Wednesday, July 2, 2008

happy birthday, miss elissa

my relationship with my stepdaughter elissa is one of the two more difficult relationships i have with my children. (the other's with my son, jamie, whose behavior reminds me of his father more frequently than i care to remember him.)

in elissa's case, the lion's share of the fault - if there is one - lies in my opinion on her mother, who encouraged elissa to despise her father for no reason other than he chose not to remain married to her mother. on the other hand, i arrived with not just one rival, but four for her father's affections. never made to share anything, elissa was understandably puzzled when the demands on her father's heart quintupled. how could there possibly be enough left for her? the child's fear of abandonment coupled with the mother's need for revenge ignited a fire that i fear will continue to smolder long into elissa's adulthood.

or maybe not.

last night, she came over with two friends to celebrate her twenty-second birthday. over cake - an especially pretty cake in just her favorite flavor that caught my eye the other day at shaw's - she casually mentioned to her friends that "anne can talk to dead people."

i was tired. i really didn't want to be a party game. this sort of thing makes Beloved particularly uncomfortable - he always looks for the exits if the conversation takes a serious veer into the psychic. but her friends looked like sweet girls, girls who wanted to look a little tougher than they actually were - just like elissa. and there were so many bright young spirits around the one who looked at me with eyes as wide and liquid as bambi's.

well, whoever would've thought that, said Beloved, when they left two hours later. elissa spent two hours here on her birthday and most of them with YOU.

i guess stranger things have happened somewhere.

and furthermore the war must end. blessed be.


Walk in the Woods said...

Blessings. Blessings indeed. :)

Stacie said...

How cool. Maybe as Elissa grows up she will see the light.

SuzeesJubileeZ said...

What a wonderful story I believe as children mature they do mellow and whatever resentment they harbor abates. I am grateful that my 22 yr daughter is no longer the extremely willfull and argumentative teen she once was. I am enjoying your wise blog and share many of your interests.

Donna said...

As I have a step-daughter who is 26 and I recall her acting in such ways, although I'm not sure the reasons were the same, I can commiserate. But having special moments like that with the girl with surely touch her as much as they did you and Blessed.

I hope she remembers it and will cherish it.

slyboots2 said...

I am thrilled to hear such a marked lack of bitterness on your end. I was that unhappy step-daughter. Only in my world it hasn't ended particularly well over 20 years on. But I take great hope in the fact that it hasn't ended yet, either. So glad you shared this story! thank you.

annie kelleher said...

it helped enormously that i met her as an eight year old child - the same age i was when i was traumatized by my own parents' divorce. my father was the more nurturing of my parents as well but my stepfather is a wonderful guy too, and i have always felt loved and supported by both of the men in my life. i had a good role model as a stepparent, and i was also in therapy at the time following an abusive marriage, so my own healing always helped me see elissa as a child whose behavior and attitude were shaped deliberately by someone else. i also had a good role model in my own stepmother, who won me over by showing me how much she loved my father. i am not by any means a perfect stepparent but i did have good examples.