I am feeling left out. I am feeling angry. I feel threatened. I feel like I am being replaced. I am feeling like I cannot have my dad to myself when she is around. Why can’t she just stop sitting next to my dad and holding his hand like they’re teenagers? I feel like he defends her when I try to talk to him about my feelings. Why does she think she can tell my dad what to do, how to feel, where he should go?
My mom has been gone almost three years. I felt sad she didn’t ever seem to like me very much, but my dad made up for it. My dad and I could talk, tell each other secret things, our feelings, our hurts and our joys. I am very close to him. My dad has had lady friends since mom died. He loves to dance and he’s had a couple close friends, one lady he felt love for, but then she broke up with him. I was happy my dad was trying to stay social and involved and healthy. Dad also has lady friends that he car pools with and a couple that call him and chat. I have had no issues with him enjoying the company of another female.
But now this particular woman comes into his life, a classmate that attended last year’s gathering. She and dad hit it off and began calling each other. It’s been about a year. She lives approximately 4 hours away. She calls him and gives him lots of attention. I can see dad loves this attention. They’ve been together perhaps a handful of times this past spring and summer. Her and I don’t know each other, we were together only once this spring at a graduation party. A couple days later after she returned to her home, my dad told me she said she didn’t think I was very friendly. I was shocked…we didn’t have the chance to talk, and besides, I was really uncomfortable because the two of them held hands the whole afternoon. I was also feeling confused, wondering just where this relationship was going. I guess I thought because of the distance, it would fizzle.
I felt my heart putting up a wall hearing those words from her through dad after a brief meeting at a family event. I felt if she was that quick to judge, perhaps there were other characteristics about her I might have issues with. I practice “no judgment”, it is completely unfair for me to use my paradigms and expectations to determine someone else’s worth. When one enters a new family, it is very wise to observe, practice good silence and good conversation, and observe more. I realized I felt very hurt by her assumptions and worse…..voicing them to my dad.
My dad recently had surgery and at first she wanted him to go to her home to recover for two weeks. Not talking to me, his primary caretaker, but trying to convince him of this idea. I became very upset and being respectful of my dad, told him “We’d just have to see”. I didn’t let on just how upset I was. Driving for 4+ hours two days after prostate surgery was not going to fly, the trip was out of the question, so she came here.….for two weeks.
I admit, I am struggling. I am a Christian woman, intelligent, responsible, a professional career woman, what is going on in my heart? As I reflected on this, I realized I feel no respect from her, no conscious effort to step back and observe the relationship between my dad and I. I’ve been my dad’s advocate and primary caregiver for over four years. I journal every doctor appointment and any issues he has at home. I know his medical history better than he does. Why is she behaving as if dad has no one to look after him?
It is my contention she is trying to control things. Maybe, maybe not….but that feeling is real. Even dad said she is a little “bossy”. When I went to visit the other day, she was sitting next to him and said, “We thought we’d have your dad come to my house this second week of recovery, but then we thought it might be too much of a drive.” I did not respond according to my emotions! Whoa…hold back, breathe first, then speak. However, I did say I would not have agreed to that as dad needs to stay near us and his doctors. Full recovery usually takes about three months. I couldn’t believe it…what was she thinking…and again, why would she try to do something like this and not speak with me about it first?
Yesterday I called him and she answered the phone. Again, I felt…why are you doing this? You are a guest. Dad should answer his phone! (Yep, I was feeling that jealousy thing again) Dad tells me there are no marriage possibilities for either of them. Neither wants to move. So….what is going to happen? If you are a part-time girlfriend, why are you trying to take over?
So, you may ask….what is my point in sharing this personal reflection and circumstance? I believe God gave me a nudge in the direction of how a daughter that is close to her dad feels when “the other woman” enters the picture. And what the other woman needs to do and not do when entering the picture.
I felt my dad’s friend should have avoided: Saying something negative after the first time we met, asking my dad to do things that are completely out of our normal realm, trying to take over his care and well-being, and making comments to me as if I weren’t doing a good job. The constant touching, hand-holding, closeness…it’s hard to understand when I don’t see a permanent “together” plan coming.
My “little girl” was definitely stomping and crying and having a fit. I imagine what I am sharing with you honestly and openly here would not be far off the mark for a young girl in junior high into adulthood to feel. I’m a grandma for goodness sake, and look what I am telling you about my hurt feelings!
Here are my thoughts regarding a new understanding of daughters who love their daddy and meeting or getting to know their potential stepmom. Take it slow. Slooooooow. Try to meet in a gathering rather than just the man and his children. It is easier when there is more action going on. Focus on the child/adult when you meet them and avoid intimate touching with their dad until the appropriate time and place. Get to know the daughter, go shopping, see a movie….get to know her. Speak encouragingly to her, support her role as a daughter. Be respectful of her dad rather than using love language too quickly. Write her a letter affirming how you feel about her, the love for her dad, and creating a new family (if things are serious).
When I met my husband, his daughter was eleven (his only child). She was twelve when we got married. I did what I believed to be all the right things prior to our wedding: Spent time alone with her, wrote her a letter, I didn’t act intimate or romantic with her dad…we barely held hands. We were both very conscious of her reactions and well-being. We laughed and included each other during outings.
The emotions I began this post with were real and raw. As an adult, I am now on the receiving end of a woman entering a romantic realm with my dad. I embraced these raw feelings and took each one and examined it. I have learned many things. I assure you, I’ve told my dad at 85, he has the right to make his own decisions about his social life. I shared I may not like them, but I would never say “no”…..I love my dad and I admit I am selfish for my time with him, whatever God deems that to be. I want my dad to be happy.
No matter how old we daughters get, our “little girl” is alive and well inside and she needs to be understood and loved. God bless us all!