Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A difficult situation

I write this post with the fear that I will be causing strife in my home. More often than not, my husband does not read my blog. But sometimes he does. And while I believe I have said everything that is in this blog to him (I firmly believe in honesty in a relationship), pouring it all out at once may not have positive results.

But I write because I have to. If I keep my feelings bottled? Bad things happen. I have been struggling for a while now and I am hoping that you, my 7 loyal readers as you all have in the past, can offer me some insight or advice that might help me make some progress with this situation. I am trying to do the right thing...but what is "right" has become a little bit fuzzy....

The past few months in our household have been difficult ones.

Last April (the week of our Honeymoon, actually), we got custody of Hub's 5-year-old daughter (aka Princess).

She has always been a bit more...um...high maintenance than my son (aka Boo). To be fair, Boo (who is 10 months younger than Princess) is a very well-behaved little kid. Very low maintenance on the whole. So understand that I have been, perhaps, a bit spoiled on the child-rearing front.

Getting custody of her was not my life's ultimate dream. She had generally not made a good impression on me with her histrionics, and I found our weekends with her (pre-custody) to be very stressful and tiring.

Again, to be fair, I think just adding another child to the mix is an instant chaos inducer. And chaos makes me twitchy. Me no likey the chaos. I do not wish to lay blame at her feet for all of my stress related to the situation. Some of it just had to do with managing another kid. I think any parent of 2 or more kids will attest to the fact that going from 1 to 2? Is a big deal.

My hope had been that if we had Princess full time, some of our structure, routine, and discipline (all of which she had previously been seriously lacking) would kind of smooth things out a little.

Yeah. It hasn't. At all, really. Some things have gotten worse.

Princess has some issues that I'm worried about, for her sake, for ours, and for her influence on Boo. She steals rather frequently, she lies a lot (even when she has clearly been busted), she manipulates, she believes she is entitled to whatever she wants, she destroys toys (hers most often, but too often the toys/possessions of others), she throws obnoxious fits when she does not get her way (and has been known to purposely break things during said fits), she gets angry and hits Boo (often without remorse), she destroys most things she touches, nothing seems to make her happy, and she complains c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y. about everything.

Pretty much anything Boo does, in her eyes he's doing it wrong. If he moves wrong, says the wrong thing, looks at her, points in her general direction, hums, plays his own way, laughs at something she has not deemed funny (seriously), etc. I mean nearly anything he does. And she will yell at him for it. Pretty much anything we do or buy for her? Isn't good enough. More complaining/whining/etc.

This is not the example we set in our house. I'm aware of the influence we as the role models have & we monitor our behavior closely. This? Is not a monkey-see, monkey-do thing. At least not from our household.

I realize that to some extent this kind of behavior is "normal" in a kid, altho I can't imagine even a fraction of her behavior being tolerated by my parents. The idea of me trying to pull this with my parents? Gives me the shivers. ::shudder:: But this kind of behavior isn't rare, or unusual, or even "not the norm." If she is not doing one or more of these things? We are pleasantly surprised.

It is that constant people. Seriously. And trying to manage/discipline that? Is frustrating and exhausting. Constantly.

Now, Boo is not blameless. I do not put him on some pillar of perfection, because he is not. He can be really frustrating at times. He is also a boy, so when he finds something that gets a rise out of Princess, he will exploit it. Which, since she complains about everything, is not a difficult endeavor.

Most nights when I get home from work, I spend the entirety of their remaining waking hours mediating arguments and sending them to their rooms because I can't stand the constant agitation. I've tried explaining, I've tried ignoring (i.e. depriving them of the attention for their behavior), I've tried requesting nicely that they stop, I've tried yelling when repeated requests go unheeded, and finally? I have just started punishing with time-outs to their bedrooms. Get along, or go sit by yourselves. I'm tired of it.

She complains. Boo provokes. She complains more. He keeps up with the provocation. She starts yelling at him and occasionally this has escalated to her kicking or hitting him. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get the dogs out, cook dinner, make lunches for tomorrow, and (insert whatever other miscellaneous tasks that need doing before tomorrow here).

Hub's relationship with her has suffered as well. The atmosphere in our household when she is gone? Is monumentally different.

This leaves me with some internal struggles.

1. If we continue to have custody (which is a real possibility), how will this affect our relationship, our family, and Boo? It has not been a positive experience thus far. At all. What if I have to cope with this for another 13-15 years? I love my husband. Tremendously. I do not marry easily. She is part of the package. That is something I have to accept. And I painfully want for it to be easier to accept.

2. I feel tremendously guilty and selfish for feeling the way I do and for wanting her to go back to her mother. Hub has accepted and treated Boo like his own. The love he has for Boo? Is obvious. It breaks my heart that I am unable to do that in return. I am very principled, so rules and expectations apply to all...but I cannot create an emotional attachment where none exists.

3. I really want to have a baby with my husband, but the idea of adding a baby to the current situation? Kinda makes my skin crawl.

4. Are all girls like this? If Hub & I do have a baby, there is a very real possibility it will be a girl. Is she just a bad representative for females? I don't remember being like that...and if I'd tried? My parents would've beat. my. ass. Seriously.

I am not the only one with these kinds of feelings. Others have expressed things to me as well. And Hub's relationship with her continues to suffer.

I know that being a parent requires sacrifice. I know that it's not all butterflies and rainbows. One could argue that sometimes people don't like their own biological children. And then what? Would I want to send her away then?

I understand the point there, but I am also a firm believer in nature+nurture. There are things that are fundamentally hard-wired at birth. The dozen healthy infants thing? Is crap. Genetics matter. And they make a difference. Environment? Shapes how what is naturally there manifests itself.

That being said? If she were my biological child, her environment would've been much different from birth, and she would be comprised of altogether different maternal genes. Not necessarily better, but different. She would not be the same child, so it is not a fair comparison.

But it does play into internal struggle #4. Sometimes parents don't like their biological children. What then?

I'm scared, confused, stressed, frustrated, concerned, guilt-ridden, and anxious. I cannot force myself to like someone I don't like. I can be civil, but that's about it.

So now? I wait. And I hope.

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