Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Relationships - part eleventy million

According to an Open University study by Dr Jacqui Gabb, married couples without children are happier than married couples with children. My first reaction? no shit Sherlock.

I have plenty children and I love them, sometimes it's properly difficult to remember why I love them and they seem to want to try stuff to make me see if I can stop loving them but I'm averse to change, I still love them. Despite their best efforts (I'm looking at you Beautiful Baby daughter, winner of the gold medal gobshite Olympics 2011, 2012& 2013)

And as I like to have a ponder and a speculate, I wonder how many of these couples are step parents? This has been the hardest thing of all for me personally. To me, step parenting is all of the work without all of the reward.

I love my husband with a passion previously reserved for David Tennant and fruit and nut toblerones. He is quite frankly the person I can spend endless amounts of time with and never get bored, but trying to balance the demands of the children we have and the influences of ex's and have time to be a couple has been like walking a tightrope whilst juggling fire over a pit of tigers who haven't been fed for a month. Man alive, it's properly tricky.

I am fairly new to the step parenting thing, courtesy of my beautiful husband I now have a stepson, he was 4 when I first met him and he is now nearly 8. He is a delightful child, despite the influence of my delinquent children. I have an easy gig with The Boy Wonder, a really easy gig, he's always cheerful to be with us and he copes really well with living in 2 households that have vastly different norms and routines. He also doesn't live with us full time, which helps with the easy gig, I can be a good step parent when I only have to do it part time.

However my husband does live with a stepchild full time and my mercies, she is not the easiest child in the world to live with, she would try the patience of ALL of the saints. For this alone, he should get a medal. Never mind that he inherited 3 teenagers that I had made earlier. Most normal humans (read sane) would have run a mile.

I have been a parent for almost 22 years (how the hell did that happen, clearly I'm only about 29!) and in that 22 years I have had the benefit of 3 children trying to tap dance all over my last nerve. All 3 of them have at times, made it their mission to dement me. However in that decades long battle of wits, I have learned a thing or 3, I can spot a lie a MILE away, I am quite aware of all their cunning little tricks.

However my husband hasn't had the benefits of all those years of parenting, he got mine almost fully formed with all the problems that the teenage years can bring, up till then he just had to have a ferocious knowledge of Lego Star Wars and an inexhaustible patience for building Lego models and playing X box/wii games. Which, to be honest, weren't a great deal of help to my most troubled child (BBD, not that I need to put that in, if you've even only ever been to this blog once before!)

However both of us have to live with children we have had to learn to love, that unconditional love isn't there as it is with our own children.

He hasn't had the benefit of my children when they were cute and adorable now he just has to try and figure out how to love a teenager/s who see it as their mission in life to eat us out of house and home, make as much mess as humanly possible, doing absolutely nothing to help around the house and still managing to make him feel that he has ruined their life by breathing in a house we bought and have provided for their comfort and easy life. Not easy.

I feel glad to be nearing the end of my intense input kind of parenting, I'm tired of it (gimme a break, nearly 22 feckin years.) I feel like I am 22 miles into a marathon and I've been made to go back and run again from mile 8. I have returned to a phase of my life I thought I had left forever, the park years, cold and very boring for me. With The Boy Wonder, lovely though he is, I have seen it all before and it didn't always interest me that much then.

My kids have opinions and views on the world that my husband doesn't share. The Boy Wonder sometimes comes out with views and opinions that get me up to 90. We all have to love and live with each other. The influences of the children's other parent also can cause no end of problems.

Would my husband and I be happier if we didn't have children?, for me that would be a yes (at this moment in time) but I'm still mighty glad I had them, not sure what he would say. I think our life would definitely be easier, less conflict, less stress, more free time, more money and more autonomy.

It is a work in progress, we will keep trying. They all grow up and leave home eventually, right?


30 comments:

K Ville said...

I think aiming to try to love a teenager is an exceptionally high bar to reach. I prefer the idea of aiming not to kill the teenager (with a daily tick sheet) - the sense of achievement is so much higher. As always I recommend the alpha parenting teens course for hubby (st wilfreds). I recommend you go too because the food and wine is good and you can nod sagely constantly. God love you about the park I still count myself lucky I didn't have a boy and activity discouraged my daughter from all things parky. I have no words of solace except: hipflask :)

auntiegwen said...

KV - indeed, except I don't think I could nod sagely just wail and grind my teeth ! Parks are so not fun, NOT AT ALL especially in the winter and boys don't care that it's winter NOT AT ALL

libby said...

Not sure that I can say anything wise here....TBW is indeed cute as a button and the beautiful children are a credit to you....they are all just normal kids, and you and the mister are doing a sterling job..... I can't help much but am sending big hugs xxx

Andy said...

I'll admit that sometimes it's like living in the zoo, but then people pay good money to get into Twycross so I suppose we should count our blessings. And no one seems to be too upset that we've released two of them into the wild, so we're ahead of Twycross already....

auntiegwen said...

Libs - thanks for the hugs, wine soon? xxx

Andrew - two down, two to go :)

Gigi said...

Big hugs to both of you - because parenting is hard enough; step-parenting is doubly hard.

auntiegwen said...

Gigi - and there are 4 of them and only 2 of us!

Nota Bene said...

Oh I could have written this (but not so well, nor with so much wit). Being a step parent is a nightmare, especially if the offspring are of teenage years. The CM and I have more arguments about the kids than everything else put together...it can be miserable. CM and I have taken different approaches to step parenting and it would be fair to say they are both rubbish....

auntiegwen said...

NB - I know, it can really put a wedge between you if you're not careful, and I have to say I think your boy is just marvellous so you must be in the right...this time :)

Trish Burgess said...

My son never had the Park Years. He's probably abnormal but I love him for that.

auntiegwen said...

Trish - dodged a bullet there my dear

Looking for Blue Sky said...

This has cheered me up for all sorts of reasons....I'm probably not supposed to say that am I? Mainly because it made me smile (sorry) and I am doing some extreme teenage parenting of a slightly different kind here, but seem to be unable to write about it in such an entertaining way... xx

auntiegwen said...

LFBS - extreme parenting is such an unvalued sport, gin my love? xx

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Excellent idea xx

Mae said...

Hey there! It never ends....I love being a mum, but i get what you say about your lovely hubby taking on 3 teens...hard work and love takes time...! I love my weekends 'off' when my boy is at his dads.....he is safe and happy and I'm in John Lewis or Lakeland....My lovely man has 3 children, 2 of whom I never see as his ex has spent the last 10 years pouring poison into their ears...anyhoo, as I said to my lovely man, we came as a package....! And of course WINE HELPS. XX

Jean said...

I have 2 neurotypical teenagers and a beautiful 9 year old boy who has autism. Autism is a piece of piss compared to the older ones. That's all. Love your post XXX

auntiegwen said...

Mae - hello me dear, long time no speak, yes indeed them pesky teenagers do take it out of you! xx and wine ALWAYS helps xx so does gin!

Jean - teenagers can be the very devil at times, mine seem to take it in turns to torment me, thanks for popping in xxx

jazzygal said...

Dropping in via @Looking For Blue Sky who shared this during the week, looked interesting so here I am!
Interesting and entertaining. 'No shit Sherlock' is definitely an appropriate response. Although I only have one child, one of those dreaded teenagers who screams at me one minute then envelops me in the most wonderful hug the next, parenting does encroach on a relationship!

Yes, they will grow up and leave. Eventually. Post school, college and anything else that keeps them her. But, will we miss them then?? I reckon I will!

jazzygal said...

Dropping in via @Looking For Blue Sky who shared this during the week, looked interesting so here I am!
Interesting and entertaining. 'No shit Sherlock' is definitely an appropriate response. Although I only have one child, one of those dreaded teenagers who screams at me one minute then envelops me in the most wonderful hug the next, parenting does encroach on a relationship!

Yes, they will grow up and leave. Eventually. Post school, college and anything else that keeps them her. But, will we miss them then?? I reckon I will!

auntiegwen said...

Jazzygal - yep, might take me a while to miss mine, I'll be busy spending all the money it costs me for their uni on gin and days out!

Curry Queen said...

We cocked up our timings completely (if unintentionally) by having our two 3 years apart. Consequently, just as we were cheering and hanging out the bunting because daughter was off to Uni, son bloody well came home again. Oh the things I would do differently given my time again! Parenting is a nightmare not least because (as I reminded my 21 year old son the other day) they will always be the child and you will always be the grown up and you will always fret about them even when you are 99!

auntiegwen said...

CQ - we seem to be working on a 1 out 1 in policy too! but 2 down 2 to go, these little things keep me cheerful!

Saz said...

yes they do grow up and leave..
remeber how things can change on a drop of a phone call. letter . nuance a look...

yep...i sometimes am stunned to a halt as i actually realise i am alone, without the kids, husband, no clock to watch, no deadline to meet...it can be shattering..

but apart from missing my son at uni in usa, and my daughter who has chosen to hardly know me since my ex split us all up (i thank you now, secretly, not to his face, if ever i saw it again)...

i now , 4 years on (14th feb...no joke!!) love my life, love my self employment. that would never have happened, love my friends, most of all I love ME..i am me again...

and I live in the present, the moment, I have now found that is possible it's taken me 55 years and how many months...

and yes...happier without kids, a couple you ask..of course, cos its just you two..not dvidied 100 different ways..of loyalites, loves, likes, hates, opinions...

just be auntie gwenie, dear one...hold him tight...
the kids will always flit here and there...but just be you, for you...be present...after all it is what it is..
giggle

luv saz x

apologies for spelling, am im the light of the screen only....xx

Helena said...

When marriage No2 came along our previous marriage children were near enough the same age which made the steppy stuff a bit easier.

It's never straightforward and got a bit more tricky once our two little miracles of our own came along.

I guess making him feel as much at home as possible on his access visits was the intention. I still can picture all those Teenage Mutant thingy things Sean had plastered all over the walls and ceiling! God it's mad to think he's nearly 30 now....!

Jay said...

I feel so much better after reading your post, and we don't have any step children, just 3 awkward ones of our own. Sometimes it's just so hard isn't it? I am with you on the park years, I'm so over all that friends for tea/play and sleepovers and push-me-on-the-swing!

auntiegwen said...

Saz - I do hope you can get out to the USA to visit your boy x and yes you're right I get divided a 100 ways x

Lena - those turtles are making a comeback you know, I've seen loads of them around recently

Jay - a blogger after me own heart, we'll start a "we hate the park club" :)

sandiart said...

I was step mum to 3 boys for 10 years, it was not the easiest time especially as their dad didn't back me up when I asked them to do things eg. have a shower etc. That was a long time ago now, the youngest was around 7 or 8 when we separated and now 22 and haven't seen them for all of that time.
I was lucky with my own three, not had any trouble with them, youngest is 23 so past all the teenage angst.
xxx

auntiegwen said...

Sandi - the step parent thing is much harder for me than the parenting, despite the part time nature of it ! xxx

Mrs Worthington said...

How to love a teeenager sounds like a title for a book. They are hard enough when you they are your own never mind anyone elses. One of mine proper scared my partner at the time away, oh the stories I could tell! As for 8 year olds? hats off to you. I just couldn't go there. However children are with you for but a brief time and hopefully you will have many years to come with your hubby. Hang on in there cold parks and all.x

Velveteen Rabbit said...

It has been an age since I visited here! And reading your world awakens the pull of the keyboard again!
The New Husband and I have 5 between us! His 3 boys leave my mind boggling some times and I know he considers my 2 girls creatures from another world entirely!
Its not easy (thank god none of his are under 18!!) x