To think I've fucked up my children. Feeling really down.

(113 Posts)
Theghostofchristmasarse Wed 04-Aug-21 00:16:58

I don't know where to start really....Split up with DH over a year ago. Was miserable for a while, about 5 years, him about 3...we were ticking along ok but he just never talked, drank too much, never helped with the kids, obsessed with work..I did everything along with working full time and I'd become resentful and miserable. We both agreed it was over and he was more devastated than me, but we got on with it, he moved out a year ago and he's been dating, me too, but the kids have never known that. He's been happy when dating but miserable when not. He's ok with the kids but doesn't really know how to deal with them. Ok for 24 hrs but can't cope with doing anything else when he's got them.

I've stayed in the house, to be honest not much has changed for them except they go to him two nights a week, he has a nice rental and we are gradually working through the legal stuff. I still do everything for the kids pretty much and work, plus I've got money worries on top of that but I'm still happier, he's been a better dad now he has to be and we are amicable, I bite my lip a lot to make everything ok for them and put myself out for them, things like doing all pick ups and drop offs as he doesn't drive, making sure they have nice days out and little camping breaks as he won't take them away, I am a teacher so I do all holiday childcare etc, he won't take time off so he sees them weekends during the holidays.
On the face of it we are all coping well.
But...DD is 11 and her mental health is shit. Anxiety, she thinks she has ADHD, she's said she thinks she's gay, bi, non binary, trans, all of it, changes every week, none of it is demonstrated in her clothes or who she seems to like, it's all a cry for help I think. I've tried getting help for her, counseling etc which we are waiting for, talking, telling her I love her regardless, doing nice things with her.
DS is 6 and the school recently asked if they could refer him for maybe ADHD or possibly ASD, he has awful trouble sleeping, they both do, I've only just sat down after getting them both to sleep, he has tantrums over the tiniest things, I'm doing what I can to help them but getting anywhere with it all is taking ages. They're both very clingy and attached to me, not surprising really as he was very distant with them, probably still is.
DD started self harming a week ago, I've chased counseling for her and contacted the GP, we've talked about ways of helping her anxiety and sensitivity to noise etc, confiscated her phone as she was talking with a friend about doing it and they were encouraging each other, and I'm trying to set up some control over it as I feel social media etc isn't helping. We've had a great week, baking, painting, camping, took her shopping and to get her ears pierced today, it's been lovely.
But they both just couldn't sleep tonight, it's always bad after they've spent time at their dads, worse as they are there two nights in a row as he won't have them during the week as it's the holidays. I'm exhausted and am trying to keep on top of DIY jobs on the house, getting work done, cleaning, plus days out so we aren't stuck inside.
I just think that if I'd just sucked it up, stayed with him, we could have maybe worked things out. I wouldn't be happy but they might. I spent Saturday at a barbeque with the guy I'm seeing, who is wonderful...had a great time, but there were kids there the same age as DD and DS and I just kept comparing them, thinking if my two were there they'd just be clinging to me, wouldn't interact etc.. there was a girl there the same age and she was so confident, so happy...I don't think DD will ever be like that.

I think I've basically fucked them up. Either because I put up with DH and his sullen, stroppy, disinterest in them and leaving it all to me, or because I got so sad and angry and exhausted because I did it all, or because I wanted out and now their lives have changed and they have to be without him, or me, for several nights.
I just can't see how things will improve, I feel like there's never going to be an improvement. I'm so much happier without him and with my BF, we've been work colleagues for 11 years and we get on so well and he's so patient and wants to eventually be a part of their lives, but I can't see a time when he will be able to, as there's no way I'm introducing anyone to them within the next year or so of course.
I just feel a bit hopeless really, sad my kids have become so anxious and sad and it's my fault. I don't know why I was so selfish to think I could do this, splitting up their family, and us all to come out unscathed.

OP’s posts: |
Sillawithans Wed 04-Aug-21 00:23:02

You're doing great op. You haven't fucked your kids up. Of course the separathascaffected them but you haven't fucked them up.

ChocAuVin Wed 04-Aug-21 00:25:12

I couldn’t just read this and run. It’s clear how much you do for your DC and the efforts you make to mitigate your exH being a bit crap as a dad. Please don’t feel guilty—you’re doing so much better than you think. Keep on loving your kids. Be kind to yourself. You’re doing your best, and it is enough. They will be just fine. flowers

WitsEnd9 Wed 04-Aug-21 00:25:20

Didn’t want to read and not comment. My dd also started self harming around that age. You are right, social media does not help. Control that as much as you can, whilst you still can. You are doing all the right things spending time with her, reassuring her.
You’ve done nothing wrong and haven’t caused. If both your children have suspected SEN then that is most definitely not caused by you and will be very difficult for you. My youngest has ADHD so I do understand.
You’ve done the right thing by splitting with ex if it makes you happier. You’re kids need you to be happy too.
Please push for help with your dd l, fight for it. For mine it got worse, friendships and secondary school played a big part in it. Encourage her healthy friendships, invite them to your home. I wish I’d done this more.

Ridiculousradish Wed 04-Aug-21 00:28:19

You haven't fucked them up, you sound like an awesome Mum x

Notimeforaname Wed 04-Aug-21 00:31:34

You're a fantastic mother. Absolutely brilliant! Your kids are lucky to have you.
Please do not blame yourself.

As mentioned above,do push for extra help for your children. You've been doing a great job so far the sounds of it.

Remember,you are just one person.
You haven't done anything wrong and definitely haven't done anything bad in regards to you children!

Get all the outside help and support you can. You also need to tell their father how much you need extra help.
Dont put yourself down opflowers

BeenThruMoreThanALilBit Wed 04-Aug-21 00:39:54

It’s not your fault. At the very least, it’s DH’s as well as yours but honestly, it sounds like your DH was a lame husband and father and possibly is still not providing the fathering your children need right now. On your description of things, it sounds like you are not to blame at all. You did what had to be done. No better options were available to you.

11yo for a girl is a tricky age. You’ve done well to confiscate the phone and keep her close to you. She might need that more than you might guess. DS too. Would your DH be amenable to spending time with the kids at your home? Would that be better for them? Not seeing him at all would be abrupt and possibly worse than what they currently have, but perhaps going back and forth is too much for them right now?

Also, and sorry if this sounds stupid, but have you talked to them? Really listened to them in a context where they feel comfortable talking to you?

It does sound as though they need intense attention and reassurance and time. And strict bedtimes - DS acting up could partly be sheer exhaustion and worry. Prioritise. DIY and cleaning and days out should take a back seat to doing what they need to do in order to feel the feelings they need to feel. Perhaps that can happen while you’re doing DIY together, or cleaning together, or on a day trip (walking and talking is great).

Good luck flowers


chorizoTapas Wed 04-Aug-21 00:39:57

You have not fucked them up at all!

DD is 11 and her mental health is shit. Anxiety, she thinks she has ADHD, she's said she thinks she's gay, bi, non binary, trans, all of it, changes every week, none of it is demonstrated in her clothes or who she seems to like, it's all a cry for help I think.

I could have wrote this about my own dd (12) It seems to be the thing right now and I think TikTok and social media doesn't help tbh. My dd is currently bi. I try not to make a big thing about any of it but just accept what she says and tell her She can be whoever or whatever she chooses. However, Rightly or wrongly I let her know that what seems very prominent on TikTok doesn't necessarily translate into the real world... i.e she would be hard pressed to find a genuine 'non binary' person in our local village. It seemed to help. I just want her to have an open mind and some perspective as TikTok can make you feel like EVERYONE has a pronoun and everyone is gender fluid for example. I know there are people who genuinely experience this and I don't have a problem with it but 11 year olds are so impressionable I think they need to know tik tok and what they see at school isn't a great representation of real life

I think you're doing the right thing getting her help for adhd and your ds too. You might find if you can get them diagnosed and medicated that they sleep better and relax in general

The other thing I wanted to mention is my kids also come across as bloody miserable at times, try not to compare them to other kids, who knows what they're like behind closed doors.. my lot can put on a right show of innocence when in public but once they're out of earshot of strangers they transform into manic depressive, argumentative little monsters! ;)

lilmishap Wed 04-Aug-21 00:50:36

NO YOU HAVEN'T. They are reacting to a change.
DD is 11 this is when most of us are working out what/who we are and she appears to be sharing with you so she isn't feeling isolated and alone BUT what you found on her phone would leave any mum shitting herself. Have you spoken to the other friends parents?

You mention sensitivity to noise, were there rows before you left? had/have you got shouty? what noises trouble her?

I have an adhd/asd son and recently got a diagnosis myself so I can't tell you what 'normal' is. But I've not met a woman who didn't feel like she'd fucked everything up while watching her kids resettle after a break up with dad.

If there is asd then EVERYTHING will always take longer but even without asd it will take a while. Most importantly, if there is ASD it would be there regardless of your relationship status. You would have been dealing with it alone while with ex dp

It might be time for you to start changing things, you say not much has changed for them or you. Why?
Redecorate? Get a new look? Try on some new traditions and habits

It sounds as if you are struggling with this as much as them, but your struggle seems to be self loathing and blaming yourself.

Quit the self blame and start rewarding yourself for having the balls to do this.

No one will drop a new life into your lap, you have to make one for yourself.

EmeraldShamrock Wed 04-Aug-21 01:02:20

You haven't. flowers
I'm so sorry you're under so much pressure, my DC are the same, DD 12 only over non binary phase asd add/DS disproportionate response to everything emotionally deregulated.
I'm in a stable happy relationship.
It is hard to admit I'm often envious of other parents too, I hate that DD is extremely anxious and a hermit, she excludes herself from social situations, it hurts and makes me feel at fault when I see girls her age out living.
Similarly with DS the constant flow of professionals involved in his care.
I read a post once from @formerbabe she said your real DC are nothing like the DC you imagined.
It helped me accept it isn't how I expected but they are who they are.

On the ex he is a selfish dick.

OhNoNoNoNoNo Wed 04-Aug-21 01:05:20

You can’t know why they are having problems. They could have been ten times worse if you had stayed with your ex husband.

paddlingon Wed 04-Aug-21 01:11:51

My ds aged 11 had ADHD, anxiety and lots of fluid sexuality.
DH and I have a pretty decent marriage.
It hasn't and would never mean my dc don't have SEN and the challenges that come with that.

You would just be in an unhappy marriage with all the SEN challenges that your dc brought which sounds like total hell.

A year of counseling and ds is so much happier in himself, we still have hard days, we had one today but we all have the skills to survive them now.

Mothers don't cause ADHD.

missymousey Wed 04-Aug-21 01:11:54

You sound like an amazing mother and you're doing wonderfully. You haven't fucked them up and they need a happy mum not a downtrodden one martyring herself to keep a miserable marriage together. Congratulations on finding the strength to go your own way.

Re your daughter, lots of children her age are really struggling especially after the year they've all had. Sounds like you have a great relationship (loads of parents wouldn't even know about the self harm) and she knows you are there for her and helping her. Definitely agree about the internet and social media being not great, sounds like you're taking steps to reduce it and encouraging real life interests and connection instead.

Theghostofchristmasarse Wed 04-Aug-21 01:21:47

Thank you all. Crying a bit now. Tired I guess, the kids are up before 7 every day and DS often wakes around now to get in my bed... I just feel like I can't relate to the other mums I know, their kids seem so happy and innocent, well behaved, happy. I know they are day to day but when I found out my DD was self harming I just was broken. She's not done it since and I've asked if she's felt like it again and she said no, but I just feel so sad at my happy little girl who is just so quirky and funny and odd but just is disappearing before my eyes.. We are close, but DD is very like her dad, he's a closed book, she is too. I've tried talking to her about her worries but she doesn't like it, she shuts down, one word answers, sometimes just noises. I'm the worst parent ever right now because I've told her I'm going to be restricting her phone time and checking her phone. I know it's for the best and she'll get used to it but she hates me right now.
He just lets them do as they like at his, I message him about them and he just sees the messages and reads them and doesn't respond. I'm going away this weekend for my birthday and I really need it, I told him months ago but he's just said he needs me to get them early on Sunday because he's got a date. I just despair. The time I get without them is great and I know I'm lucky to get that, I'll enjoy myself and my BF is great, he backs me 100% and offers advice etc but he doesn't know what he's letting himself in for I think.

They're both so loving, so cuddly with me, I know they do appreciate me but it's just so exhausting as they're also so clingy. Partly I guess because their dad isn't, he does awkward hugs.ive often thought he's on the spectrum.
DS has a good bedtime routine, DD too, I've tried to instill that, stories, no screens, early to bed and lots of time to wind down, but it took him 4 hours to sleep tonight, and only when I went back up and let him sleep on me. I got them on melatonin which helps so much but even that hasn't since they've been spending two nights with him.
Their dad can't come here as I'd have to collect him, plus he's just so miserable when he is, so awkward. It makes me worse because I feel I have to compensate constantly. Also he refuses to finish work earlier so can't come until 8pm of an evening. We have done family days when it's been Christmas or birthdays and it's all ok, but I can't relax around him as I just feel so guilty that I'm still here. The DIY is because he left with so many jobs not finished, we had no flooring upstairs for months and there are holes in the bathroom where mice were getting in so I have had to start fixing that, I did all the flooring myself and have managed pretty well getting jobs done and it has to be done or we can't sell the house next year, I only have holidays to do it as I'm so busy at work in term times.

I feel so scared for my daughter starting secondary as I can only see it getting worse with the social media etc..I hope we get some help soon from camhs etc but I'm not holding my breath, the waiting list is 2 years apparently.

OP’s posts: |
Theghostofchristmasarse Wed 04-Aug-21 01:22:22

Sorry I'm just waffling. I feel like I need to just vent.

OP’s posts: |
Theghostofchristmasarse Wed 04-Aug-21 01:29:40

@lilmishap noise sensitivity, both of them always have, couldn't use public toilets because of the hand dryers, DD literally reacts to every noise DS makes, he constantly sings, talks, chats, meowing noises...she just is constantly snappy with him, telling him to shut up. I tried earplugs but she's resistant. There were no arguments, no shouting, although when they were younger I was so unhappy and couldn't cope with trying to get them both to sleep with no help so I did get to the end of my tether, especially with DS crying every night whilst DD essentially put herself to bed because DH either wasn't home or was just downstairs ignoring us.

OP’s posts: |
patkinney Wed 04-Aug-21 01:33:54

There's a poem, I think - it starts "They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad..." being a teacher you probably know of it.

Note, its not: "She fucks you up, your Mum...."

So don't get upset and remember that!

I'm sure you will get better advice on here than that, but perhaps it will make you chuckle and that's something...

EmeraldShamrock Wed 04-Aug-21 01:38:13

but it took him 4 hours to sleep tonight,
I'm not advocating melatonin however I'll tell you our life has changed dramatically since DS was prescribed it.
From 1/2am bedtime most nights having started sleeping routine at 8pm he is now sleeping from 9pm.
His mood has stabilised massively due to a full nights sleep.

Theghostofchristmasarse Wed 04-Aug-21 01:38:29

Covid has definitely made it so much worse, all our chances to have friends who they like over to play etc have just stopped, plus just the times off school and the general worries about the virus...I've been as relaxed as I can be about it, but it's just all over the news so much.

@paddlingon that gives me hope. But I just can't see her engaging. Plus she's so bright and clever, school have just said they don't think there's an issue, I think she masks it at school and the anxiety of that has really compounded it. She does seem better since being off for the holidays.

And I have done lots to change things, I've redecorated their rooms a bit, made them nicer, did my own bedroom so I have something for me, we had 2 brilliant camping holidays...I feel like I'm doing everything I can.

OP’s posts: |
Theghostofchristmasarse Wed 04-Aug-21 01:41:43

@patkinney haha yes, thank you!

@EmeraldShamrock yes, thank you, a few weeks ago I felt like we could have the answer, both on 1mg of melatonin, helped so much. Not helping the past few days, and much worse since they've been with him 2 nights in a row. They're fine leaving me now, weren't for months, but once they are back with me they're so unsettled.

OP’s posts: |
EmeraldShamrock Wed 04-Aug-21 01:42:57

Is there an assessment of need in the UK if you can self refer for an ASD assessment.
Push it, not too frighten you after the gender phase IME anorexia could sneak in.
DD is so frazzled she isn't eating well and unfortunately parents with similar issues are noticing similar behaviour from their DD's.

EmeraldShamrock Wed 04-Aug-21 01:45:22

DS is on 3.5mg prescribed by a psychiatrist.
He is 6 too.
Not sure if he is over or yours is under prescribed. confused

EmeraldShamrock Wed 04-Aug-21 01:47:04

I'd say the unsettled behaviour is par for the course, it'll become their normal soon.
DH needs to do fun stuff with them too, his slacking is the issue.

Dillidilly Wed 04-Aug-21 01:57:31

You could read about girls with ASD and see if anything resonates about your daughter, as girls present very differently to boys on the spectrum.

With regard to sleep problems, have you tried weighted blankets for them both?

You sound like a lovely, reflective mum, try not to beat yourself up x

paddlingon Wed 04-Aug-21 01:59:26

OP if it makes you feel better a teacher specializing in SEN told me in yr 6 that ds definitely didn't have a SEN problem he just didn't focus that well. Partly because he is a bright kid who does fine academically at school and doesn't get into trouble.

We ended up with an Ed Psyc assessment ( which showed adhd and anxiety) due a handwriting issue and nothing more at school. We were finding home life hard at times with emotional regulation issues.

The first counseling session was on zoom and he spent most of it in another room!

Don't give up hope, don't blame yourself.

Following the bucket analogy, your dc has a leaky bucket and you can't top it up if your bucket is empty as well.
Look after yourself as well as your dc.

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