There are so many parts of blending a family that are challenging. I suppose among those are the worries that are somewhere along the lines of “what if his kids don’t like me?” Little did I know that those would actually be the more minor worries.
I suppose the bigger concern of the moment, and the one I didn’t really see coming, is “what if our kids don’t like each other?” or more accurately for the moment “what if his kids don’t like mine?”
I knew I was changing Justin’s life by bringing him in to this huge family, but I suppose in the throes of romantic bliss, it was pretty easy to see only the good things this would add to his life. Sure, my time and my money would have to be shared much more widely than he or I was used to, but he would be gaining siblings and playmates and people in his life who could teach him things that I couldn’t.
But, my child is not easy. He is incredibly smart and imaginative and creative and very, very stubborn. And now on more than one occasion those gifts have surfaced and caused havoc in our house. He once broke something belonging to Taylor and last weekend he threw a tantrum that might have put him in the tantrum hall of fame.
So when I returned home one night last week, it was to find a number of my husband’s kids complaining to him about how awful my child is, how they don’t want him to be able to touch their stuff, how he is weird, etc. So, I did what every over-hormonal, completely exhausted woman would do. I burst into tears and screamed, “He shares everything he has with you and all he wants is for you to like him.” I believe I also threatened to take him and go somewhere else.
Now that I have calmed down and had a few days to breathe, I know that some of these things are normal in any family. Kids often gang up on or complain about their bio siblings. They routinely tell their “real” brothers and sisters to keep their hands off their stuff or that they can’t play a certain game, but when you add a “step” relationship on to that kind of experience, it’s sort of like seeing things through a fun house mirror – all warped and twisted in strange ways. We might have a particular challenge in that when you have five that have all been together for years they know each other’s quirks, they all know the same games, they have certain patterns and rituals that are familiar – and then you have one that has none of that history and knows none of those rituals, it is pretty hard to be the one.
So, for now we wait and we hope that Justin has thicker skin that I do. We hope that he is oblivious to the fact that he is odd man out. And we talk to the five and tell them it is okay to feel the way they do but it is not okay to communicate any of those things to Justin. We even ask the older ones to help the younger ones to try to help teach Justin how to play their games. And I try to save any tears for after the kids have gone to bed.