At the ripe age of 5-years-old, I announced to my mother that I would never birth my own children. Fast forward thirty-nine years and turns out, I was right. This year would have been my tenth year being the stepmother to Lyle, Mariam and Katherine. Unfortunately, despite my husband and I fighting with everything we had, our family didn’t survive parental alienation. I feel gipped.
When I became a stepmother, I was all in. School events, homework, bath time, baking, never missing a single performance. When I signed up, I took it seriously. My life revolved around my husband’s children. I wanted them to just be kids. Hikes, games, crafts, baking and playing in the creek were the expectations. Home-cooked meals and lots of desserts were a must. Most nights we wrapped up with a dog pile on the couch watching a favorite movie. Innocent fun. Laughter. Being kids.
I thought that if I put out maximum effort, everything would be okay. We’d all eventually get along, and his ex-wife would get over it. I look back now and laugh. How naïve I was! I had absolutely no idea how hard loving someone else’s children would be. Nor did I know the toll that fighting an angry, manipulative ex-wife in court would take. I simply believed that if they saw how much I loved them and provided for them, they would grow to love me too. I was wrong.
I envy families that are intact. Whether blended or not. I find myself wallowing in deep caverns of sadness after being around a healthy, happy family. That’s all I ever wanted for us. I never wanted to take their mother’s place. I never wanted to step on anyone’s toes. I simply wanted to be included. I wanted to watch them grow into amazing humans and become productive members of society.
Instead, after giving up almost 10 years of my life, not birthing my own children and sacrificing endlessly for kids that weren’t mine, I’m left with empty bedrooms, zero communication and photo albums of a time that now seems non-existent. As if that wasn’t painful enough, the last insult by the kids was conspiring with their mother to try to have us charged with 27 counts of child abuse. The betrayal has been overwhelming.
So, here we are trying to find a new normal. We should be planning senior pictures, senior prom and everything in between. Instead, I’m sitting on Mariam’s bed, writing to senators and representatives about parental alienation and its impact on families like ours. I’m writing a blog about parental alienation and what it looks like in everyday life. I’m talking to anyone who will listen about parental alienation and how it is most definitely a form of child abuse.
Jack and I are finally getting to know each other without a vindictive ex-wife as the third person in our marriage. And we’re making our way through grief one day at a time. We know they aren’t deceased, but the children we knew and loved and laughed within our home are gone forever. She made sure of that.
*Names have been changed.