My Dad gets married tomorrow.
I’m not entirely sure how old I was when my parents seperated; it was that long ago. I think I was either 4 or 5. I think they divorced when I was 13. In other words, for the majority of my life I’ve been the child of seperated parents. There was never an option or inclination that my parents would get back together and I never thought they would.
I’m ashamed to admit that I was not happy when my Dad got engaged. First of all I’d never met his fiancée and I didn’t know her name. I didn’t know anything about her. I still think I’m slightly justified in being upset that my Dad would opt to spend the rest of his life with someone that his children hadn’t met or knew existed. I felt that this woman was obviously very important to my Dad but not important enough to introduce her to his children and that his children weren’t important enough to be introduced to her. I still don’t know why Dad got engaged without introducing us first but that was 2 years ago now so there’s no point dwelling on it.
I’m lucky in that I’m very close to my Mum and my Dad. I can talk to them about anything and I’ve inherited so much from them. Since they seperated it was always been just them and my sisters. My sisters are quite a bit older than me so it was often just me and Mum or just me and Dad so when Dad got engaged I immediately realised that it wouldn’t be just me and Dad anymore. It was now going to be me, Dad and Margaret, his fiancée.
I was 21 but it was like I suddenly because a child again. At this point I was almost finished in college and had my own life so I didn’t see Dad very often but that didn’t mean I was happy to share him. I don’t know what I was thinking and I am ashamed of how childish I acted in response to Dad getting engaged. I think I always assumed my parents would never remarry so I never thought about how I would feel when they did.
I have since met Margaret and can see how happy her and Dad are together and I am happy for both of them. They get along so well and my Dad is a completely different, happier person. I think it’s great that they have found each other and are ready to start a new life together.
While I’m completely happy for Dad and Margaret I still find somethings a bit weird. Before I had a Mum, a Dad and two sisters. Now I have a Mum, a Dad, two sisters, a Step-Mum, 3 step-sisters, a step-brother and numerous step-nieces and nephews. I know I probably won’t have much day to day interactions with my new ‘family’ but we’re permanently linked. My Dad is quite close to all of his step-children which is great but where do my sisters and I fit? Should we have an automatic bond because our parents are married? Should I feel automatically proud or protective of their children because they’re my step-nieces and nephews?
That’s probably a bit extreme but I feel like I should feel something towards my new siblings. I don’t want to think of them as ‘the children of my Dad’s wife’. I feel like I should have some connection with them.
I’m also torn about how to refer to them. My Uncle is adamant that there should be no reference to ‘step-’, i.e., Step-Mum or Step-Sister. He thinks I should refer to Margaret as ‘Dad’s wife’ and her children as ‘my Dad’s wife’s children’. To me this seems a little cold but I think saying ‘step-sister’ implies a relationship or connection where there isn’t one. I really like Margaret’s children and we get along well but they’re much older than me and have their own lives so I wouldn’t call them for a chat or call around for a cup of tea so it’s not like we’re close.
This is all unchartered territory for me and I’m probably overthinking it all. Maybe everything will come naturally with time and maybe we’ll continue our lives as we have before.