Just wanted to introduce myself. I'm Barbara. My ex-husband left me and our two boys back in 2008 so it was just the three of us for a while. He saw the boys every other weekend when he had nothing better to do, but it was mostly just us. Last year, I started dating a man who has three boys. Technically, he has 50/50 custody with his ex but the kids come to his house after school every day and he frequently takes them extra when she has other things to do. He does all the parenting, when the kids are with her, she basically feeds them and puts them to bed. We "fell in love" right from the start but neither of us had any desire to merge families. It just made more sense to keep our separate households. Then, in January, SURPRISE! I'm pregnant. Oops. After much soul-searching and many hours of discussing all the possibilities, we decided that it now made more sense to go ahead with the merger. So in April, we got married, in June, when school was out and my lease was up, my boys and I moved into his house with his boys and him, and in September, we welcomed our little girl to our crazy little family. Suddenly, instead of just the three of us, I'm a mother of SIX ranging in age from newborn to 12.
We knew that blending families wouldn't be easy. Some days we're surprised at how well it's going and some days, well, we have to remind ourselves that we knew it wouldn't be easy. My two boys (6 and 8) are having a much harder time adjusting than his three...probably because they left their home and friends and school and moved into his house where all the rules are different and everything is different. Also, my oldest is no longer the oldest, he's now smack in the middle. There's a lot of other stuff going on with both of our exes and that's weighing heavily on all the kids.
I wasn't great at being a single parent, but I feel like I kind of had things under control. Now, suddenly, I feel like I'm completely lost. I grew up in an "in-tact" family so the whole step-business is completely new to me. I have ideas about how it should be but apparently some of those ideas are not very realistic. My husband's parents were divorced and remarried (his dad several times) so the step/half thing is no big deal to him but he thinks some of my ideas about how things SHOULD be are pretty crazy.
We've all been living together for about 6 months now and now that school is well underway and the baby is finally here, things are sort of settling into the "new normal". We're both getting frustrated - some with each other, some with the kids, and some just with the situation as a whole - but we're communicating and working together to deal with all of it. Even when we argue or disagree about how to handle a situation with the kids, I find myself "falling" for him even more just because of how he deals with the disagreement between us and how hard he's trying to understand and respect my ways of thinking and responding.
As a single mom, I had a pretty strong network of other single parents and that really helped me keep my head on straight but now, I'm having a hard time finding someone to talk to that understands where we are and what we're going through. I hope this forum will be a place that I can ask for advice, and maybe vent sometimes, and mostly just know that I'm not alone and all these struggles really are normal. I look forward to getting to know all of you!
Welcome! I am short on time but want to let you know that we are here for you to vent and brainstorm with; the whole blended family thing is ROUGH. What really helps is knowing you are not alone, and that your feelings are normal. I was surprised when I felt certain emotions, and learning that they are completely normal and expected helped.
"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston
WOW!!! Going from 2 kiddos to 6 must be a huge adjustment. And a house with 5 boys...I can only imagine!
It sounds like you're doing great though. We've only been a blended family for about a year now and I feel like I'm just now getting the hang of it. We only have 2 kids between us as of now...and we only have to deal with 1 ex (that is more than enough, I tell you!). You're going through a lot of changes, please be patient with yourself.
Thanks to both of you! I think I sort of underestimated how much of an adjustment this would be for all of us (naive...I know!) My boys adored my husband when we were dating and they loved visiting with him and his kids so I kind of thought that moving in together would just "work". In a lot of ways it has, but just because they loved visiting with him doesn't mean they love living with him and his rules and routines and whatever. I know that part will get better with time. It just hurts sometimes because I'm SOOOO much happier with the situation now (and I know it's a better situation for all of us) so I want the kids to be happy too. I feel guilty about being happy when the kids are hurting or unhappy about the changes or struggling to adjust. That's been a little surprising.
The other thing that's been a little surprising for me is how I react when something comes up with the kids. I can't think of a word to describe it (other than childish!) but I feel like every time something comes up with one of my kids, I hear this little voice in my head screaming "Well your kids do _____ and that's just as bad!" I get furious with the kids when they do that but I find myself doing it constantly. I think my husband is better about treating the kids equally than I am (his kids are used to his rules and expectations and discipline so sometimes it seems like mine get in trouble more but if you look at it objectively, he's treating them all the same) but I'm surprised at how defensive I get. My oldest, especially, is really struggling and acting out right now. I know this as well as anyone...he's more comfortable with me than anyone in the world so I get the brunt of his misbehavior and attitude...and he KNOWS how to push my buttons better than anyone so, yeah, I know he's out of control. But every time it comes up, I find myself biting my tongue to keep from pointing out what one of the other kids is doing. DJ lied? Well R lied the other day...and he talked back...and he whines all the time so THERE! DJ broke J's toy? Well, yeah, he shouldn't have done that but R had a temper tantrum at homework time. At least DJ did his homework without *too much* of a fight. Sounds silly, right? I keep reminding myself that we're in this together (a completely new experience for me!) and discussing a behavior that is unacceptable and how to manage that is not necessarily a criticism of me or my parenting skills or anything else. They're kids and they're acting like kids. Our job is to teach them what's acceptable and enforce that. Have I made mistakes in the past? Definitely. Could I have done things differently years ago when I was alone with them that would make it easier now? Probably. But the past is the past...we have to get through now and going forward. I've talked to my husband about feeling this way and he's always very careful not to criticize my parenting or discipline or whatever...I'm the only one blaming myself and maybe part of it goes back to my feeling guilty for being happy when they're struggling.
Like I said, we're not quite 6 months into living together and I had hoped that things would be settled down by now but it seems that especially with my oldest, things are getting worse. I know we'll get there though. I remember how hard it was for him when my ex left (he was almost 4 at the time) and then one day, it sort of clicked and he told me "You know what, Mommy, you're right, things are better now." I guess it's good that he's comfortable enough with this situation to want to test the boundaries and I KNOW deep in my heart that this is a better situation for all of us, including him, so he'll "get there" eventually. I just hope my head doesn't explode before that!
Oh I totally get this! DS is with us full-time (his bio-dad has had no contact with him in almost a year). Conversely, DSD is on a very strict EOW schedule. Trust me, her mother is NEVER going to offer more time for DH! I definitely feel like DH is more lenient with "his" daughter than he is with "my" son because she has so little time with us. It's hard. But as time goes by, I think everyone adjusts to the new "system."
I was a single mom for a while and I know I could have done things differently. But you're just trying to make it through the day, you know?
The other thing that's been a little surprising for me is how I react when something comes up with the kids. I can't think of a word to describe it (other than childish!) but I feel like every time something comes up with one of my kids, I hear this little voice in my head screaming "Well your kids do _____ and that's just as bad!"
Welcome to the forum! Wow, you're in quite the situation! The only thing I can suggest (and it's easier said than done) is make sure to take time for you and your DH in all of this insanity. We had a baby early in our relationship, as well. While we were still sorting out the rest of it all. And we found that for the first bit of our relationship, the massive amount of stress (from blending a family, to later on a pregnancy, to dealing with a horrid, cruel ex) caused us to fight over the stupidest things. It was a HARD first couple of years. But now that we're through it, we're stronger for it. It's so so important to take time for yourselves, even if it's just snuggling together on the couch after the kids are in bed. We used to sit and play Scrabble together each night, oddly, and found that we bonded over that, haha. It doesn't matter what you do, just make sure that you spend some time building your relationship as WELL as your family unit.