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An angry child and a woman painting | Source: Shutterstock
An angry child and a woman painting | Source: Shutterstock

My Stepdaughter Demanded I Give Up My Hobby Because Her Mother Has the Same One

Prenesa Naidoo
May 16, 2024
01:45 P.M.

Following a notably peaceful divorce, David and Sasha moved on with their new partners. But despite the serenity of their split, their ten-year-old daughter, Emma, struggled. When she sees Vanessa, her stepmother, getting an opportunity that was taken away from her mother, Emma makes her voice heard.

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When I married David, I knew exactly what I was getting into. He had a ten-year-old daughter, Emma, who struggled with accepting me.

A bridal couple | Source: Unsplash

A bridal couple | Source: Unsplash

Despite their split being peaceful and needed, Emma just couldn't get past the fact that I was David's new wife. I didn't expect to be a mother figure to Emma. I could never do that to her or Sasha, her mother.

But I did hope that Emma would eventually grow to like me.

A mother carrying her daughter | Source: Pexels

A mother carrying her daughter | Source: Pexels

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"Just give it time, honey," David told me one day when I was shopping online and wanted to buy a few dresses for Emma.

"I know," I agreed. "There is no rush here, but at the same time, I want to get to know her. She's just not allowing it."

A person shopping online | Source: Pexels

A person shopping online | Source: Pexels

"The divorce has been good to Sasha and I, but Emma just isn't on board. I mean, some days, she's absolutely fine. But then there's other days where she's just very angry."

But it was more than that.

I knew that Emma hated that I painted, just like her mother.

A woman painting on a canvas | Source: Pexels

A woman painting on a canvas | Source: Pexels

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The morning my ten-year-old stepdaughter confronted me, I had just gotten to my studio. The studio was a converted garage that David had surprised me with when we had returned from our honeymoon to Paris.

"You deserve it, Vanessa," he said. "You need a place where you can just let loose, and this is it. This is your space."

An art studio | Source: Pexels

An art studio | Source: Pexels

I loved him for that gesture. It was everything to me, and it was also why he and Sasha were still good friends.

When they chose to end their marriage, it was based on the fact that they were compatible with each other; the romance had just died out.

A couple sitting on a couch | Source: Pexels

A couple sitting on a couch | Source: Pexels

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I had just set up my canvas and was ready to get my creative juices flowing.

I was on a tight deadline; there was an exhibit coming up and I needed to have eight pieces ready for it.

Just as I picked up my cup of tea, the studio door slammed open, and Emma stormed in, her eyes blazing with an angry mix of defiance and tears.

"Vanessa," she said, pouting. "You need to stop painting!"

A canvas on an easel | Source: Pexels

A canvas on an easel | Source: Pexels

Her entire energy was off, her small frame tense with anger.

"Darling, why? What happened?" I asked her.

"Because my mom paints, too, and you know that! And it's not fair! You got into the gallery and she didn't. I hate you!" she shouted.

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A close-up of an angry little girl | Source: Pexels

A close-up of an angry little girl | Source: Pexels

Her words tumbled out in a rush of raw emotion before she turned and faced the wall.

I wondered if she was going to throw a tantrum further and throw my paints around. I didn't know how I would react if she did that.

"What gallery, sweetheart?" I asked her as calmly as I could.

"The exhibit," she said. "Mom told me about it on the phone, and she sounded so sad."

Before I could say anything else, Emma turned and ran from the room, slamming the door behind her.

A woman holding a phone | Source: Pexels

A woman holding a phone | Source: Pexels

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I stood still for a moment, the sting of Emma's words cutting deep. I wanted to make her feel better, but I didn't want to overstep at all.

And then I knew exactly what to do. I reached for my phone and dialed Sasha's number.

Moments later, David walked into my studio, his face concerned.

"What happened?" he asked. "I just saw Emma run out, and she was crying. Is everything okay?"

A woman using her phone | Source: Unsplash

A woman using her phone | Source: Unsplash

I sighed. I didn't want to put David in a difficult position. I didn't want him to have to be caught in the middle of trying to defend his wife while still trying to counsel his child.

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It was important for him to be there for Emma. But we still needed her to understand that not everything was as it seemed.

I asked my husband to sit down, and I explained everything to him, his eyes widening as he tried to understand what had gone on.

A man sitting on a couch | Source: Unsplash

A man sitting on a couch | Source: Unsplash

"But I have an idea. I just need you to take Emma out for a while, and then take her back to Sasha's after."

If my husband was confused, he didn't show it. He nodded, kissed me, and walked out.

"I'll see you in a bit," he said. "I think I'll take Em for some waffles."

A man giving a forehead kiss | Source: Pexels

A man giving a forehead kiss | Source: Pexels

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I waited until I heard David's car leave the driveway, and then I made my own way out. I had thought about it, and I knew that the only way for Emma to see that I wasn't a threat or in any competition with her mother was if Sasha and I made her understand it together.

I picked up some art supplies before heading over to Sasha's house. I could have just taken my own, or used Sasha's for what I had planned, but I wanted Emma to see new things.

Different colored containers | Source: Unsplash

Different colored containers | Source: Unsplash

To signal a change in our lives.

When Emma stormed into her own home later that day, she was shocked to find Sasha and I sitting together in the living room, a pot of tea and scones between us.

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I could see Emma's heart racing. My stepdaughter probably thought that she was going to get a scolding from her mother. I understood that; it looked like I had gone over to Sasha to complain.

Scones and jam | Source: Unsplash

Scones and jam | Source: Unsplash

Instead, Sasha beckoned Emma over with a gentle smile.

"Come here, honey," she said. "Have a scone. We have some things to talk about."

Emma hesitated, her eyes darting between us. She put the books she was carrying onto the coffee table.

"Am I in trouble?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.

A little girl carrying books | Source: Pexels

A little girl carrying books | Source: Pexels

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Sasha and I shook our heads together. Sasha beamed at her.

"No, sweetie," she said. "We just want to understand why you're so upset. Help us understand."

Emma took a seat between us and sighed.

"It's just that, you love painting so much, Mom. And now, Vanessa's doing it, too. And she got into the exhibition that you wanted to get into. You work hard, too. It's not fair."

A smiling woman | Source: Pexels

A smiling woman | Source: Pexels

Sasha sighed.

"I know it feels unfair, Em," she said, picking up her cup. "But art isn't about competition. It's about expression and joy."

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"So why did Vanessa get in and not you?" Emma asked, helping herself to a scone.

"Because Vanessa's work just spoke to them more. It happens," Sasha said.

I nodded, meeting Emma's eyes.

A smiling woman | Source: Unsplash

A smiling woman | Source: Unsplash

"I never wanted to take anything away from you and your mom," I said. "In fact, I admire her work a lot. How about we all create something together? A piece for the exhibition?"

Emma looked between Sasha and me, a smile slowly creeping across her face.

"Can we?" she asked.

"Yes," Sasha said. "Art is something beautiful and personal, and it can bring people together."

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At that moment, David walked in carrying bags of takeout.

A bag with takeout | Source: Unsplash

A bag with takeout | Source: Unsplash

"Let's eat," he said, smiling at Emma.

But the idea had taken root, and over the following weeks, we transformed a blank canvas into a symbol of our new beginning. With Sasha's expertise guiding us, my innovative techniques, and Emma's burgeoning talent, we crafted a masterpiece that blended our unique perspectives and styles.

A little girl doing art | Source: Pexels

A little girl doing art | Source: Pexels

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When it was time for the gallery to debut the exhibit, we all got dressed up.

"This is a big deal, honey," David told me as he got dressed. "For you, of course, but also for Sasha and Emma. I'm so grateful that you included them in this project."

A man putting on his shoes | Source: Pexels

A man putting on his shoes | Source: Pexels

At the exhibition, our artwork drew a crowd, not only for its beauty but for the story it represented—the story of a family pieced together with care, patience, and understanding.

"Thank you," Emma said to me, sliding her hand into mine.

"You're most welcome, sweetheart," I said, squeezing her hand.

A mother and daughter | Source: Pexels

A mother and daughter | Source: Pexels

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What would you have done?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you |

When Eleanor finally becomes a grandmother, she feels accomplished in her role as a doting woman who will be at her granddaughter's beck and call. She watches Lily grow from a baby to a fiercely independent toddler. But one day, when Eleanor goes to fetch Lily from daycare, she is surprised at the scene unfolding before her eyes — complete with crowds of parents, a news broadcast, and police officers.

Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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