Monday, May 3, 2010

Turning 40

I am sorry to have neglected this blog. I do have so much to say!

April 23rd was my 40th birthday. My son - thanks to my darling boyfriend - texted me to ask what I wanted to do, We made plans. I was excited! He also asked me for advice about his girlfriend- something he hasn't don in months. I began to get suspicious, and then felt guilty about that.

The phone calls from school continued to roll in, one about every other day, regarding his absences. I am in touch with the school and truancy officer, and he keeps accruing these debts.

And then the text came. "So, hey, Mom, do you have the title to my car?" This would be the very same vehicle that his dad's family gave him, that he drove in and got a very high mph speeding ticket in, that I took away along with his license, that he and his dad's family go back through lies and manipulations. He "just wants the title so he can pay off" his grandfather for the car. Luckily, my lovely boyfriend says to me, "You know I manipulated to get my car title when I was his age. I did get it, I sold my car, and I bought a motorcycle."

My son is a self-professed adrenaline junkie. A motorcycle could very easily spell fatality. Or really any choice that he makes which he will do without me, should I hand him that title. The vehicle he has (and the fact that he has it) is bad enough.

I told him that he could not have the title to his car, that I would not knowingly hand him something that I believed would be harmful to him. I also told him he could have the title when he brought me the emancipation papers (still nowhere to be seen).
Either that or he could have it when he turned 18.

He let me know that he would fight me on that, and that is pretty much a direct quote.

So, in an unprecedented move, I uninvited him from the birthday get-together. I wanted to enjoy my birthday and not fight or have tension like that.

I cried. Really, sobbed and thought I would die, is more like it. And then I had a great time!

We did text each other and say that we loved each other more than once since then. So, we are in touch.

On a slightly different note, I still get concerned about confessing too much of someone else's business and not saying enough about myself, so let me try to even it up a bit here. This is not to say that my son did not do these same kinds of things, but here I am going to stick to me. I am the mom who wielded a hammer to knock the doorknob off of my son's bedroom door when he refused to let me in. I have cussed at my son many times. Once I slapped him. I wanted him to never have to go through the kinds of things he is going through now and I have felt embarrassed by him. All of these things are faults.

The truth, as I am realizing and accepting it, is that I did the very best I could and that is was actually not half bad. Most of all, I loved and love him. I also continued to grow and improve. The truth also is that my son is a beautiful child of God who I would raise all over again, even knowing these things. He is amazing. There is nothing either of us have to be ashamed of.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter

Today my son and I had agreed to go to church together after I asked him earlier this week if he would like to go. Well, we didn't quite make it due to tardiness and getting lost. But we did have a lovely time eating out!

Before that, though, at one point my son had gotten really turned around while he was driving. At first I was trying to allow him to take the route he wanted to take, and assist him with that - my style of parenting. Give his opinion credence, and help him if he needs it. But when he "fails," then I usually get at least partially blamed, and this time was no different. He said he wanted to give up, then asked if I would just come find him and meet him where he was. I said I would. He sighed deeply with relief, and I left.

Driving toward him, it occurred to me that this seemed symbolic. Part of what I have done to contribute to the difficult situation we are in is to somehow give my son the impression that I valued his opinion more than mine, that he is wiser than I am. I believe this is a result of my asking him - basically - for advice when I was upset about various things. It was the wrong thing to do, and I am deeply ashamed of it. At the same time, the impression is inaccurate. I am a worthy guide for my son. It is terribly unfortunate for both of us that in my vulnerable moments at times I leaned on him too much, but overall I am strong and wise.

It seems that he is blind to the evidence that points toward this truth, even when he requests it and I follow through. I found him somehow, off of 290 at a random gas station. He had gotten the cross streets wrong in directing me, but at a certain point I knew I should pick up my phone and ask him what was around him. He was less than two blocks away. I found him by asking him what he could see around him.

Patty Griffin sings, "Sometimes you're out there on the highway and all of the signs got blown away. Sometimes you wonder if you're walking in the wrong direction...If you break down, I'll drive out and find you. If you forget my love, I'll try to remind you. I'll stay by you when it don't come easy."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Awful Truth

Today I asked a question and thought I was ready to hear the answer. I asked a very wise person who knows and loves me and that I trust what she thought I might have done wrong in my parenting my son.

She calmly and gently let me know that she felt that I had leaned on him too much, treated him too much like an adult and a partner at times. she also felt that this had contributed some to his belief that he could be out there on his own now since he was already treated as if he were older than he was.

This realization feels as if a hole was blown through my heart.

I knew I wasn't perfect. But to actually hear what I did was almost crushing.

She was quick to point out that she feels that overall I was a wonderful parent and that this kind of scenario is very common among single parent households.

It just still feels like hell.

Another friend congratulated me on being brave enough to ask for and to stare down the truth, adding that she probably would never ask because it would be too hard to hear the answer.

And still I feel so sad.

Even though there is no way that I could have been perfect for my son, I really believe that he deserved perfection and not to be hurt by me in any way. But then I guess every child deserves that and none has it, as there are no perfect parents or people.

I still have work to do, and I began by asking God to forgive me. I'll write about this more. I know I have more to work on with Him to see how I can get my needs healthily met.

Another thing this lovely woman shared was that she was glad to see me moving on, and that it was good for me to do so. She added, he certainly is.

"And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart,
Everybody sees you're blown apart,
Everybody sees the wind blow..." - Graceland, Paul Simon

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For Writing Out Loud

I read a recent article on a GREAT site called blogher.com. It was titled Naked Blogging (author Maria - sorry, don't know the last name), and I encourage you to read it. the subject matter was about how much to expose in your blogging. This has been a very real issue for me as of late. I have since deleted, out of respect, some posts that in hindsight I felt may have revealed too much about others. Below is how I responded to the article:

recently exposed
kollette March 16, 2010 - 11:34am
I am new to blogher and to blogging, and therefore to blunder blogging. I started a blog to do many of the things Maria mentioned: gain support, give support, etc. The topic was dealing with my teenaged son, and more specifically how difficult this year has been. Note: right now I am definitely holding back. Although it was not my intent for any of my family to stumble upon my blog, some did. The fallout was hurtful to all. I also don't think most of my blog was "shooting from the hip," but at the same time my story involves other people and I have decided to try to stick to just revealing my own life - trying very hard not to disclose anything that is not really mine to share.

On the other hand, and this is very important to me, I still feel that erring on the side of revealing too much is better than not speaking out at all. I have people in my life whose goal is to keep secrets and have me do the same. The entire point of writing and publishing the truth is to speak it and share it , in my opinion.

Of course, perfection in the balancing act of - to continue the metaphor and up the ante - how much to shed in this poker game of blogging is unattainable and subjective, yet something I will try to continue to move toward. I am certain much of it will depend on how high the stakes are, how important I feel the subject is to reveal, and whether the other players are packing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Purpose

My purpose for writing this blog is to tell my story, to get support, and to support others who may be on a similar journey.

Recently one of my family members expressed a great deal of anger regarding some of the writings I posted. Although it is not my intention, I do understand that speaking out, especially when it involves others, can feel threatening to some people.

I believe that people are complex. No one is all good or all bad. Someone can do wonderful supportive things sometimes, and that same person can turn around when another issue arises and really act in a disappointing way. When that becomes the rule rather than the exception, I believe it is time to examine the value of that relationship. Also, the dynamics between family members vary from member to member, particularly when there is one history involved and a whole other set of circumstances for another interaction (with biological as compared to step-families, for instance).

I am certainly not a perfect parent. The only thing I did perfectly was to love my son, but I probably violated every item, at some point, that some would consider to be good parenting values/actions. I am not a perfect anything, as a matter of fact. It was never my intention to portray myself as such. I am pretty sure that simply writing a blog in which I pour out my guts about the fact that my son has left home automatically disqualifies me for Mother of the Year.


One thing I did try to teach my child was that he is and I am worthy of respect, and that people who act in disrespectful and harmful ways to either of us are to be confronted. If they can not or will not treat us well, that is unacceptable behavior. Boundaries will be set, regardless of who they are. It is my belief that the undermining of my authority and respect by some others has largely contributed to my son's disrespect toward me. But I was unwilling to keep him from having relationships with some of his family, anyway. I felt that it was his choice. I feel that I showed respect for them in this way and for him and his choices. What is sad to me is that, and it is evidenced in this blog, most people who seem to be able to understand and support me are not related to me. I do feel that my family and my son's family have dynamics that are harmful and that are opposed to speaking the truth.

This blog isn't for parents who were perfect. This blog is for parents who were very good parents and who are experiencing the pain of their child acting out in difficult, disrespectful ways. If you are one of those parents, then you know as well as I do that you spend hours - sometimes days - at a time questioning yourself. Since my son left, I have even spent days on end crying and believing that nothing really mattered anymore. I have also spent hours in therapy and highly encourage anyone experiencing this to do the same. Additionally, I have spiritual guides and mentors that I speak with regularly and discuss my thoughts and behaviors with. I am, with their help and guidance, doing what I have prayed about. It has taken me many hours of self-reflection to come to a place where I can usually believe that what I am doing is the right thing to do. My head knows it; my heart still aches. No one likes letting go.

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
— Ana├»s Nin

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Freedom

"The truth will set you free."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

He has to miss it, right?

A friend's blog post has just inspired me. Since the Emancipation Declaration, I have felt lost. I wasn't sure where the lines or the room would be for us to be in each others' lives.

Some suggested that there was no room. But even that night, in between the therapy session and the serious discussion, there was chatter about what his friends said that day that was funny. As we waited for the waiter to bring more chips and salsa, I learned about the new kid that is hanging out with the old crowd and how he's a really good athlete. I heard about who is getting buff, and what his girlfriend did the other day. So, I know there is part of him that just wants me to know and love him. There is absolutely part of me that wants the same.

Even up to the day he left, I knew what the signal was. He never said, "Mom, I need to talk." He didn't make an announcement at the dinner table, or come in the door and ask if I had some time.

I suppose the way he handled it might have been left over from when I used to make time for him every night; I sang him to sleep for years. I used to sing "Amazing Grace" and almost gave up and moved on to another song because I thought he wasn't listening. He never sang it with me, or on his own during the day. But one eight year old night when I was about to start singing, he asked, "Mom, what's a 'branch like me?'" He had confused the lyrics "wretch like me!" He was listening!

What he did the last couple of years was wait until I was ready to go to bed and then come and lay on top of my covers with me, and just start talking. Sometimes he would lay on his tummy and pull up his shirt a little, too, meaning I should rub his back while he talked. My 5'11" little boy. Mostly I just listened. Sometimes I shared some insight. Always I was there. And so was he.

I will miss that indefinitely.