What It Feels Like...To Have A Step Mum The Same Age As You

Catriona Innes

Have you ever wondered what it would be like for your dad to date someone your age? Here are all the answers...



My dad was very lonely before he met Joanna. So, eight years ago, when he phoned to tell me he had met someone, I was more than ready to like her. That was until he said she had just turned 25. I was 24 at the time.

‘He’s so happy,’ I told myself over and over again, trying to ignore the sick, sinking feeling in my stomach. ‘Age is just a number.’ But while I know that’s true, and my dad’s happiness is the most important thing, it was hard to cope with. And it still is.

The thing is, it does make sense. My dad’s 58 now, but he’s always been young at heart. Whenever I spend time with him, we’re down the pub or having a laugh with my friends, so 
I guess I can’t imagine him with 
a woman his own age.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t deal with him seeing Joanna either. The first time I visited the house while they were dating, she was in the kitchen and didn’t come out to say hi. Maybe she assumed that because of her age, 
I simply wouldn’t like her. To be fair to her, when we did meet, I struggled 
to make eye contact, and it’s been like that ever since. I’ve really tried – there have been awkward coffees, attempts at bonding over mutual TV shows, shopping trips… yet I still find her to be as rude and cold as she was to me the first day we met. Mostly, it’s a personality clash – she’s very sensible and corporate, whereas I struggle to take anything seriously – but the age thing doesn’t help. She’s quite patronising, which I think is a way of showing her authority. It’s like she’s trying to deflect from the fact that we’re both 33.

Dad doesn’t see it, and I haven’t told him how I feel. We used to be close, but I find it hard to spend time with him when Joanna is there, so our relationship is more distant than it once was. It may sound like I’m jealous, but I’m really not. Ever since Mum left Dad 10 years ago, my younger sister and I have worried about him being alone, so I know my feelings are specific to Joanna. It doesn’t help that for someone who prides herself on being very ‘mature’ for her age, she’s incredibly fixated on sex. She once told me she has a Brazilian, because it drives Dad wild, and she even complained that sometimes their love life suffers because of his age. I had to tell her to shut up. 

It got worse when they married two years ago. It was an extravagant affair, and I stood there in my bridesmaid dress, desperately trying to pretend that I approved. No expense was spared, and I got it: for Joanna, it was her first wedding and she wanted the fairy tale. I spent the day thinking about how it looked to outsiders. You know, new young wife, expensive wedding… However, it’s not like that. I might dislike Joanna, but she loves Dad and isn’t with him for his money.

And that’s the real problem. Joanna has given up so much for him. Dad doesn’t want more kids, and she says she’s fine with that, but I know that minds can change. I’ve seen it happen to so many of my friends. They all said they didn’t want to have children, and then they edged later into their thirties, and suddenly out popped 2.4 kids. I say I don’t want to be a mum, but I don’t think I can be 100 per cent sure until I’m a bit older.

The heartache it would cause my dad if Joanna left him terrifies me. Perhaps that’s why I can never really embrace her. I know how careless my friends and I can be with other people’s hearts, how many mistakes we make. I don’t want Joanna to make one with my dad that means he’s on his own. Again.

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