Posts tagged ‘parenting’

The Calm After the Storm

So things have settled down a bit. C is doing pretty well even though his room looks like a toxic waste dump. I just try not to look in there very often. It seems to work fairly well.

I admit, I’ve kind of given up and let go to some extent. I still make him come back downstairs and clean up the mess he leaves in the kitchen, but unless I remind him of each step multiple times, about 75% of them don’t happen. He still wants to spend his entire paycheck on Pokemon related things five minutes after said paycheck hits his bank account. I’m not sure what else we can do at this point to turn him into a fiscally responsible adult beyond our requirement that he save 50% of his money in an untouchable account. He still binges way too late at night, which is not good for his war-torn belly, but it seems to irritate me more that he’s so obliviously loud when doing so than the fact that he’s eating at 11 p.m. Yet I continue to have concerns about his health.

This is just who C is, and while I know this, I find it difficult to accept. What bugs me even more, however, is that our job as parents (in my opinion) is to prepare a child to be a functioning adult – have we done that? I’m not so sure, which is probably why I hang onto an urge to parent C. I find it a myth that parenting stops at 18 years old, but I also doubt the level of change *I* can bring about in C’s life at this point. I see stories about adult children living at home, needing their parents too much, and ultimately failing at many areas in their lives, and I make the mistake of reading the comments on those stories…bad move on my part. The little voice in my head starts asking what else I can do, what else I should do, what else I need to do.

Because ultimately, I want C to be independent (or I want him to be able to move out – it depends on the day how I word this goal). And not just independent, but safely, happily, and successfully so. Frankly, I’m not sure which of these, if any, can actually happen. And my mind goes back to him being my job and all the things he needs help with, and ugh, it’s a vicious cycle.

Then I remind myself I’ve done my best. I’ve done all the things. I’ve given it my 100% for C’s whole life. And I pat myself on the back a little bit and focus on the thing I can actually do, which is take care of myself and try to heal from the years and years of stress, drama, and pain. It is all I can really do, and probably the sooner I accept that little fact, the better off I’ll be.

May 1, 2019 at 8:22 pm 1 comment

50 for 50

I have never been big on birthdays. Until this one. Tomorrow I will be 50, which feels like a massive milestone. From surviving cancer, to surviving parenthood, I feel like celebrating this as the big deal that it is.

A party is not for me, so I decided to make a list of 50 things I want to do in my 50th year. There’s nothing really huge on there – no Icelandic vacation or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail despite both being things I’d like to do – as ultimately I wanted to make the list achievable in this year.

Surprisingly, I have found the list somewhat difficult to make – figuring out 50 small but important things has not been an easy task. I’ve only come up with 29 thus far, but I keep adding things here and there. Re-learning Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor, something I could play when I was 17, is on there. Getting tattoo number four. Mastering a couple of yoga poses that have proved difficult after removing my tumor and lymph nodes also removed my ability to do a lot of things with my arm.

So far? I’ve crossed off four things on the list. Finishing the painting I talked about here a couple of weeks ago, making writing a habit again, playing piano again on a regular basis, and buying a pair of mermaid-scale printed boots have all been completed (I work with kids in the environmental education field…between those boots and the pink streak in my hair, I am *in* with the 5th graders).

Not on the list? Anything having to do with C. Nothing really having to do with Husband (except hopefully he’ll want to do some of those outdoor activities on the list with me). This list is all about me. Having put myself last on the list – or even taking myself off it altogether – for so long, I’m truly learning self-care for maybe the first time in my adult life. Taking up things I love once again – writing, yoga, piano – is an important part of reclaiming my own identity after kind of forgetting my own self for so long. It sounds like the ultimate of cliches, but I truly got lost in the job of making sure the person I brought into the world could survive in it.

Now the focus turns back on me. It is the key to my own survival, if I’m honest. So off I go to tackle number 17 on the list. Wish me well.

April 7, 2019 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

Motherly Love

Until last spring when I accepted a job running a small environmental education non-profit, I was teaching anthropology at the local community college. I loved the job, and I can say that I was loved by my students. I went above and beyond to help students who needed it, allowed all voices to be heard, and met students where they were. My philosophy of teaching was not to tell the students what to think, but to teach in a way that made them think, wherever that led them.

I often wondered why I found relationships with students – which most definitely took on a motherly tone – so easy and rewarding compared to my relationship with C, which was difficult and frustrating. Clearly, I could distance myself from students in a way I couldn’t with C because he is my kid, and mother him I must, even in the darkest of days. I knew this in my head, but in my heart it hurt that I couldn’t enjoy C in the same way I could my students.

But maybe, I have since realized, that is not the point. Mothering, I suppose, is doing what needs to be done for your kiddo, whatever that may be. Much like my teaching philosophy, I think I just need to meet C wherever he is, give him what he needs from me, and not worry about what I think I need from him. Mothering C has never been typical in any way, and perhaps I should stop wanting that from him.

A group of students found their way into my life and filled that need for me. In that way, they have given me far more than I ever gave them. Last week, while a bunch of them were over for dinner, I was aglow in the noise and joy in the house. I found myself so ridiculously grateful that these kids were here, letting me feed them, sharing stories, laughing, playing games, and having a good time. Frankly, letting me mother them in a way I don’t really get to do with C. Giving me a glimpse into something different, and not with regret, but thankfulness that with these students, I can be the kind of mother C doesn’t let me be, doesn’t want me to be, and maybe doesn’t really need me to be.

December 17, 2018 at 4:10 pm 2 comments

Where is the line?

     I’m not sure why, but I am fascinated with the show “Intervention.” Truth be told, drugs and alcohol frighten me to a degree such that I’ve never indulged in the former in any way (I might be the only living person over 20 who has never smoked pot), and rarely indulge in the latter. So I’m not really sure why the show speaks to me like it does. It is what it is.

     Yet something one of the intervention therapists said on a recent show really struck home for me. He was talking about co-dependency, which is a term I hadn’t heard since college, when a friend bought the book Co-Dependent No More and had us all read it. It was probably my first exposure to self-help books, and to this day I chuckle when I remember how each of us (myself included) in our circle felt the book was written for her, about her.

     Basically, what I realized – after hearing the therapist talk about how a co-dependent person’s good days and bad days are based on someone else’s good and bad days –  is that I am way too wrapped up in C. My mood is almost completely dependent on his. If he is cranky, I am worried. If he is sick, I am a wreck. If he is happy, I am too.

     This is not good.

     I work, with the full support and encouragement of Husband, from home. Part time. While C is at school. I drop him off and pick him up every day. It’s not because I desperately want to do this, although I do enjoy it. Seeing C’s little face light up when he sees me and watching him run toward me with gleeful abandon makes my whole day. Still, I’m not one of the Moms who live and breathe their children and have yearned for the parenting job from the time they were mothering their dollies at four years old (you know, the Moms that have personalized license plates that read “SCCRMOM” or “MOMOF4”). It’s more because we feel it’s what C needs from me. It’s what we chose. It’s what I do. I don’t know any other way, and apparently it has consumed me whole.

     So where do I go from here? Frankly, I’m not really sure. I have carved out things for myself; I read, I write, and I watch “Intervention,” among other things. Yet it’s not enough. I need some emotional distance, which is something I’m not really sure how to go about securing. All the kids already call me “C’s Mom,” because of course that’s all I am to them. I have a feeling that I’d better figure it out quickly, before that’s all I become to myself as well.

July 14, 2010 at 6:01 am 12 comments

It’s a new year

     I vividly remember an email from an old friend many years ago in which she told me she could hardly wait for her son to wake up in the morning so she could hang out with him. That statement stuck with me throughout the years, mostly because my favorite time of the day is about five seconds after C falls asleep. The guilt I feel about that has weighed heavily on me at times. What is wrong with me that I don’t revel in parenting as much as other people do? 

     Lest you get the wrong picture, I have to say that C is just about the most delightful child to ever walk the earth, and I wouldn’t trade him in for any other kid on the planet. Every grown up that meets him adores him, and I would venture to guess that nearly every single teacher in C’s school knows him by name. I can’t even count how many staff members, many of whom I don’t even know, have told me how much they love C. Last week, a substitute teacher stopped me in the hall and said if all kids were as joyful as C, she wouldn’t have retired. That is a pretty amazing testimonial to just how fantastic he is.

     Yet somehow we’re missing that spark at home sometimes. We enjoy C, don’t get me wrong, but other things get in the way. Health concerns, therapies, behavior challenges and IEP details often threaten to take over our world. So much of the day is spent keeping the very specific, very necessary routine that we often miss just living. And missing that seems to translate into missing some of the joy that should come with raising children.

     So my new year’s wish? While I don’t anticipate ever sitting by C’s bed in the morning anxiously awaiting the moment his eyes open, I will continue to hold my old friend up as the kind of parent I am trying to be. I hope to move past the routine to find that the joy is always there even when I seem to have lost it – I just need to remember to revel in it.

February 2, 2010 at 5:54 am 8 comments

I Yam What I Yam

     When I was growing up, I always wanted to move somewhere new. We lived in the same house from the time I was one year old until my parents moved to Arizona 35 years later. Bored with my small town, I fantasized about being the new girl in school just about every year when school started. I wanted to reinvent myself, become someone new, and change personalities like a chameleon changes its color.

     College, and subsequent multiple moves after marriage, afforded me that chance to morph into a new person. I could be in a place where I knew not a soul, and be whomever I wanted to be. Yet now, facing the possibility of yet another move, I wonder what this new place will bring. Should I become the ever-patient mother who befriends everyone and bakes fabulous gluten free/casein free cookies for all the neighbors? Should I turn into that Mom who knows everything about autism and is the resource for all the other moms? Should I be the cool Mom who always has kids running through the house because they all want to hang at our place?

     What I have found, however (and I won’t tell you how many moves it took me to figure this out, but I’m working on double digits here), is that wherever I go, the old me follows. I’m still the slightly frazzled, pretty tired, mostly good Mom who is trying (not always successfully) to do right by her kid, husband, and self. No new personalities that don’t really fit, no new ability to magically become June Cleaver (even though subconsciously she must be my ideal), and no new “cool factor” that I’ve never really possessed before.

     I’m just always me. Just me.

September 22, 2009 at 6:19 am 8 comments

Foiled again

     My very brave boy decided again to run for student council. Sure he would get elected this year, he eagerly wrote his speech and earnestly talked about why he would like to be involved. He practiced his speech before school and apparently even added a few sentences on the fly while standing before his class.

     He came home on the day of voting positive that nearly everyone had cast their ballot in his direction. I alternated between wanting to be completely supportive and needing to prepare him for the possibility that he might not get elected. Yet ever hopeful was I, thinking about his strong start this year and his seeming to finally have a little bit of a support system among the kids.

     He was close, his teacher said, really close. For that I am happy. As for C, he handled the disappointment pretty well. His closing comment on the matter? “Good grief. I hope I get elected to student council before I get to college.”

     Me too, C. Me too.

August 31, 2009 at 10:21 am 6 comments

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