Almost on a frequent basis, I am asked "if I get along with my husband's first daughter," or "if I treat her well." What do I say? I can't claim perfect of a human being, or lest a good (new) mother. Let me try telling it this way.
Lekshey and I have lived together for the past seven years; I had met her when she was barely ten years old. But she was the first person I heard about when I was introduced to KP. Our common friend who took into his heart the stake of our relation said, "Karma has a seven year old daughter. I thought you must know this."
As I put down the phone, my first thoughts were not about "who" this Karma-guy was, but about his daughter. It was obvious that should I meet him, and if at all our rendezvous materialized, I may want to play honest from the beginning itself.
Here is what I thought: How is it possible that the daughter is with him? (Usual side of the story is the child/ern stick with the mother. Seven years? How is he taking care of her? At that time, although single, I had three kids under my care - my two nieces and nephew (who was little over one year). Hence my thought, "I have my nieces and nephew under my care even with their parents around the corner. But that girl..."
She was all smiles when I met her. Later she added, "I was so happy when I heard about you."
Lekshey's life story is little different from many stories. She stood the test of time, walked tough and came thus far. I can't say her life got any better after I took charge but we are doing fine. We sort out our differences, if any, and look ahead. As such, we haven't had our "clashing moment" so far - may be because we respect our spaces. My children are still with me - and not for a single moment have I thought/ treated her any different. She gets nothing extra, nothing less but the same treatment just like the rest. She is one of them.
I am sure people expected me to change after having a child of my mine (thanks to some gruelling stories). I suspected that, too. But no, nothing happened. In fact, Lolo is all the more blessed to have a bigger sister and calls out for her "Ana Lek-say" as a priority choice in any event. When Lolo is of the age to know the truth, we will tell her. This is to say Lekshey and I don't deny facts and truths, and this keeps us intact.
Back to the curiosity "if I treat her well", I say, "Nothing extra, nothing less." I don't have to feign my feelings just as much as she doesn't have to do it with hers. Lekshay will be an adult soon, so her choices are right in her hands. If one day she chooses to walk out of my life, she can. But as long as we are together, we will thread on in good faith of life. There is not going to be another side of the story. I can completely trust myself to see her as a human being, worthy of living a good life, and if I can be an agent, why not?
For that reason, I never call her my step-daughter, I rather say she is my Husband's first daughter. I take no offence when someone asks about us - if that person has patience to listen, I tell him/her exactly what I have written here. To that extend, I am mentally preparing to babysit all of my children, including those from Lekshey.
Would it be fair to love the father, but not his daughter? I am only human.