Bringing up two boys of my own and spending time with my partner’s two boys is a lovely way to see the brotherly bonds that kick in and grow, if connected by blood or not. When I fell pregnant with Kieran, Adam was 15 and completely horrified. It was awful, he simply did not want to know. He had been the only child of me and my ex-husband and had gotten so used to it being me and him. He loved my partner Pete and was happy to spend some time with his two boys but that was as far as it went.
Suddenly he was going to have competition!
Realisation that his world was going to change was tough for him. Not only were we going to have a baby but we were moving country to be with my partner and his two boys, albeit I was going first, to prepare and Adam was to finish his GCSE’s at high school. Timing could not have been worse. It was simply dreadful. Adam left immediately to live with his dad, he withdrew from me completely and over 3 months really lost so much of what we had spent 15 years building up. Everyone reassured me saying he would come around but inside I felt so guilty and heartbroken, yet I was trying to keep on track for my move and birth of this little mite growing rapidly inside me.
Over the rest of the year, I moved to England from NI, myself and Pete moved bedrooms round, extended into the loft and generally tried to create a home for all four of our kids. His two boys were in their element, B was 9 and C was 5. As C has learning difficulties and mild autism we were preparing him for the new arrival, with lots of baby chat and he was more curious than anything else about what this little person would be like! B was super excited as his own early years with C were very difficult and they were only just starting to bond like brothers. He was looking a little mate to play football with! Adam came over only once over this time and it wasn’t easy, but we made sure he was included.
Then came the main event. Kieran was born in September that year, and this little bundle of fun changed all our lives. He was a perfect beautiful little boy with a great temperament from the word go. B and C loved him from the off, B came up to the hospital and was dying to stroke him and hold him, C giggled a lot at this little person who pooed and drank from a little bottle! Adam just sent a text commenting on his name. A little part of me was just so sad but for my own sake just now I needed to remain focussed on what I had going on. Adam had just started his final year at high school and was getting on with things with his friends back in NI.
We travelled over to NI to see family when Kieran was about eight weeks old, and again at half term in February, Adam came to see us briefly but wasn’t really interested.
However, all was not as it seemed and gradually Adam started chatting more on the phone, texting etc and things kind of turned around when Kieran was about 9 months old. Kieran wasn’t just a little baby now, he was crawling about and developing his own little personality. Adam came over one weekend and Kieran was crawling after him shouting ‘Ada, Ada!’ And something in Adam changed. This little person liked him, wanted him to play and didn’t howl when he picked him up! And so over the next few months Adam decided to give living in England a shot. He packed up his kit in NI, enrolled in college in Cheshire (he got a guaranteed place based on his expected grades) and he moved over almost a year to the day after me.
Everything had changed and over the next few months, Adam started college, got a part time job, I went back to work and life was crazy with a house of four boys! B and C were with us every other weekend and one night during the week however there was ongoing legal and medical things going on with their mum which were escalating. B was doing great at school and wanted to stay at ours more. He loved playing with Kieran and he looked up to Adam very much. They built a den at the back of the garage and spent lots of time in their chatting. B could confide in him about the ongoing battles between his parents. C had started a special school and was doing well (he has an educational age of around 4 years) and we had made huge leaps with him gaining lots of independence. He loved playing with Kieran’s toys and the two of them would sit for hours with cars and garages and watching Raa Raa the Noisy Lion! The four of them just kind of blended.
Reality of having a household of four children, two of which had to adhere to stringent timetabling grew to be a huge strain. My partner’s relationship with his ex wife was having a negative effect on all our lives and so I took the leap to move to a small town not far away where we could give them space to get things ironed out and I could concentrate on giving both my children the attention they also needed. In hindsight this was totally the best decision I made. Slowly things got better for my partner and his kids, we all started looking ahead and planning for the future again with more realistic expectations. They became closer as they had dad doing things for them rather than me, and my two boys became so very close despite the age gap as Adam in one year lost both grandfathers and had major surgery. We certainly learned what was important to us during this time. Little Kieran did miss my partners two boys being around as much but now we started to share quality time instead of just trying to live surrounded in chaos.
Since I started writing this piece it has been almost a year. Sometimes I start something and then go back to it when I am ready, and this is one that mirrors life. Finally, we are all ready to get back together. We have just had an offer on a lovely new house accepted, moving dates being finalised and everyone has grown up a little, not just the children! Merging worlds and families is a very tricky business, even more so when you have so many personalities young and old. So now our four boys are almost 4 years older, all very different but all much more aware of what being a brother is about. The older two are much more aware of their job in being a role model to the younger two and well the youngest of the tribe is keen to remind everyone he is the boss! Or so he likes to think!!
And us, as parents, we have learned we need to compromise, sometimes say no, sometimes remind ourselves to say yes to silly things…. we only get one chance at living a good life, we should not waste it. Being part of a family isn’t easy, but it always means you are never alone, sometimes whether you like it or not!