My Kid is Depressed...and this may be why

So Charlie has been doing much better. He and I had a wonderful talk that night he had his "episode" at work. I feel like I got through to him, finally, and for the first time I think he understands that these awful black moods are something that he can work through. They are scary, for sure, and can feel like doom itself has crawled into your brain for a little vacation, but they can be dealt with.

School ends this week, and he's finishing his junior year with awesome grades. I've read a few of his final papers, and to say that I'm proud of my budding writer is a gross understatement. I've always known that my boy is smart, to see actual proof of it is a mother's dream.

He came home from school today, and as I made him a snack in the kitchen, we gabbed. He told me about his day, told me that he spoke to his counselor at school about a summer plan. He seemed like a different boy than the one I was trying to console just a few days ago.

I asked him how his night had gone. Last night, a Tuesday, he had decided to sleep at Big Daddy's house. He had two papers to write, and needed the quiet.

"It was ok" he answered. "I got a lot done."

"That's great" I said. "You're pretty lucky to have a quiet place to go, you know?"

He agreed, and then I noticed his expression changed a bit. From clear to cloudy, in an instant.

"What's wrong, Charlie?" I asked him. I'm starting to feel like a meddling, hovering mom with him again, like if even an eyelash is out of place he needs help.

"Well..." he began, eyes down, his mouth twisting like he'd just tasted something sour..."Last night, I was downstairs at Dad's, doing homework. And I could hear Secretary yelling. Yelling at Dad."

You ever get that weird combo feeling, the one of dread mixed with a little something else? Not joy, not happiness. Something on the other side of dread, but not all the way to the other side? Like a twist-cone of emotions. That's what I get when the kids mention any strife or turbulence at Big Daddy's. I certainly don't wish anything bad for anyone, and I absolutely don't like my kids to be around domestic disputes, but at the same time it makes the evil bitch in me sneer. Because no matter how hard I try to be an adult, a mature, even-keeled adult, sometimes the revenge-seeking Woman-Scorned in my heart gets a say in how I react. Deal with it.

I cleared my throat, silently pushed Woman-Scorned aside to make way for Concerned-Mom. "What were they yelling about?". Did I really want to know? Well, do you really want to look at that car accident off to the side of the road, the car accident that has kept you parked on the highway for 20 minutes? Yes. Yes you do, and yes, of course I did.

Charlie hesitated. He walks the thin line between parents very carefully, very respectfully. I used to bug the kids for details about what went on in the House that Adultery Built, I used to want to know every little thing that happened: what they ate, what they watched, were they disciplined too much, too little...what their bedrooms were like, did they have carpet or wood floors...I crossed that thin line myself too many times back then. Now, I've become so used to NOT wanting to know anything about what goes on over there, that asking one of my kids about it felt foreign. Forbidden.

But obviously, something was bugging my kid. And this particular kid has a habit of not talking about things that are bugging him until it's blown up into something spectacularly awful in his young mind. And I'm not going to let that happen anymore, even if it means I become that questioning, snoopy mom again. The let it lie approach quite obviously wasn't cutting it.

"She was yelling about me."

I didn't say anything, just looked puzzled. Yelling about Charlie? What about him? He needed a place to do homework, not to cook meth. What would she have to complain about?

"She told Dad that she doesn't want me there."

"She said that she doesn't want me around her baby."

"She's done this before. I can hear her yelling. She hates me."

I felt sick. I asked him if he'd talked to Big Daddy about it. Apparently all that Big Daddy could offer his son was "it's the pregnancy hormones talking, don't worry about it."

Newsflash, Einstein: Pregnancy hormones make you cry when you watch the news, make you want to kill people who ask you why you haven't had that baby yet, make you want to bake and knit and clean even if prior to being pregnant all three of those actions were foreign to you.

Pregnancy hormones don't make you say horrible, cruel things about a troubled, sweet, vulnerable teenage boy. They especially don't make you say those vile things within earshot of said vulnerable boy.

That's not pregnancy hormones talking. That's a malicious, vindictive, ignorant person talking. Pregnancy doesn't have a thing to do with that.

I asked Charlie how it made him feel, to hear these things being said about him. He said, of course, "It makes me feel like shit." He didn't add the "Duh" but it was implied. I wanted to trash her, and Big Daddy, right there in front of Charlie. Wanted to call them names, wanted to curse them, wanted to point out to my son that this was why I dreaded the two of them ever breeding.

But I didn't. I told him that I was sorry he had to hear that. I told him that it's her loss if she doesn't know what a great kid he is. And I told him that he was the kindest, sweetest big brother ever, and that baby is damn lucky to have a half-sibling like him. I told him that from now on, if he hears that kind of talk over at Big Daddy's house, to walk up and call them out. Ask her what her problem is, ask Big Daddy why he lets her say those things about his son.

And if I could, I would say something myself. Something like, "Hey, you dumb bitch. You don't want your baby around Charlie? Guess what? HE WAS HERE FIRST. If dealing with teenagers and the crap that they come with skeeves you out so much that you can't bear the thought of your precious spawn breathing the same air, guess what? YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE PICKED A GUY WITH FOUR KIDS. These four kids were there long before you set your sights on him, and they'll be here for a good long time (probably longer than you, sweetheart). Maybe you should have thought about this before deciding that a father of four was the guy for you. Maybe, just maybe, you should have considered the fact that unlike a wife, kids are usually around forever. And maybe you should consider that you may be causing harm...irreparable harm to whatever remains of a relationship between your Trophy Hubby and his kids.

I was beyond pissed to find out my son had to hear this tripe. Beyond heartbroken to imagine how he felt, listening to it. Beyond bewildered as to how a grown man could allow his own son to be maligned like that, and not do or say anything to stop it.

But in a strange way, it brought another little bit of closure, another little piece of the Charlie puzzle. I am searching now, looking for clues as to why my boy is so sad, and how I can help him not be this way anymore.

This was a big clue.

A corner piece of the Charlie puzzle.


  1. My son has the same step-mom and she's been around since him for 14 years! She can't stand him. He even taped her screaming at him on his cell phone. The only thing I can say, and I say to my kids, is that when people are hurting and are miserable, they tend to take their issues out on others. Unfortunately, that's our kids, Jenny. And our kids' dad's are lacking testicles, unfortunately. Hugs and prayers for you all.

  2. In some way I can't help but think (or at least hope) maybe in the end this will make Charlie a stronger, better person...but the effect it has on him now is heartbreaking. This seriously made me cry. Not as much about what she said, because lets face it that was no surprise to read shitty, but not surprising), but for some reason I keep hoping and expecting to see that BD finally sided with his kids. How can he not see what a gargantuan hag she is being and not have ANY protective instincts. GAHHHHHH!!!

  3. That was so not cool of her say while he was there. It's one thing to feel a certain way & another to say it when you know they may hear you. Shame on her & shame on his dad for not standing up for him. I hope your son does stand up for himself next time & call her out on it.

    I cant imagine it being easy for your son, I hope he takes your wise words to heart.

  4. So powerful, so wonderfully written, so incredibly sad. I want to call you. So many buttons pushed for me.

    I was the evil step monster 10 years ago but it's not exactly the same story. I was a little more excited to have the step-child (8 at the time) have a sibling and be part of a family. I did wish he was out of the house from time to time; immersed in after school activities, have a friend to hang with, or just anything. He had such anger issues and was completely unsupervised from the time he left for school until about 8 p.m. No one parented, loved, or walked with this child.

    It didn't start to suck until he and his buddies were in 6th grade and this lasted through April of 9th grade when he got kicked of the house and went to treatment. In those years he would chill at the house with multiple other boys playing video games, gorging themselves, making lots of noise and a mess. They were baked out of their minds on whatever they could get their hands on. I was more concerned with nap times and just basically raising an infant so to deal I completely ignored him. I wouldn't even talk to him. I know he was affected by this.

    By his 7th grade year I had a 3 1/2 yo and a newborn. I was besides myself with anger and my tit out, not knowing how to juggle everything or set any boundaries. It was awful. I dreamed about moving out.

    During his first treatment stint he told fascilitators he hated me and I was the source of his problems. I know I gave him a lot of negative vibes and complained endlessly to his father about him but never within earshot.

    Overall the step child loves his siblings and he and I've been getting along since but it took many years of family therapy which really helped as well.

    Unfortunately (but it's a blessing) he's back in treatment (2nd time) but we are still getting along. He is really helpful with his brothers and loves them so much.

    Hoping that BD will realize he needs to step up and immerse the new blended family properly in counseling and whatever else it takes. I'd put money on their relationship falling apart within the first 5 years.

    Would love to see you and yours somehow.

  5. I must be a little different. I say that because had my child come home and told me that, I would have been on the phone SO fast to his dad that my head would have been spinning!
    I'm sorry your son had to hear that and hopefully he will stand up for himself next time.

  6. What Tracey said. It's not Charlie; it's her. Be strong, Charlie. You are a good person.

  7. Yes, Charlie, it's HER. Obviously, anyone who would *willfully* break up a marriage & take a father away from his 4 kids doesn't care about those said 4 kids a bit. Odd that she can't see what kind of mess this might create with her hubby, though.
    Sadly, I'm sure Charlie is losing every last teesny bit of respect his had left for his Dad.
    But that's ok, *you* have more than enough strength of character to compensate for them.
    (((hugs))) to both you & Charlie.

  8. You are fricking brilliant. I am sending links to this blog as far and wide as I can. Brilliant, sad, funny and just keep moving!
    Go Jenny.

  9. Thanks to everyone, friends old and new,for reading and commenting and supporting Charlie. I'm so sorry for other kids who find themselves in this situation (Tracey...) and for moms who have found themselves scarily close to it. I am hopeful that becoming a mother will help teach Secretary how to be more kind. But then again I'm hopeful that Louis C.K. crawls into my bed wearing nothing but a determined grimace. Keep reaching for the stars, ladies.

    Love to all of you!


  10. Ugh. What a cee you next tuesday.what a horrible petty miserable person.How dare she treat your son that way.How your ex puts up with it is a wonder. I wonder how long before he dumps that abusive shrew.


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