When this picture was taken (which was not 4 years ago, it was in 2011), my stepdaughter pictured on the far right was still very much in touch with her mother. As of now, she had not (really) spoken with her in 4 years. That is to say, she has seen her out of necessity due to her brother or sister, or been in touch with her if she had to ask her a question about something, but she severed a relationship with her 4 years ago, of her own volition. I raised my stepdaughter full time from the time she was 11 until she was 19, with only about a year and a half during that time span that we did a trial time that she lived with her mother. We retained custody, because, as we suspected, her mother couldn’t be trusted, and left the stable home she was living in to live with some other new boyfriend. And she wasn’t the one with a job, so she wasn’t the one supporting the children, so my stepdaughter moved back in with us. To say the least, her mother has been anything but to her. It seems like the main purpose she has served in her life has been to mess with her head and be a negative influence. She hasn’t provided her with much positive in her life and she would tell you the same thing. She and I had quite our share of issues when she lived with us. Many of them stemmed from her mother because of the lies her mother told her about me, how much her mother pitted us against each other and started putting her in the middle of all of the parents. As a very young stepparent I had a very hard time knowing how to deal with it and I fell prey to responding very poorly myself and putting things on my stepchildren that I shouldn’t have. I was 26 when I started raising and 11 and 14 year old. And I was a very broken child inside myself, moreso than I ever knew at the time. I hadn’t been able to heal my own wounds from my childhood yet, I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of it. There was no way I was equipped to be a stepparent in a difficult situation at that point. I did the best I could with what I had. My stepdaughter and I have been working things out now that she is 25 and she knows more about my situation and I have been able to see the fault of my ways and where I failed her. There was a time when she and I weren’t speaking at all for about a two year time period as well. It was right before she stopped speaking to her mother. It took us a pretty long time to get to where we are now after we started speaking again. We both built walls that were very high, but we slowly scaled each other’s walls to get to the other side. I don’t think she could astonish me anymore than she did a few weeks ago when she approached me with an idea she and her best friend had to take their moms to a mother’s day tea and she was trying to figure out dates with me and if that wasn’t going to work there was a floating lights festival she was looking in to as well. While she has always been good about celebrating Mother’s Day for and with me, getting me a card and a gift, the fact that she was actually trying to organize a special outing like this truly touched my heart in a way I just can’t explain. Ten years ago, I never thought she would think enough of me at any point in my life to do something like that for me of her own doing, and certainly not as early as 25. My heart is overwhelmed, and I can only hope and pray that the little one sitting between is in that picture will look at me at 25 in a similar light and forgive me for things I’ve done wrong and that she will see how hard I have tried. It is hard to remember that someday they will thank you for everything they hate you for when they are young, or everything they think is wrong with their life when they are young they will come to appreciate later. I can only hope that when I can eventually tell my little one some of my history, that she can understand a little more about me and who I am and why I do what I do and why I approach things as I do and I hope someday she will see that her life isn’t really as bad as she thinks it is right now.