*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a close relationship with your parents as you grow up is based on memories, trips, sharing fun times, and always knowing they will be there for you.
And if time passed and you got used to being the only child, how would you react to finding out your mom wants to get married again and make your family bigger?
Would you be excited to have siblings or feel left out because suddenly you won't have all the attention you're used to?
My friend Diane, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, is in her first year of high school. She's been living with her mom since her dad passed away, and they looked out for each other for the past 11 years.
"It was always just the two of us, and I liked it that way. I did my part of the chores and learned how to cook from mom. My friends had a dad to play and have fun with, but mom was great. I think our relationship stayed so positive because she had no problem being a single mom for so long," Diane said.
Angela, Diane's mom, got married in high school, and she lost her husband, Steve, just two years later. She decided to wait to date again until her daughter was grown up, but she still wanted to be happy and find the right partner.
"It's not that I was worried about dating or anything. But I didn't think it was ok to add a stepdad to our family while Diane was just a toddler. And I wasn't in a rush anyway. Finding someone willing to commit who wouldn't mind that I was already a mom isn't easy anyway. So, I felt like waiting was my best option for a while," Angela said.
Angela put off dating even if her parents advised her to try again while she was younger. The mom kept working hard, and she had her friends helping to look after her daughter. She also hired a babysitter, and her mom came over every afternoon to make sure everything was ok.
"I could keep my job in Phoenix and earn enough with the help I had. I did consider what it would be like to be married and have someone else supporting me, but it wasn't the right time. And my daughter would have been confused to see another dad so soon," Angela said.
As the years went by and Diane went to kindergarten, started school, and then got to high school, Angela began considering another relationship.
Eight months ago, she met Dan at a charity event in Phoenix. They spent the evening talking, and she gave him her phone number before leaving.
"We got along great, and I wanted to know more about him. He was interested in me, too, and said he would give me a call the following day. And he did, at 6 a.m. I was excited that he didn't want to wait more than a few hours to get in touch. And he said he missed me too," Angela added.
Dan called and texted her daily for three weeks, and then he asked her out on a date. They had dinner in Phoenix and found out more about each other's relationship goals.
"He didn't have kids, but he was ok with being a stepdad. And he wanted a long-term relationship, not just a few dates and to have a good time," Alicia said.
They kept dating for one month until she was ready to introduce Dan to her daughter. The first meeting didn't go that well, with Diane doing all she could to avoid Dan.
"She wasn't rude or anything. But she kept trying to avoid talking to him at all. And then she said she had to study and went to her room," Angela said.
After that first time when she got to meet Dan, Diane always found reasons not to be home when she knew he'd be coming. She had sleepovers a lot more often than usual or said she had to study for school projects.
And when she couldn't avoid being in the same room with Dan, she rarely answered his questions. They all had meals together during the weekends, but she was quiet then too. Angela didn't think it meant her daughter disapproved of her relationship. She just felt Diane needed more time to adjust to how things were.
"She had to get used to someone new in my life, and that wasn't easy. I didn't expect it to go too fast either," Angela said.
After six months, the mom let her daughter know that she and Dan had gotten engaged. The proposal took place in a restaurant in Phoenix over dinner, and Angela showed her daughter the ring. Unfortunately, Diane didn't feel like congratulating her mom, and she still avoided Dan when he came by the following evening.
The couple decided to let her accept the situation slowly instead of pressing the issue. However, things changed suddenly when Angela found out last weekend that she was pregnant.
"I was surprised, but I felt happy. And Dan got so excited when I called to tell him. I didn't realize how much I wanted to be a mom again. We're going to have to hurry up with the wedding now, but the reason for it is just great," Angela said.
While she and Dan are busy with wedding planning and thinking about being parents, Diane feels upset and left out. And she doesn't feel like having a brother or a sister at all.
"Mom wants more kids; I don't need brothers or a stepdad. But now that she's pregnant, I'll have no choice and have to babysit too. I can't wait to leave home and rent another place. I think mom wants me out of her life. That's why she brought Dan over. Why would I need a stepdad at this age? It's all for her," Diane said.
Angela knows her daughter isn't looking forward to having siblings, but she's sure she will change her mind eventually. And she's also willing to help her move with her friends if that's what she wants.
"I think we should have an open relationship. And if she wants to live somewhere else, I have nothing against that. Se can work part-time too. It will teach her some responsibility," Angela said.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Diane to refuse to be a part of her mom's relationship and not congratulate her on her pregnancy? Should Diane try to be more flexible and get to know Dan since he will be her stepdad very soon?