Do Not Call Me Stepdaughter
Four years ago, I became a stepdad.
I was nervous because you hear, read, and see all the horror stories about step-families. I was not a new dad, I have four beautiful children from my first marriage, and I love being a dad, and being a dad is the best thing I have ever done in my life.
When I realized that I would become a stepdad, I was scared. When you have your own kids, they do not know anything else, especially at a young age. But step-kids do not know you, you are the outsider coming in to disrupt their lives, and you are the enemy.
I did a lot of reading when I first realized that I was becoming a stepdad. I knew that their lives would be in turmoil and wanted to help make their transition as easy as possible. I read numerous articles and books on the best way to handle the blending of a family, and honestly that none of them prepared me for what was in store.
My new wife has three children, two boys, and a girl.
When we married, they were little, the oldest boy was eight years old, the youngest was four months old, and my stepdaughter was just three years old. She is the one I will be writing about today.
When Daiana came into my life four years ago, she was this cute little girl with big brown eyes. She could melt anyone’s heart with a smile and a flash of those pretty eyes. And she knew how cute she was.
She also knew that I was the devil.
In the beginning, I never got to see that smile, never got the cute looks and flashing big brown eyes. She never even spoke with me. If I asked her anything, told her anything, I would only get a scream. It was not a familiar kid scream. It was a scream reserved for chasing out the most horrible demons ever imagined. A weapon so powerful that if Napoleon had it, there never would have been a defeat at Waterloo.
Besides the things you would expect with a newly blended family, we also had to overcome a language barrier.
Daiana would only speak Spanish, and my Spanish was no Bueno. Luckily, she did understand English, so she knew what I was saying when I talked to her. She was also a big-time daddy’s girl with her biological father. I realized that she was going through so much, and being so young; she had no other way to express herself or control her feelings. I knew I had to be patient, and I was. She was going through so much, her entire world had changed, and it was a change she did not want. She would scream at me, and I would calmly say that it is not how to behave. We would go shopping, her riding in the cart, scowling and screaming her displeasure at me, and I would continue as if nothing were happening.
Her anger was not only focused on me.
She would do the same thing to her mom, for she was the one that brought this evilness into her home. I remember one occasion Daiana was so angry, she was just four at the time, she went into her room and threw everything around her room, and I mean everything, while screaming. Mom did not say anything while this was going on, I would go back and look and report back how much she was destroying the room, but mom sat there patiently. When Daiana finally finished, I think she had gone on for almost an hour, mom walked back and talked to her, quietly, and together they cleaned up the mess.
Daiana’s rejection of me also took a toll on our marriage.
I know my wife had doubts about staying with me because of the reaction and dislike Daiana had towards me. We had countless conversations about our concerns and worries, was it right to stay together because of the stress it was putting on Daiana. It had been several months, and there was no sign of improvement when Daiana said her first words to me. Even though those words were, “you’re not my daddy!!!” there was a progression.
I continued being as patient as possible.
It wasn’t easy, and I was not always successful. When mom would work, Daiana would usually stay with a sitter, and I would have the boys. I told my wife that it was unnecessary, and it would be alright if she stayed with me. The first time I had Daiana with me was not so terrible. She still scowled with an angry go away look. At least there was no screaming, no yelling, and no destroying of her room. She would always get furious and yell, but I ignored it as best I could. I remember once telling her she can be mad and yell at me as much as she wanted to, but I was not going away and would be there for her whenever she was ready.
As time progressed, things became better.
We slowly transitioned from world war three to a cold war. I would still hear you are not my daddy from her quite often but mixed in with some smiles and laughter. I can remember the first time she smiled and was friendly towards me, her mom was there, and we just looked at each other, shocked and wondering what that was. We slowly progressed, and I stayed on the same course. I took them to parks, dropped her off to school, played, tucked them in bed, and was there whenever she needed. I slowly evolved in her eyes from the evil demon intruder to stepdad and a wanted part of her life. My patience had paid off, and with each milestone that we crossed, from the first kind words and smile to the first big hug, my heart would warm with pride in my little girl.
Watching my children grow has always been one of the happiest parts of my life, to see their successes and failures and experience them together. Watching your stepchildren not only succeed but become part of you is equally as memorable and rewarding.
We recently celebrated Daiana’s eighth birthday, and because of the COVID mess, we were not able to have a party for her.
She decided she wanted to go to a restaurant, and the one she decided on was where I took her mom for our first date. We had a fabulous time together, even though the service was so bad I had to talk to the manager. I told him that we had come there for my stepdaughters’ birthday and why we were unhappy. After speaking with him, my wife and Daiana looked at me strangely, almost upset. My wife said, “why did you call her your stepdaughter?” I replied, because she is my stepdaughter. Daiana looked at me with a serious look and firmly told me, “You’re not my stepdad. You’re my daddy!”
I did not know what to say and think I replied with a simple “ok.” I was trying to comprehend what she had just said. Did I hear what I thought I did? My relationship with my daughter has grown farther and more profound than I could have ever imagined.
I am proud of her, how much she has grown, and for showing me that patience, understanding, and love will reap the rewards beyond imagination.