Tag Archive | parenting after divorce

Still Healing

I think I am finally finding some healthier perspectives about my kids. I am so blessed to have some very wise and supportive people on my life who have been reminding me of important truths. It’s hard to see those truths when you are in the midst of the emotional turmoil of your own real life sometimes. 

My kids have gone through a lot of trauma, as have I.  And, at the same time, I am still a good mom and they are still good people. We are all working through our own healing journey in our own ways and on our own time lines.  I  can’t rush theirs or make their journey take a direction that is more comfortable for me. I need to keep working on my own healing. 

In the meantime, I have taken control of my own journey by setting and communicating much firmer boundaries with them. That is for their good, although they don’t completely  see it that way. There was some push back, but that was to be expected.  At the same time, they also expressed understanding of why I needed to do it. 

I do need to trust that they will find their way through this. I will provide unconditional love and support along with healthy boundaries in the meantime. 

Mother’s Day Roller Coaster

Mother’s day.  There were some real highs.  I won a fabulous gift package for my mom and it felt so good to bless her with that. My extended family was able to get together for lunch and enjoy each other’s company.  The guys took the initiative and my guy was able to be there. Two of my three kids came as well. Those were all very good things. 

There were lows. One of my kids chose not to come. He said he was job hunting but later also said he feels he can’t be himself with my family.  I think they are pretty accepting and they really love him. But, that’s how he feels.  And, apparently how he feels is more important than attending something important to me on mother’s day.  None of my kids gave me even so much as a card. I received a verbal “happy mother’s day ” from each of them at some point in the day. But, that was it. No one made any extra effort at home or to do anything for me. I have all three home with me and am supporting them and it’s a lot for me on every level.

To receive no appreciation yesterday tipped me over the edge. The younger two that were home got an earful. I let them know exactly how much that hurt and also how much I have been worrying about them both. In the end, they both apologized.  My daughter ran out to the store and got one of the few remaining cards and a few gifts.  She wrote some beautiful things in the card. They both told me they will work on some changes. We will see. My boyfriend called my oldest son and apparently my son responded very well. He apparently felt terrible about forgetting to acknowledge mother’s day.  Later that night he made a beautiful facebook post.

I realize my kids are at a very self absorbed age. But, enough is enough.  My patience finally came to an end.  I haven’t felt that hurt and disappointed in a long time.

I know there is a lesson for me in this. I have been tolerating too much for too long, as I tend to do. We all needed it to come to the surface and be addressed. 

I still struggle with why and how my kids seem to be more “screwed up” than any other children of divorce I know.  And the discouragement I feel about that just takes me down sometimes. But, I guess I just need to focus on the good and hang on to hope.

The good is that all three responded in a positive way to being told how I felt. The good is that I do know they love me. The good us that my boyfriend was so quick to step in in a fatherly role with support and firmness. The good is that I finally reached a limit which has facilitated change.

I am exhausted today. I hope I can maintain the changes.

Letting go of “if only’s”

I am having trouble maintaining a healthy perspective about my kids and my role as a mom to adults. I am aware that I am battling some unhealthy perspectives, yet can’t seem to quite win the battle these days.

I watch them struggle.  This week has included some emotionally intense situations for all three. I find myself filled with so much remorse and regret about the past and everything they have been through.  I know that is wasted emotional energy. But, it’s so hard not to see my mistakes and failings and wish I had done some things differently.  It’s just so, so, so darn painful! It has hurt so much this week, that I have found myself just wishing I could run away from it all for awhile.

I keep trying to be their anchor in all the storms that keep coming their way. But, it’s not enough. They keep struggling.  

I have to believe and hold on to the hope that things will get better for them at some point. My oldest is almost there. He has matured enough that he is making really healthy choices for himself. The other two….well, time will tell.

Thank God for the wonderful man in my life as well as friends and family who are incredibly supportive. They keep telling me I’m a good mom and have done the best I could. I hear them. I know they mean it. I wonder why it is so hard for me to see and believe that? Sometimes I can. But, lately….not so much. 

This is one of those things I need to surrender.  It is more than I can do on my own. I keep praying.  I keep surrendering. I keep hoping. 

How to Help?

I am struggling in my relationship with my son. I am very aware that he triggers my past trauma with his Dad. Unfortunately, what was modeled for him regarding managing emotions, expressing emotions, and handling conflict was not healthy. In his attempt to set boundaries, he ends up saying controlling and harsh things. When he tries to express how he feels,  it comes out aggressively and blaming. Before I know it, my fight or flight response kicks in and my brain is in high alert. I end up physically shaking,  feeling completely invalidated and disrespected. I shut down and feel that old familiar sense of despair and hopelessness that was my constant companion in my marriage.  It’s been so long since I have felt that so it shocked me when it overwhelmed me last night.

So, the question is how I handle it from here.  I know that my son’s behavior comes from his own suffering.  That is not an excuse,  it is simply a truth. I do believe he needs help. But, he refuses to seek it. So, how can I help him? I know that he needs me to shift out of my trauma response and be able to respond to him rationally….with loving firmness. It has taken most of yesterday and still through today to shift that.  It is such a huge trigger for me. But, I am getting there. 

How else can I help him? I know that allowing him to talk to me and treat me that way does not help him. But, I also know that I need time to shift out of my trauma response and find the strength I need. I know that it will be healtheir for both of us for him to move out. He is an adult, and he needs to find his way in the world. But, he is also extremely sensitive to rejection. I need to find the words to lovingly and firmly push him put of the nest. I need to make sure he knows I am always here with unconditional love….but, that it’s also not okay to treat me the way he has. 

In the meantime, while my trauma response has been triggered, I need to be kind to myself and take care of myself.  I need to watch my thoughts so they don’t go to the old familiar places of self blame and fear.  

As hard as this is, I know I can do it. 

What Matters Most

This is the waterfall my kids and I hiked to yesterday.  It was about a 6 km hike. We also spent 3 hours in the car and a few more hours walking around, getting ice cream and visiting the sites.

It was a great day. 

I found myself reflecting often throughout the day on how much longer it will be possible to spend time like this with them. They are now 25, 22, and 20. Their lives are and will continue to move forward. 

They were talking a lot about experiences they have had. Some of these experiences I knew about, and some I did not. I am so glad they feel close enough to me to be so honest.

But, being a mom, I found myself worrying.  

And thankfully, at some point, I realized I was missing out on enjoying the precious moments with them. I was either worrying about how long it will be before we can’t do this anymore, or worrying about what has already happened.  Being focused on the future and the past was preventing me from enjoying the present moment .

I don’t like what my kids have been through.  I don’t like some of the experiences they have had. I worry about their futures. Yet, all of this is outside my control.

We had as close to a perfect day as was possible yesterday.  The weather was perfect.  Everyone was getting along and enjoying each other’s company. We are all healthy and able to do a beautiful hike together.  We live close to some of the most beautiful places in the world.  My kids express love, appreciation, and thanks to me often. And they definitely did yesterday.

That is what matters most. The blessings of the present moment. I am grateful. 

Feel it All

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Yesterday was a hard day. Father’s Day is difficult for my kids. They talk about seeing facebook posts about the wonderful fathers other people have. And, although I am blessed to have a wonderful father myself, I feel the pain and loss my kids experience.  It hurts. A lot.

I also found out that my daughter is back in an unhealthy relationship yesterday.  I found out on facebook when they made their relationship facebook official.  That hurt. And, I am really concerned.  My son told me about some of the dynamics he observed in that relationship and he is very concerned.  I have stated my concerns, and she will need to figure it out. But,  they are pretty big concerns so it’s hard to let that go. 

Facebook completely overwhelmed me yesterday.  More photos of other beautiful family weddings with happy families, wonderful tributes to amazing fathers and husbands, posts about social and political issues in which people I love are on polarized sides (which sometimes makes me feel torn in two), and my daughter’s news. It became too much for me.

In addition, my ex-husband bought my daughter a car. She really needs reliable transportation, so that’s good. He’s finally stepping up to help so that’s good.  But, what’s hard about it is how I handle all the day to day needs of my kids by myself….and then he can swoop in once a year or so (conveniently on father’s day ) and be the hero with such a grand gesture.  There is no way I can do something like that.  I’ve been giving her rides, making sure she has bus passes, groceries, and still helping with her cell phone so she can manage on  her own. All of those things I help my kids with every day is exactly why I can’t buy them a car. But he can, because he lives for himself day to day.  Sigh. It’s frustrating.  But, she will now have reliable transportation, so that’s good.

Yesterday, my mom also shared with me some recent test results that indicate a possibility that her cancer may be active again. They will be monitoring it closely. I am trying not to worry. I am trying to trust. But, that’s not easy either.

Yesterday was not a good day.

Today is a new day. I focused on gratitude this morning, and hoping for a shift to come soon.

Always Learning

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I was very encouraged by this quote today. I needed that.

I always try to have a Sunday meal with all three of my adult kids. I look forward to it every week.  Although the boys live with me, it feels like I don’t see my daughter nearly often enough and I miss her. The dynamics are always different when we are all together.  Sometimes I even feel like a bystander while I  watch my kids share and encourage each other.  I know I’m not.  I am the one who raised them to treat each other that way. I am always part of the conversations,  but I  see how close they are to each other, and it warms my heart.

But what I was struggling with last night and this morning, is how hard it is to watch your kids flounder in life.  The early adult stage of figuring out who you are and what direction to go is so hard. I just want to have answers for them….I want to steer them in the path I want for them….something that seems safe and “normal” and secure.

That’s not who they are. All three of my kids are artsy, creative, push the envelope type of people. They resist cultural “norms” and argue against the safe paths in life.

How ironic that I….who as a young adult thought I had it all figured out….raised these three unconventional thinkers! I was reflecting on how I did everything “right” and “normal” and “safe” as a young person. I expected that doing so would pave an easy path for me in life. Ha! The reality was far from that!

Do I  like it that my beautiful baby girl is adding tattoo after tattoo to that perfect body I used to dress in perfect little girl dresses? Was my dream for her to be a world famous tattoo artist who travels the world with her art as her dream for herself is? Nope.

But, this is her path to take and her dreams to realize. She knows how I feel and I do my best to guide her with the wisdom and knowledge I have.  But, it’s her journey.

One son dreams of a career in music and the other in film editing. Both have strong views that challenge me and sometimes even upset me on a whole range of topics.  Would it be more comfortable for me if they chose conventional, safe careers, and were more on the same page with me on some topics? Yep.

But, that is their journey.

I was feeling some bittersweet nostalgia this morning about getting older. I was thinking about life’s disappointments and how  I thought I was sure about so much when I was their age.  I  was thinking about how much I feel like I don’t know now. And then I came across that quote.

I felt reassured.  It’s true.  All of my life has been an education.  I am integrating that knowledge into every choice I make and everything I do. I try my best to pass that along to my kids. But, like most young adults. …they need to learn for themselves and have their own life lessons. I can’t protect them from that, nor should I.  But, I can be there no matter what happens in their lives.

And I will be.