My house wasn’t new or huge, but it was a home. It was where we ate dinner with our mom every night. We colored Easter eggs at the kitchen table and had Christmas morning in the living room every year. We had sleepovers in sleeping bags on the living room floor. My room was pink and right next to my brother’s. We had a swingset in the backyard where we would spend hours. There was a basketball hoop and sidewalk chalk rainbows all over the driveway. I never complained about my house, it was everything it needed to be. It was a home.
After living with my dad and brother for 4 years, we shared an almost inseparable bond. I very rarely liked to go to sleepovers simply because I wanted to spend as much time as I could at home with my dad. Between school and his work schedule, it was important to me to spend as much time with him as possible. Everything from going grocery shopping each weekend to watching America’s Got Talent on the couch together each week; it all meant so much. After losing one parent, it’s hard not to grow an attachment to the other in fear of losing them too. You look at everyday as though it may be the last. This concept should be the least of any 12 year old’s worries, but you’re forced to understand how quickly everything can be taken away. At 12 years old, I loved being at home with my family.
Although, eventually, I needed someone to talk to about boys, hair, and periods, all the normal teenage things. After years of having a boy brush my hair and a boy helping me with outfits, I needed some girly expertise in my life. I often wished for a mother figure in my life again, but I was still always grateful for everything my dad did for me. Not too many girls can say their dad painted their nails each week and tried to learn how to french braid for them. My dad tried so hard to play a mom and dad role for me. And I am still grateful for that.
Although I spent plenty of time imagining having a mother figure in my life, I had never really thought about my dad dating again. I guess it crossed my mind a few times, but it never seemed realistic. We all seemed so happy, and at such a young age I just didn’t realize that my dad needed some sort of affection or love from anyone other than my brother and I.
At first, having a new family was pretty exciting. New younger sisters to play with, a new mother figure to talk to, another annoying brother to protect me; it all felt right. But that excitement didn’t last long. Everything happened so quick. We had to give up our bedrooms and our things to accommodate them. I was bribed into giving a 4 year old my new tv and 4 years later still haven’t gotten my end of that deal. I got a new room designed just the way I wanted it. But, it wasn’t purple with pink doors and it wasn’t right next to my brother’s and across from the bathroom. It wasn’t my room.
After losing a parent at such a young age, my family always found it very important to keep her around in little ways. We always celebrated her birthday, visited the cemetery on her death anniversary, we had pictures up and we didn’t change much of the house since she had died. We painted some rooms and bought a few new things like curtains and a couch, but it still looked like our home. But very quickly everything that had any relation to our mom was torn from the walls and thrown into the attic. We had all new furniture and decorations and paint. It was almost like a new house; it wasn’t home anymore.
My father was always very involved with my mother’s side of the family even after my parents separated when I was very young. My dad brought his fiancee to one Christmas with my mom’s family and she felt “too uncomfortable” and he hasn’t been back in probably 4 years.
It wasn’t long before I barely even knew my dad either. When he wasn’t at work, he was out with her. It took a while before I even realized it, but my dad knew nothing about me. He would always help the twins with their homework and tuck them into bed, but it was too much to ask how my day went. They have dinner together and talk about their days while I feed myself and eat alone two hours later. We all live under the same roof, but we barely know each other. These people don’t feel like home.
It’s never been about anyone but her. They go on vacations with her kids and they bring her kids to the movies and on day trips, but asking my dad to visit a college with me is unreasonable. Her kids get whatever they want, whenever they want it, and I’m selfish if I ask for shampoo. She buys her kids cookies and snacks and whatever food they want, but I’m supposed to provide myself with food because “I’m 17 and have a job.” Her son is allowed to smoke and sneak out every night and never get scolded, but I’m grounded if I’m home at 10:04 with a 10pm curfew. I’m a 17 year old with social media who posts about being frustrated with this family, but it’s okay for her to block me and post whatever she wants about me like a teenager. This isn’t a family.
This year has been the hardest year of high school and I wish more than anything that my family wasn’t a huge cause of that. I wish that in my last year here, I didn’t feel like an alien in my own house. I wish there wasn’t awkward tension or sudden silence anytime I walked into a room. I wish I wasn’t treated like I was a bother by my parents. I wish I could talk to my dad for more than 5 minutes without feeling like an inconvenience. I wish this was an actual family. I wish this was my home again. But it’s just a house with people I barely even know.