The Wee Ones vs. My Sanity

I’m tired.
I feel completely worn out and defeated. These past 9 months have been the most exhausting months I’ve ever had, as far as I can remember. Sleep deprivation, resentment, frustration, anger, sadness, uncertainty and lots of stress.
9 months ago, the boys moved in. 9 months ago, my life changed forever.

But before that-10 months ago, after over a year of being in a long-distance relationship, Chris finally found a house that seemed perfect for us and our kids. He closed on it July 31st and we moved in on August 1st. We wasted no time. I had been packing up my apartment in Ohio, in hopes of closing on this house. We just got lucky. Or maybe we just made it happen that way. Who knows? Whatever the case, that day (Aug.1st) had been a long time coming, and I was deliriously happy to finally be starting my life over with the person of my dreams. Not to mention the upgrade from a little 2 bedroom apartment in Akron near the ghetto to a 4 bedroom house in a nice suburb of Detroit. Lucas would have more room to run and play, Chris and I would finally be sharing space, we’d live down the street from the elementary school that has a great IB program, and our kids would all be able to live and grow together as brothers.
Sounds perfect, right?  It felt wonderful and magical for about 3 weeks. Then Chris’s boys moved in and that changed the dynamic of things.

Now, I’m not saying we were totally surprised by the changes that happened once the boys were here. We knew there would be some transition and adjustment for everyone, but it was still a lot more than what we bargained for. All 3 of our boys are VERY different from each other and that causes a LOT of problems, to say the least.

Ain't he the sweetest thing?

Lucas is my spawn. He is a 4 year old powerhouse of energy and sound. He never stops going and has little to no concept of personal space yet. He’s just too young. A great word to describe Lucas is intense. He’s louder, more emotional, more persistent, more impatient, more everything than most kids. I suspect that he’s got ADHD, but he’s too young to diagnose, so only time will tell, but I feel pretty confident about that suspicion. (The boy can’t sit still for anything. He falls out of his chair at mealtime 8 out of 10 times because he’s always moving.)

Finn is my fiance’ Chris’s 7 year old son. He has been diagnosed as being on the autism

Finn, all smiles.

spectrum and is moderately cognitively impaired.  He also has severe speech apraxia, a fancy way to say that he doesn’t talk. He does have a few “words” and makes plenty of noise via grunts, screams, groans, moans, growls, beeps, and blips.
Just kidding. Those last two I made up. His only real word is “Yeah”. He does use some sign language, but even that is used Finny-style, so communicating with him can be a challenge. He’s also not potty trained, and he can also be aggressive at times, especially if you get in his space and he doesn’t want you there.

Don't let those dreamy eyes fool you.

Simon is Chris’s 6 year old. He’s a pretty typical kid. Likes a healthy mixture of kid things, talks a LOT (I think he just likes the sound of his own voice) is smart and a little too pretentious for his own good. Mostly laid back and grew up with a brother who doesn’t really “play” with toys or in any typical way, so I think he got used to having everything his way and not having to share too much because Finn shows little to no interest.

So…put those 3 personalities together and you have something just short of a nuclear reaction.
Finn seems to have it out for Lucas. He has all but stopped hitting everyone else except Lucas. In fact, Finn will go out of his way to get to Lucas and inflict some kind of pain on him. He hits, pulls hair, scratches, pinches, bites, you name it. But- Lucas often provokes him because he somehow gets a kick out of that attention he gets from Finn, even though it is negative. So we’re constantly telling Finn to leave Lucas alone and vice versa, and we have to punish them somehow making it seem fair, but it never really is. Disciplining a child with special needs is tricky, especially when they don’t understand context. So, we’ll put Finn in time out for hurting Lucas, and as soon as he’s let out, he goes straight for Lucas again, as if nothing ever happened. *sigh*

Lucas is no angel either. Like I said, he’s intense and has zero concept of personal space. He also does a lot of antagonizing just to see what kind of reactions he’ll get from both Finn and Simon. But- when we first moved in here, Lucas’s biggest problem was mainly the personal space one. He was never aggressive or mean. He always wanted to share and just wanted to play all the time.

Since day one, Simon has dealt with Lucas as if he’s an invasion of some sort. Lucas was smitten with him from the very beginning, “Let’s play, Simon!” “Play with me, Simon!” “Play with me…play with me…play with me…!”. But for whatever reason, Simon wasn’t having it. Chris and I had hoped that Simon would be excited to have someone his size to play with finally, but Simon would play with him for a minute and then I think he just got overwhelmed by Lucas’s intensity and he’d shut down and walk away to find something more quiet to do. Lucas would follow him, not understanding that sometimes kids just don’t feel like playing, and Simon would get upset and lash out.
He just didn’t quite know how to play with Lucas, I guess. Every time something happens that Simon doesn’t like, he handles it with aggression. I can’t even begin to count the number of goose-eggs that Lucas has suffered at the hands of Simon.

Lucas is a button-pusher though. He’ll get right in Simon’s face and make some crazy noise because he thinks it’s hilarious, and he’s still shocked when Simon hits him or pushes him in response to that. Lucas is also careless in his physical movements, meaning he has no concept of how what he does affects others around him. He’s constantly bumping into people, hitting, kicking and just disregarding others in general. I know that some of it is intentional, but I really think it’s largely a part of the ADHD. He’s always moving, and if he suddenly gets a burst of energy that causes him to yell, “BLAH!” and start flailing his arms, he’s not going to think first about whether or not someone is close enough that they could get hurt. He just isn’t. He’ll throw toys, not at all aware of the consequences. He can be punished for the same things over and over again, and still doesn’t seem to “get it.”

Poor little guys don’t really stand a chance against each other. Finn is the biggest of the

This happens all too often...

three, and the other two are about the same size. Lucas is starting to fight back, so there has been a lot of blood (not literally. Mostly just bumps and bruises) and tears shed between he and Simon. Simon is also older than Lucas, so he tries to manipulate Lucas with typical kid tactics like, “If you don’t let me have your truck, I won’t play with you.” and of course, Lucas falls for it, at least he used to. I think he’s on to Simon’s trickery, and I think Simon is getting smart about Lucas’s button-pushing. He’s not reacting as much as he used to, but he’s still reacting too often. And Finn is just Finn. When he does decide to play with the wee ones, they get mad at him because he wants to knock over block towers and take toys from them or play with the toys in what they think is the wrong way, and this somehow stresses them out. So even the little attempts that Finn is making to actually play are getting foiled by the wee ones and their wee agenda that apparently doesn’t include Finn. *sigh*

Just writing about it makes me tense. I hope it’s not stressing you out too much.
All of this is making me crazy. It’s making me feel like I am reaching the end of my rope, but I don’t want to let go because I love my fiance’ and I love these boys. I do. Despite all of the exhaustion and tension and stress, I love them.  I just need to know that things are going to improve. Things have to change. I can’t hang on to the end of this rope forever. My hands are sweaty from all this stress. If I do lose my grip, I hope there’s a trampoline to break my fall and bounce me back up.

Ut oh...

Slowly slipping…
~Karin

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About kantal113

I am a woman who just wants to share her crazy life with the rest of y’all. I am also a housekeeper, laundrette, babysitter, cook, teacher, caregiver, facilities manager, psychologist, and kisser-of-boo-boos. Better known as a mom.
This entry was posted in blended family, kids, life, parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Wee Ones vs. My Sanity

  1. joy says:

    can I suggest looking into family counseling? oakland county has some day programs for austisc kids I saw them in metro parents. They may be income based,
    from what I read they teach the family the how’s & why’s & also help the struggling child.
    can I ask where their mother is?
    I can’t imagine what you deal with daily & from what you have said you guys are battling depression on top of it…… I use to take Jake to the guideance center after the divorce it gave him someone to talk to , but doesn’t want to go back even though @ 12 he’s going through some heavy stuff .
    keep your chin up

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks for being the only one to respond so far, Joy. I do appreciate that you took the time to read and comment. 🙂 I’m wondering why no other responses…too long? Too heavy?
      As for counseling, I’ve mentioned it to Chris, and I am open to it completely. I think many blended families could benefit from counseling. The dynamic of this kind of household can be overwhelming. Finn goes to school during the day right now, of course. He and Simon will be spending 2 months with their mother in VA this summer, and Finn will be in a program there, too.
      Their mom moved to VA in July or August last year to be with someone. They got married in Oct/Nov. She visits them one or two weekends a month and they went to see her for x-mas. She and Chris are working together wonderfully as co-parents. They’re a perfect example of how parents should communicate after they divorce.
      The depression has been with me most of my life, in one form or another, and it’s at it’s worst during the winter months when there’s no sunshine and I’m trapped inside most days. I have had therapy and taken anti-depressants, but I hate the way I feel when I’m on them.
      I guess I’ll just have to keep smiling and keep on keepin’ on and hope the weather changes soon to help improve my mood.
      I’ll talk to Chris again about counseling, so we’ll see.
      Thanks for the suggestions and support. It really does mean a lot.

  2. Sam says:

    Ouch, sounds rough. Having a brood of 4 in residence, one being my step-daughter, I get where you are coming from. What helps me is remembering how much I am going to miss the crazy when the chicks start leaving the nest.

    I have a broader age range – my 15 year old step-daughter, who came from a turbulent home and has some challenges, but is a remarkably great kid, my 10 year old daughter, who is beautiful, intelligent and suffers from heart-breaking clinical depression, my 4 year old son, who is remarkably similar to your Lucas, and the baby, my sweet 1 year old son who has had health issues requiring lots of test and follow-ups and yet through it all has the biggest, silliest smile you have ever seen.

    Give it time, 10 months is a blink of an eye. Keep perspective and work to get some *me* time…. easier said than done, I KNOW! And give each child some alone time… we call them our dates and my husband and I try to give each one a special few hours every few weeks. take those rare moments when they are getting along and celebrate them, burn them into your memory and pull them out on the crazy days as a reminder that there are some rays of light 🙂 Hope this helps a little. It sounds like you have a remarkable little family and the gift of having siblings will be appreciated one day! ~Sam

  3. kantal113 says:

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. 🙂 It is rough, but there are a lot of good things, which is why I am still standing. I know that having siblings is a great thing, and that they’ll eventually learn valuable lessons from each other. It’s just really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel through all the craziness.
    I do get some “me” time during the day when they’re @ school, and it helps. I do use most of my time to clean house and do other chores and then the rest of that time is spent on the internet with facebook and stuff( these days it’s the blog that takes up a couple hours).
    We have talked about the idea of “dates”, but it seems like Lucas doesn’t really want to spend alone time with Chris and the boys don’t really want to spend alone time with me. We do little things sometimes, but probably not often enough.
    Thank you again for your support and insight. It does help! I hope you’ll keep reading. 🙂

    • Sam says:

      That was the tough part with my step-daughter, it took a long time to build a relationship… she wanted time with her Dad, not me. So we gave it to her, but as time went on, we found common ground and would both spot something we wanted to do and voila! I was very open with her and promised I would never try to take her Mom’s place. It took years. She now calls me “Her Sam”. It’s been a rough road and a lot of hair-tearing days, that’s what spoke to me about your post. I wouldn’t trade it for the world now, but I spent a lot of time questioning what the hell I was thinking. If I’m honest, I wanted to run screaming. Now I am freaking out as she talks about college on the other side of the country, what am I going to do without her?!?! Yeah, it’s 3 years away, but it’s ONLY 3 years away! I feel like she was 6 yesterday :(. Have a great weekend and I will definitely be reading!

      • kantal113 says:

        Thanks for the perspective, Sam! It’s hard to accept that it may take years before all of this works itself out, but I know it will totally be worth it. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just keep the wine handy and take every moment I can to step back and relax. Thanks again! 😀

  4. Mary Clemens says:

    I only wish I was closer to help. It just killed us to know the boys would be so far away, because we know how hard it is. And I am too close emotionally to give good advice, because I just want to cry. If only we could help on the hard days. I think the other respondents gave good advice. Maybe there is some counseling available. I’m rambling. Maybe we can talk tomorrow. I do believe things will get better. It’s been terribly hard, what Finn and Simon have been through. Even if Finn was normal, there would still be terrible adjustment: new home, new school, mom gone, new woman in the house, a new kid to adjust to. I expected them both to be angry kids.
    I love you for all you’ve done for the boys! 🙂

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks, Mary. I know you guys hate having them so far, but it’s great when we can get together. They love spending time with you! It also means a lot to me that you have really accepted Lucas as another member of the family. It’s amazing how you two are able to treat him as one of your own grandkids, and I’ll never be able to fully express how much it means to me. I see everyone still transitioning. It’s been tough on everyone. The kids got the worst deal, I think. Simon and Finn had to deal with the partial loss of one parent who was their primary caregiver (daddy) for a year, and then they were made to live in a new house in a new city and have now partially lost their other parent (mommy), but are back with daddy and a new woman they’re just suddenly expected to listen to. Then there’s Lucas who is the youngest, and had to go from just him and mommy all the time to having to share me and my time with 3 other people. And I’m stressed and tired and not giving him even close to the amount of attention he used to get. I may not have left him, but I still think he misses me a lot. These are 3 very different boys, and forcing them together is going to be rough. We knew that…We are still just amazed at how much adjustment there still needs to be before we find a flow and things can be more peaceful.
      I don’t expect everyone to be able to see everything from the same perspective, which is why I think it’s so great that Chris and I are both blogging. I am glad you’re reading. Thanks again for stopping by! 🙂

  5. Chris says:

    You know, when you put things into perspective, they really have come a long way these past 8 months. And like you’ve said to me, these things can take many years to iron out. I’m trying to make more effort to see their individuality and innocence. We’ll be fine if we can figure out how to bring out the best in them, and I think it starts with honoring who they are: individuals with unique talents and needs. You’ve also said that one size discipline does not fit all, and I agree.

    Here’s the thing: You and I want our kids to be awesome. We have awesome kids. Yet, somehow, we’re not bringing out their fully awesome potential. There’s some kind of disconnect there. I have some thoughts on what’s causing that, as I know you do. Let’s make more of an effort to work together on reminding our kids to be awesome.

  6. kantal113 says:

    Sounds great, baby! Let’s make awesome kids! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  7. Corianne says:

    You are an awesome Mom Karin! You just have to take things one minute, shit, one second at a time and stand from a place of love, you will continue to be. It has worked for me to break it down to be that simple. Just the other day I comforted a new Mom that shared her doubts of being a “good Mom” and that is what I told her. Kids don’t come with handbooks, that is part of the adventure…lol. But in that, we still need to keep our sanity, or least some resemblance of it.
    I understand how challenging kids can be, and admire how well you are doing with such different personalities under one roof. By the way, my oldest son, who is almost 13, was a lot like your Lucas when he was younger. (I am still working with him on the personal space issue)
    I loved reading your blog. It looks great with the pictures. Keep your head up and keep smiling. For as long as we have known each other, you have always provoked smiles from me :~)

    • kantal113 says:

      Thanks for reading, Corianne, and thanks for the compliments. 😀
      Yes, life with 3 very different kids is full of craziness, but like you said, we just have to take it slow. If your 13 year old was like Lucas and STILL has personal space issues, then I’m afraid for my future! LOL Hope you’ll keep reading. I hope to someday make this a 5 days a week blog, but for now it’s slow going, just like anything else, I suppose. Thanks again!

    • Mateen says:

      Thanks for sharing. Your post is a useful conbuitrtion.

  8. Lisa says:

    Karin,
    I have such admiration for all that you are trying to do and all that you have accomplished and, most importantly, your honesty.
    When I read your blog again, I saw that there is progress in meshing 3 very unique children together – not an easy job at all. I feel the love you have for these boys, really I do and I am certain that in time, things will blend better. Those boys have the most important element in their lives already: you and Chris and your love for each other.
    I honesty thing that male siblings do beat upon and terrorize each other as some sort of right of passage. I have very little experience with children personally, but I have seen enough of my extended family to see that boys can be rough on each other as they each grow into the individuals they are meant to be.
    As these tiny terrors grow into young adults you will see the rewards from all you and Chris have done.
    Hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. You are an amazing woman and mom.
    Much love,
    Lisa

    PS > I love reading your blog!!!!!

    • kantal113 says:

      Aww. Thank you so much, Lisa! We’re trying to keep from killing each other and the kids, and I suppose that’s a step in the right direction. LOL
      I do know that things take time, especially things like this. And that boys are a lot more physical with each other. I think it’s just that the two wee ones are so different from each other, it just seems so much more intense and crazy.
      I love that you love my blog! I hope you’ll be patient with me and my internet and keep reading! *hugs*

  9. Kara says:

    I can only imagine what you are going through, as I do not have children and do not ever plan to get any. I do remember what it was like raising my sister who is 6 1/2 years younger than me while my parents ignored us (just me?), but it’s not the same.

    I can say that therapy does wonders. I have been through many years of it, and even though Chris has never been in therapy, I have brought all of the tools I have learned to our relationship and we never would have gotten through things without it. Child therapy is a little different, but still enormously helpful. There are a lot of programs out there for reduced fees and the like, so you should check it out. You have taken on an enormous commitment and you shouldn’t expect to be able to do it all by yourself! Get the advice and help of someone who has trained specifically in this area and reap the benefits.

    Sorry if I’m repeating anything, I didn’t read all of the comments because I know I’m procrastinating and I need to get some work done. Good luck!

    • kantal113 says:

      “I do not have children and do not ever plan to get any.”
      Haha! This made me laugh. You don’t plan to *get* any. hehe Sorry. *ahem*
      As for therapy, I agree that it can work wonders. My family went through family counseling when I was a kid. We had such a crazy, dysfunctional family and my dad made the decision that he didn’t want to spank anymore and he wanted us to be happier, so we went to therapy to learn how to live together and to deal with each other in more positive and productive ways. Before that, it was always yelling; and spanking was the standard punishment, no matter what the crime.
      I’d like for us to get family counseling, but I don’t think Chris is sold on the idea. I’m not sure why. I think he’s hoping we can tough it out a little longer and do everything we can before resorting to outside help.
      *shrug*
      You didn’t repeat anything, I don’t think. It’s okay that you didn’t read every comment. I appreciate the time you took to read my post and comment on it yourself. I want feedback, even if it is the same ideas from different people.
      Hope you’ll keep reading! 🙂

  10. Great blog! I loved this post in particular. I have 3 stepchildren (ages 19, 18 and 15 now but I joined them all 10 years ago). My stepson also has special needs (severe cerebral palsey), so this post really hit home. I was lucky that we didn’t really have to “blend” our families, the first set was headed into the teen years before our oldest was even born. Good luck to you guys, sounds like you’re doing a great job!

    • kantal113 says:

      Holy cow. So, you also have 3 other kids?? Wow.
      Thanks SO much for reading my blog. It’s in it’s infancy, so there’s not a lot to read, and I have to hone my skills a bit, but it’s fun writing. It’s good to get stuff out there. It’s therapeutic, really. I am hoping to write more this summer, since the 2 boys will be headed to VA with their mom, and for 2 whole weeks in July, my baby will be going to FL with his bio-dad. So, we’ll be kid-free for 2 weeks, and I’m sure we won’t know what to do with ourselves.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you’ll come back again!

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