DH and I got married in April. He had 3 boys, I had 2, and I was pregnant with our daughter. It's been a busy year.
Right around the time we got married, my ex divorced his wife. She was the one he left me for and she had been my boys' stepmom for three years. They also had a stepbrother with her.
I don't agree with the way my ex handled it, but that's no great surprise, really. He didn't tell the boys anything. He came to pick them up one weekend and told them that they were going to Grandmama's this weekend and Kate wouldn't be there. His new girlfriend was there. And they decided to tell them that his new girlfriend also happens to be his first ex-wife...he was married to her before he was married to me. Jerry Springer much? So just in case all that's not clear, he was cheating on his current wife with his ex-wife. they both left their current spouses, and moved in together. He didn't think it was important to explain to the boys that he was divorcing their stepmother of three years, but he wanted to be honest with them and let them know that he's now back together with the woman he was married to before me (for the record, they were divorced for 3 years before he met me!) Oh and I shouldn't be worried about that situation because they're not getting married or rushing into anything stupid...but the very next weekend he announced that they're living together and when he visited the boys a week after that, they came home talking about taking wedding pictures. Glad they're taking their time.
So I've spent the last 4 years trying to convince my now-8-year-old that divorce is permanent. When you get divorced, you don't suddenly say sorry and get back together. You don't forgive each other and get over it. When you're divorced, it's forever. Of course, marriage is supposed to be forever, but I guess that's different. And maybe sometimes divorce is different too. But maybe only for the kind of guy and girl who cheat on each other and get divorced and then cheat on the people they cheated with and then cheat on the people they cheated with again and then... yeah, he's only 8...it's a lot to process.
I knew this was going to be a lot for him. He's very sensitive and 'spirited' and doesn't really do change well. He's been the man of the house for a while. We left our house, left his school, left all his friends to move in with my husband. Instead of being the oldest, he's now the middle of five (until baby made 6). Instead of being the man of the house, he's got a very strong stepfather and three very strong stepbrothers. Instead of my rules and routines, everything's different now. And that's just at our house...nevermind what's going on at Dad's! On top of all that, even though he's only 8, apparently his hormones are firing up already. He showed me the other day that he's growing pubic hair already!
Well, it's been 6 months and it has been hard, but I thought we were doing ok. Some days I even thought he was doing better. But suddenly, everything seems to have come crashing down. He's been lashing out and throwing temper tantrums and talking back and lying. He's getting in trouble at school. His teacher sent me an e-mail yesterday and said that while she knows he's smart, he's just refusing to do his work or rushing through it and not doing a good job and he's in danger of failing third grade because of it. On a good day, he just daydreams and plays and doesn't get his work done but he doesn't disrupt anyone else. On a bad day, he's loud and disruptive and destroying things (cutting or tearing paper, breaking pencils, picking apart erasers, etc.) We suspected a couple of weeks ago that he had taken some toys from one of his step-brothers' rooms. I defended him and told everyone he didn't do it. A few days later, he took money from another stepbrother and then apparently took some earrings from a store. He's lied to me about that for almost two weeks. I finally figured out yesterday where they had to have come from and confronted him with it. He very nonchalantly said that he found them in the parking lot at the store. I want to believe him but I can't. Last night, we had to take the door off his bedroom because he kept slamming it and kept locking himself in there. He's had no privileges at all at home for the past two weeks because I told him he had nothing until he told me the truth about the earrings. It hasn't bothered him though...he's fooled around about his homework until bedtime. Last night he still didn't finish his homework...I just put him to bed when I couldn't take any more. At this point, I have nothing to threaten him with or bribe or bargain with. He's got nothing to lose and no reason to do right. He's miserable and he's going to make sure everyone else is too.
I've tried talking to him about all that's going on and all he'll say is that he doesn't want to live here. If I want to be married, I should let him move in with his dad or his grandparents (nevermind that his dad doesn't see him even EOW and I can assure you he wouldn't last 5 minutes with my parents...not that it's an option...I'm just saying). He says he knows that DH is trying to get along with him but he doesn't want to get along, he doesn't want to be a part of the family, he just wants to live anywhere else but here...even if it means he has to go to "juvie" (I have no idea where he heard that word or got that idea). One minute he's crying about the prospect of having to repeat the grade (because that means his two younger brothers would be "almost" in the same grade as him) and the next minute he says he doesn't care...next year will be even harder so he might as well hang back here where it's easy. One minute he's drawing pictures and making gifts for DH and wanting to do things with him, the next minute he says he hates him and hates his family and wants to live anywhere else.
The school counselor recommended outside counseling but both DH and Ex are opposed to that for their own reasons. I'm ambivalent about counseling but at this point I'll try anything. Ex wants me to talk to the doctor about ADHD but I refuse to drug him, especially given everything else that's going on. Everything else needs to be under control before we event THINK about meds and it would take a lot to convince me even at that.
I had PPD with both of the boys so I'm aware that could be part of what I'm dealing with right now...and the fact that *I've* been through a lot in the last few months and have a lot to adjust to. But I'm crying all the time, I have horrible headaches and feel nauseous, I can't sleep but don't want to get out of bed...I'm just falling apart inside. I know I'm supposed to feel bad for the poor kids in my son's class who can't learn because he's acting out...I know I'm supposed to feel bad for my stepsons who have to deal with the screaming and yelling and crying and whatever...who have to worry that he's coming into their rooms when they're not around and stealing things...I should feel bad for my DH who trusted me enough to bring us into his home and now my son is destroying things and exposing his kids to all of this. I do feel bad for everyone else...some...but mostly I see my baby who used to be this smart, funny, bouncy, friendly, happy kid and now he's so angry and hurting all the time and there's nothing I can do for him. He didn't ask to be born to a man who didn't want him and didn't care about our family...that was me. But he has to deal with all the crap his dad puts him through. He didn't ask for me to get pregnant...taking us from two kids to six in a matter of weeks. He didn't ask to have his world turned upside down so that I could get married. But he had to leave his friends and his school and his life. All these changes that have made everything so much better for me have caused him so much pain and that's my fault and I don't know how to fix it for him and it's heartbreaking.
DH keeps saying it will be ok, we'll get through it together, etc. He's doing all kinds of reading about dealing with these kinds of behavior problems and child psychology and kids of divorce and blending families. He gets really frustrated in the heat of the moment, but he's sticking with me (and us) and I hope my son sees that. I know we WILL get through it...I just hope we can turn it around before it's too late. In a mother's mind, he's still just a baby, but I know he's on a very dangerous path and it really just breaks my heart.
I'm sorry this was so long....