. (That may be all it takes to remind them that Dear Ole' Dad was off having fun while they were growing up.)

And your kids need to hear -- one time, preferably from your wife -- that while BioDad is sure a fun guy to hang with now, that he wasn't much of a father to them when they needed him, and that for them to show their appreciation to you (one time) would mean a LOT.

Then try to relax and have fun at family get togethers. Don't hide in a corner feeling sorry for yourself (not to imply you are - but that's sort of what your post implied) but get out there and make a concerted effort to enjoy yourself. Meet the 'regulars' and try to form you own friendships, since it appears they'll be around a while.

And (in the famous words of Mufassa) Remember who you are. YOU know what you did. The KIDS know what you sacrificed for them. Also know that everyone at those parties, whether they acknowledge it or not, knows that YOU are the man that raised those kids, and that if they turned out well, it's NO THANKS to Good Time Charlie. (My niece's StepDad is in exactly this same position. BIL claims the credit for his perfect daughter -- and she really is a gem -- but we all know StepDad did the real work, and value him highly for it.)

'StepDad' is not a demotion -- it's a technicality.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 10:24AM
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Your situation sounds exactly like the fears I have. My dh and I raise my 3 stepchildren without any help, child support, or visits with their mom. She is completely gone and has another man and 3 more kids. I always fear that one day the kids will grow up and in she will ride on her white horse and act like she has always been there for them and they will somehow forget their whole childhood and agree.

All you can do is give yourself time for your pitty party as sweeby said and then move on.

One thing their dad can not take away is all the memories you have from their childhood. They can not just insert their biodad into those memories, your the one in them. And when they have issues or dilemmas with their own kids whose actions do you think they will remember? YOURS!

Being a stepparent is one of the most thankless jobs. It sounds like you have done a wonderful job and have a lot to be proud of. Maybe you could just show your wife this post so she can see your feelings in print and see how everyone else sees them. Perhaps then it will put things into perspective for her and she will realize that your not attacking anyone, you are just hurt.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 12:18PM
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Great advice, Sweeby and Mom2emall!

Aubster - your post made me cry! Thank you for being honest with yourself about your feelings instead of trying to be macho and cover them up. It's refreshing, really, to see a man that has the guts to look at himself and accept responsibility. I'm sure all of the women on this forum would love for our men to do that.

Being a SP feels thankless.....but it's really not. See my DH has a DS who was mostly raised (after the age of 12) by his BM and SF. My DH knows that. And when he went to the graduation, DH felt so insecure about being there. I guess my point is that bio-dad knows who did all the hard work and is probably trying to compensate now. But he probably feels insecure around you because you did do all the hard work and all he has to offer is material crap.

So keep your head up and stay a part of the boys' lives. They need you to be there. I promise!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 12:44PM
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