Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Evil stepmother


Based on my personal life experiences, it's no surprise that fairy tales employ the plot device of the evil stepmother.  I have a stepmother, and if she's not exactly evil, she is certainly unpleasant and toxic.

My father has been remarried to my stepmother for over 25 years, and she and I have never been close.  We are just two VERY different people, and truth be told, I think she has always felt threatened by me.  My father and I were very close when they married (though less so now), and I think she was jealous of that.  Plus I have a very strong personality (like my father's), while she is more passive-aggressive.

Honestly, I could write a number of blog posts about the many problems and conflicts I've had with her over the years--and the conflicts I've had with my father that were really due more to her than to any problem with him per se--but it's not worth the effort and energy to put the words down on paper.  Suffice it to say, I don't like her much, and I believe the feeling is mutual.  We act like we like one another for my father's sake. . . but actually, we don't like each other.

At the moment, my father is in the hospital.  Sadly, this has become a not-infrequent occurrence of late.  For this particular admission, my stepmother had to call an ambulance in the early morning hours of Sunday because my father was too weak to stand or walk and had a high fever (103).

Yet although he was taken to the hospital in the early morning hours of Sunday and admitted almost immediately, she did not call either my sister or me to let us know he was in the hospital until after 7:00 p.m. their time the following evening. He had been in the hospital for over 36 hours before she let us know.  She claimed that he told her not to call us because they "didn't know anything" about what was going on with him and decided to wait until they could talk to his doctors on Monday.

She called me again yesterday evening with a brief update saying he was improving.  We talked for less than 10 minutes, during which time she mentioned that she had left the hospital at noon and gone home at my father's urging and that she had called him a few times over the course of the afternoon to check up on him.

On my way to work this morning, I called my father on his cell phone.  I figured since my stepmother told me last night that she had spoken to him a few times yesterday afternoon that he (1) had his phone, and (2) was able to talk on the phone.  She answered the phone instead of him.  I was initially surprised, as one is when someone else answers someone's cell phone, because you expect to reach the person you are calling directly.

I said good morning to her and then said I had hoped to talk to my father.  She responded "I'll see if he wants to talk to you."  There was a brief exchange between them, and then he came on the phone.

He and I spoke for 3-4 minutes, and then I told him I loved him and goodbye.  The phone was not immediately hung up, and I could overhear some of their conversation in the background.  She was obviously angry that I had called.  The first exchange I only caught bits and pieces, and then I distinctly heard her say "I won’t call her again unless it’s a dire emergency because she will just call you directly anyway.”

Oh, and I should mention here. . . back in November when my father was in the hospital, I called him one afternoon around 2:30 p.m., and I overheard her telling my father "she [meaning me] hasn't even bothered to call" (apparently because it was afternoon and I was just calling).  So apparently last time I was a b1tch for not calling and now I'm a b1tch for calling?

It's clear to me that it really wouldn't matter what I did: it would not be right in my stepmother's eyes because she dislikes me.  I really don't care about that because I have little regard for her or for her opinion.

I do care about my father, though, and it puts me a difficult situation to have to deal with her as the go-between who provides me with information when he is sick and/or in a weakened state.  (Normally when he is home and doing well, I just call him directly and talk to him and bypass her entirely.)

There is no solution to this situation, and it is one I have been living with for a long time.  It just sucks.


  1. I'm sorry, that's a difficult situation to be in. She sounds a bit like my mom. It's really hard being in a relationship with someone who just won't follow the basic rules of civilized behavior or behave like a reasonable human being. People often offer me "solutions" for dealing with my mother, all of which I know won't work because her behavior is completely irrational, so I just smile and nod. But it doesn't make it any easier!

    1. Thanks. For fear of hurting or alienating my father, I can't do the things I would normally do in a situation like this, like tell the person off or just cut them out of my life. It makes it really difficult for me.

  2. It sounds like you're doing all you can do, which is take care of yourself and try to ignore it as best as you can (though it is pretty aggressive and hard to ignore). I hope your father recovers soon.

  3. Ugh. Your stepmother sounds like a peach. She certainly does sound jealous. I can't believe she has held on to this jealousy for so long. Some people are just plain difficult and you honestly can do nothing to please them. She certainly sounds like one of those people. Your father is sick and having to deal with her on top of it must be extremely frustrating. I give you a lot of credit for remaining calm in this situation. I probably would have lost it by now...

    1. I would love nothing more than to have it out with her, but the negative ramifications for my father prevent me from doing so.

  4. Oy, I am so sorry that your dad is unwell and the your stepmother cannot put her personal feelings aside and foster the relationship you have with your father. It is pretty sad and pathetic that she is being selfish. I am sorry you have to deal with her. I hope your dad makes a speedy recovery and you can resume your ability to bypass her.

  5. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I just don't get people like this. I don't care how old the children are in a divorce/remarriage situation, the job of the step-parent is to help protect the parent-child relationship. She should get over herself!

  6. I am sorry you are in this situation, and I hope your father gets better soon, so that it's easier for you to contact him without having to go through her.

    I can relate some... I never met my MIL, but dh's father remarried about a year after the two of us got married. I appreciate that FIL has been well taken care of over the past 25+ years -- we have never had to worry whether he's being fed, getting his laundry done, going to see the dr, etc. etc. (and by "we" I mean not only me & dh but me & my SIL, who would probably have had to take over more of these duties in the absence of a wife...!). BUT. StepMIL is a drama queen, loves to nag FIL and expects us to take her side when they are arguing. Ummm, I don't think so.

  7. S, I'm really sorry about your father and that you have to go through this.

    As a step-mother myself, I've been thinking a lot about this lately. We are in a culture which usually pits us against each other. Sometimes it's deserved - sometimes it's not. Either way, it's unfortunate, sad and hard.

    As a step-mother, I'm learning that love and compassion go a really long way. It is a lesson I hope that my step-daughters realize as well, since we are all imperfect souls on the similar journey.

    Good luck and good job on turning the other cheek. You are a good woman and daughter for doing it. When the time is right - have that conversation. Just do it with love and compassion and all will be well.


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