When the Original Poster (OP) marries into a family with two adult stepdaughters, a mutual agreement sets her role as an “aunt” rather than a mother figure. However, tensions rise when OP showers her biological daughter with deeply personalized gifts steeped in family tradition. As OP attempts a grand gesture to level the playing field, the emotional tautness reaches a boiling point, culminating in a dramatic Thanksgiving showdown.
The Initial Introduction
OP meets her future husband, who has been divorced for six years with two daughters from his previous marriage. They fall in love and decide to marry. To set the boundaries, OP discusses her role with her future stepdaughters and their mother, Diane.
The Aunt Agreement
OP, her stepdaughters Lisa and Jane, and Diane agree that OP will serve as more of an “aunt” rather than a parental figure. This agreement shapes the dynamic between them. OP is okay with this arrangement.
The Wedding Roles
When Lisa and Jane eventually get married, they reiterate their desire for OP to act as a regular guest, not as a wedding party member. OP complies, reluctantly respecting their wishes even though she wishes she would have a special role to play on their big days.
New Names, Old Roles
Lisa and Jane have children who call OP “Grandma.” Despite this family title, the initial roles established between OP and her stepdaughters remain essentially unchanged. OP appreciates whatever affection she can receive from the women she views as daughters.
Over the years, OP and Diane become close friends. Despite their relationship, the dynamic with Lisa and Jane remains unaffected. They still see OP as a peripheral family member, not a motherly figure.
Ellen’s Pregnancy Revelation
OP’s biological daughter, Ellen, announces that she is pregnant and now engaged to her longtime boyfriend. Elation fills the family, and OP begins planning a baby/bridal shower for her daughter.
A Mother’s Traditional Gifts
OP gifts her daughter Ellen handmade items during the baby/bridal shower. These items include a baby outfit, a cross-stitched room sign, a veil, and a hand-stitched handkerchief—each infused with family tradition.
The Dinner Resentment
During a family dinner, Lisa voices her feeling of being left out due to the handmade gifts Ellen received. OP tries to explain that these are traditional gifts from her side of the family that were always meant to be given to her daughter.
The Wedding Day Journal
On Ellen’s wedding day, OP surprises her with a leather-bound journal filled with letters and milestones. The journal, initiated by OP’s mother, serves as a long-standing family tradition that she had planned for since Ellen was a little girl, just like her mother did for her.
Tradition Under Scrutiny
Lisa and Jane again express that they feel sidelined, this time by the emotional weight of the journal gift. OP reiterates that these are her family’s traditions that she didn’t want to impose on her stepdaughters because they already have a mother.
The Thanksgiving Solution
Wishing to make amends, OP decides to create similar leather-bound journals for all her grandchildren for Thanksgiving. It takes weeks of hard work and a significant financial investment.
Despite the effort, Lisa and Jane offer only tepid thanks when receiving the journals. Diane probes them, trying to understand their reserved reactions to their stepmother’s generous gifts, which required a labor of love.
The Forced Gifts Conundrum
Lisa and Jane explain that they find the journals to be “forced gifts,” triggering OP’s frustration. They had previously expressed their feelings of being left out but now reject the gesture meant to include them.
The Emotional Outburst
Fed up, OP confronts Lisa and Jane about their inconsistent behavior. She states that she’s done her best to respect their boundaries while also trying to include them when they showed interest, but she also has felt sidelined at times.
In a heated moment, OP asks Lisa and Jane to return the journals if they don’t appreciate them, declaring that she will no longer attempt to include them in her family’s traditions. After the outburst, OP begins to question her actions. Things have not gone as planned.
The family is left in a tense state, and OP is filled with doubt. While she has tried to balance respect and inclusion, it remains to be seen if the family can move forward without further complications.
Was The Woman’s Behavior Appropriate?
OP posts her story online for feedback and advice from the internet community. The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter.
One reader said, “All this is only coming up decades later because of jealousy. They watched somebody else get gifts they didn’t.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote, “They want the perks of her family traditions without having to do the emotional labor of seeing her as an extended mother. Makes no sense.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person stated, “They decided that they didn’t see you as a mother figure but as an aunt 26 years ago, they made their bed, so they get to lie in it.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another reader commented, “Diane should have stepped in and did the scolding because I’m sure she raised them to have better manners.”
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.