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Not Always Sure I Can Pull Through

I have two stepkids, and one child of my own. I know there are stepmothers out there who are worse off, but I am finding it really hard to face my days with the patience and hope that seem required.

My stepkids are 4 and 6, and they can both be either incredibly sweet or unbelievably awful -- screaming, kicking, defiant, and angry. Obviously, they are young and confused, and some of this may just be developmental. But I'm just so worn down by the work of our life and the pressure of their too-often intense negativity and rage.

To give more info, I work two jobs; my husband and his ex are both in school. Clothes, food, activities, birthdays, holidays, childcare expenses, and tuition are all on me. I also do all of the shopping, cooking, and laundry. I have potty-trained all three of the kids. I do bedtime every night. I make lunches, check for homework, and coordinate the schedules of two households and four schools. I'm worn down.

I have incredible sympathy for the kids, who split their time between two households; at the same time, I am *aching* for some calm and respect in my house. Simple requests yield screaming. And I think being a mother in my own right is actually a detriment to my stepparenting because I have an experience with my child of having simple, clear, and consistent rules followed up by discipline -- and it is so hard to parent him in that vein while simultaneously accepting (or somehow understanding) behavior from his siblings that would be totally unacceptable from him. I end up resenting my stepkids, which is the last thing in the world I want to do.

Worst of all, I have such problems with my husband over this. He's wracked with guilt, both by my supporting us through his schooling and by the divorce's impact on his first two kids. And he's stressed himself by the horrible behavior -- but defensive of them when I bring it up. The result is a ticking time bomb of tension and resentment, and god help me if I need sympathy, support, or time to myself. I have tried to explain the difficulty of stepparenting; the no man's land of being the non-mom who does all of the mom work. But I'm sitting here now, supervising all three kids, while he's playing on his computer in the den. And tomorrow morning, when they wake up at 4:30, as they do, I'm going to be the one up, stopping fights, making breakfast, and getting kids dressed. If I don't get up, he would rather lay in bed fuming while they scream until HE screams -- rather than just getting up. It's infuriating.

The problem is that I have a family I'm not willing to leave, but this situation is going to send me to an early grave. The kids lack discipline and respect -- and when I try to instill those or punish them (and we're talking timeouts here) for misdeeds, I'm often overruled *right in front of them.* I want to say that either my husband will step up to the plate and start doing more than being a human jungle gym (which is exhausting, I know), or the kids MUST be taught to be easier to deal with, but I won't leave, and even the threat of leaving is enough to send him into a complete meltdown which, trust me, ain't better.

What do I do?
tiredtiredtired tiredtiredtired 31-35 1 Response Nov 11, 2011

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Your husband needs to step up, there is no other way. And I can't believe he just leaves ALL the work up to you. School is hard but having a job & running a household & taking care of your own and his kids is 10.000x harder. I guess he is not seeing this. Any chance you can go somewhere with your child when he is at home so he gets full responsibility of everything. He is the one that NEEDS to change. His kids are his responsibility and the houserules should be the same for all kids (I know that's a hard one but things just won't work with different rules for different kids.

But I guess most of all you really need to sit down with your husband and talk all of this through as he is not pulling his weight.

Wishing you the absolute best of luck with this!! :)