A letter to my stepchild
Today you had a conversation with your father about bringing up Little and your role in her education and I am not sure if you realise that I had overheard the entire thing, or if you did, whether you cared or not. The thing is that I did and I do.
I have never been more hurt by you in the entire time that I have known you, Big.
I made a decision when I started being with your father to dedicate my time and my life to this house, and to you and Little. It meant an indirect decision to put a pause in pursuing my career. I made a decision to be a constant presence in your and Little’s lives. I made a decision to wake up at any time in the night when Little calls for me. I made a decision to put up with the good, bad and ugly of the both of you and not just press “quit” and push either of you away when it gets too much, like children do with old dolls. That is what it means to be to be a parent. It means to be there constantly and to be stable and to be consistent in what is okay and what is not.
They were all insanely difficult decisions to make that have all impacted my life irrevocably and forever. It meant spending differently. I meant handling my finances totally differently because now I am participating in a household budget that is HUGE. It meant giving up the concept of weekends. It meant giving up on regularly seeing my own parents back home. It meant that time and space that I used to have for myself is a luxury. It meant changing my entire schedule that I have kept for most of my adult life to revolving around your school days and hours. It meant redefining the entire concept of privacy.
Do you know what that means, Big? I mean, do you actually know truly in your heart?
But in the end I made that decision willingly and gladly because you and your family are worth it. It led to long discussions with your father about what that would mean and what my role would be. I was hesitant of accepting their invitation not only because of the obvious legal ramifications (which we were dealing with in court with your own mother), but also because both you and Little have your own biological mothers and your own set of rules that I have to contend with.
I am telling you all of this because I feel like you deserve to know. I am not asking for your pity or for you to acknowledge my burden as these were all my decisions I made consciously. We all live with the consequences of our choices (as you once said so eloquently to me on the subject of your father). The way you use the relationship that I have with your father as a bargaining chip in your discussions with your father as a way to hurt him hurts me directly, Big. They hurt me and insult the way I have chosen to conduct my life.
You are right that you never had a say in whether I can (and should) be in this household and whether I get to have a say in raising Little or not. You are absolutely right. Let’s leave aside the fact that I think that you forget that you are your father’s child and always will be, which means that you are not his equal nor are you mine. Let’s not forget that have an age difference that accounts for a vast gap in life experience, knowledge and accountability. Let’s leave aside the fact that I truly believe that if an older child were enlisted to participate in the household and in the education of a younger child, then his or her role would be to help enforce the existing rules in the family and not to start changing them or starting new ones. That is not the role of the child. It is also not the role of the child to sneakily or passive aggressively “ignore” or “change” the rules when they want to or when they think “it is right”. Running a family is not a democratic procedure. However, it is clear to me that you see things differently and I am not here to debate about that right now in this letter to you.
I am formally asking you right now via this letter whether or not I am welcome in this household. This is a legitimate question and I expect an honest answer. If your answer is no, then I will talk to your father and talk about how I can continue being with him without 1) living in this house and 2) participating any longer in this household. If your answer is yes, then I would like you actually accept me as a figure in this household and to no longer bring up the polyamorous beginnings of my and your father’s relationship, or any part of our relationship, in your discussions with him ever again.
Yours (if you will have me),