Posts Tagged With: instinct

What’s best for children?

Y’all my husband is hurting.
And mad. I’m talking about a ferocity written all over his face before he even finished a full sentence!
It takes a great deal to make him angry.
This deal came in the form of an email from the mother of his children.

Thing G starts college in less than two weeks.
Thing G plans to commute to NOVA for two years before transferring to another school. This was a decision he made on his own and shared with us the whys and wherefores. We supported his decision.
Thing G does not have his license and cannot drive without one of us with him in the car.
His mom began planning who could drive him to college which days without discussing it with anyone. She sent an email to YBW while we were in New Orleans outlining said plan. YBW scoffed and ignored it.
You see, YBW already told Thing G that neither he nor I would drive the boy to college and he needed a plan to get back and forth to school if he didn’t have his license by the time school started. Kid gets on the internet and finds there’s a local bus that will carry him from a stop 1.3 miles from this house to the mall where he will then switch to a bus that will take him to NOVA.
Done and done.
He comes to me with questions of how much time did I think it would take him to walk the distance and we decided he could practice and I’d come pick him up and bring him home. I told him we could do it as many times as he liked until he was comfortable with his timing.
Either Thing G has not volunteered this information to his mother, or his mother never asked, hence the email.

Well, the day we came home from New Orleans, YBW took him to meet with his adviser. (Thing G specifically requested YBW for this task.) Then they went back to his mom’s house to share the information.
Turns out Thing G also drops the bomb that he will no longer be going back and forth between his parents houses now that he’s eighteen and starting college. He has decided to live in this house with YBW and me full time.
And his reasons are as follows:
Mom’s house is 1.5 miles further away from the bus stop.
There is no sidewalk between Mom’s house and our house.

I was not present during this discussion but YBW relayed it in great detail when he got home.
The kid was clear. The kid looked his mother in the face and told her these were his plans. His ideas. The kid stood his ground when the tears came. He loves his mom and doesn’t want to hurt her, but God love him, he doesn’t want to walk that much further on a fairly rural road that isn’t really safe. He’s completely practical. If his mother lived in this house and we lived in the other one, it would be the same house, different parent. The kid is even leaving his dog.

So that’s the story.
Here’s where it gets interesting.

YBW got an email yesterday from Thing G’s mom in which she shares her dissatisfaction with this arrangement. In this email, she accuses YBW and me of going behind her back and making choices for her sons. She blames YBW for the changes in the way their family functions. She closes with something to the effect of she wanted him to know how she felt, but isn’t sure he cares.

I only read it once and I know I’m missing things, but this is the gist.
She’s mad that she’s no longer in control of what their family does.
She’s blaming him (and me) for changing that.
She’s being manipulative with questioning if he cares how she feels.

I ask if he wants to respond.
Emphatically no.

The more he talks about this email, the madder he becomes. Never raises his voice, but his face, and body language, and tightness in his throat express his anger.
He worries she’ll try to manipulate Thing G to stay with her or continue to go back and forth.
He’s mad she’s pissy about me.
(Honestly, I’ve been waiting for that to rear it’s head, and I’m surprised I’m not more of the ‘lightening rod of hate’.)
He’s hurt and angry that she questioned whether or not he cares about how she feels.
Y’all my husband was bent!

We continued to talk about it, and he cooled down a bit.
We discussed that the difference between the way she runs her house and the way we run this one is that we ask questions and she gives commands.
YBW asks his son, What do you think? How would you like it to be? How can you solve this problem?
YBW is actively working to treat his son like an adult. He’s willing to let him fall on his face and get bloodied up. Instead of rescuing him, or fixing things for him, he wants to show his son that it’s OK to fail once in a while. Failure is simply a learning process. One every human needs to experience.
He told their mother this and she went on about how Thing G is not neurotypical and he needs support. YBW reminded her that neurotypical or not, he had to learn to become a self-sufficient adult.
Everyone agrees he shouldn’t be a thirty year old man living in his parents basement. Yet only one of his parents is actively doing anything to prohibit that.

Listen, I understand how hard it is to be away from one’s children. But it is only natural that they eventually fly the nest. And all the blaming and passive aggression, and temper fit throwing has nothing to do with what’s best for the child and everything to do with the parent desperately clinging to the desire to control.

What it comes down to is that she wants her current husband, her former husband, and her sons to be figures on a chess board that she can move around as she sees fit.
She did it that way for so long.
And in the last five years, there has been a shift in YBW. He’s no longer on her chess board. He’s living his life.
In my heart of hearts, I believe she’s more frustrated that she no longer controls what YBW does than what’s going on with her sons.

She was very clear that YBW and I are making decisions for her sons and she doesn’t like it.
And I’m over here like, your sons are making these decisions, they’re just not talking with you about it.
Is it because she doesn’t ask? Absolutely.
But another factor is that I truly believe they’re frightened by her. That if they share their plans with her she’ll be reactive instead of receptive.
YBW has remarked something to the effect that you can only play devil’s advocate for so long before you suck the passion from people.

Here’s the thing that kills me. She’s his mom. But I’m asking, What’s best for Thing G, and trying to make that happen.
While his own mother rails and spits and blames because she can no longer control them. I’m sacrificing my freedom for a child that isn’t technically mine.
Why?
Because I love him.
I treat him the same way I treated my girls.
I want him to be the best possible version of himself he can. But that won’t happen if we continue to baby him. To rescue him, and fix things for him. To treat him as though he is his diagnosis.
I trust that Thing G will become a self-sufficient adult because we’re going to help him learn how to be. We’re going to have his back but let him fall. We’re going to continue to ask him how, and what he wants to choose for his life.

I committed to YBW’s sons when I committed to him. Just as he did with my girls.
They’re all our kids. Doesn’t matter that DNA doesn’t match. We’re committed to each other and our collective children because we want to be. Because we made the choice to be. They’re not yours and mine, they’re ours.
He does things for the girls that their father doesn’t.
I do things for the boys that their mother won’t.

We want our kids to be the best possible versions of themselves!
We want to help them get there.
We know that means sometimes we’ll have to step back and watch them falter.
We know we can’t dictate how they should do it.

People’s lives cannot be lived out on a chess board controlled by someone that thinks they know best.
Children must be given the best possible foundation with which to build their own lives.
Chess boards aren’t a solid enough foundation.
YBW knows that.
Thing G knows that.
They’ve begun making their own moves.
Thing G is trying to bolster his own foundation even though he’s not sure how to go about it.

YBW worries that Thing G’s mom will attempt to manipulate him to change his mind.
I said, We have to trust Thing G.
YBW said, I do.

You gotta trust your kids.
You gotta trust that what you’ve given them will get them through.
You gotta expect those “Mommie I need you!” phone calls, or late night knocks on the door, “Dad, help!”
I know the girls are going to be successful. I know they’re going to fall, going to fail. But the fact they get back up and keep at it is what it’s all about.
I’m looking forward to experiencing that with the boys too.

As parents we have no choice but to trust our kids as they take flight.
It’s so f**king hard and scary!
But it’s what’s best for those kids.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? What’s best for children…

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Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

standing at the crossroads

I’m conflicted about how to move forward with this Thing 2 situation. YBW and I have been talking and we’ve come up with two scenarios. The first is we can make her come back here, force the legality of the custody agreement that says she lives here full time. The second is we tell her to come get her belongings.
I’m getting feedback from people who love me who are just trying to be supportive. These are some of the points of view I’m receiving:
“If it were me and this was (child’s name) I would hold her accountable for the decision she made.”
“I quite quickly come to the point that she is the child and you are the adult. Make her do what you and (her father) agreed to.”

Interestingly enough, I agree with these points of view. I believe she should be held accountable. It’s the actuality of executing them where I get lost. I can easily force her to be here, but I she is the variable. Or rather how she chooses to behave is the variable. I have no idea what she will be like upon a forced return. Will she make everyone’s life miserable? Will she choose to take out her dissatisfaction on the people who live in this house?
See, if she makes me miserable, I can handle that. If she makes the boys miserable it’s something completely different.

If we just have her come get her things, she goes back to the stagnant life she left. The life that made her feel she lost a year. The life in which everyone around her, her beloved friends, are moving forward and she is standing still. The fact that she’s gotten her GED only means she’s no longer truant. Her friends are in school all day, she’ll be at home waiting. This is exactly the same situation she lived the last year. How long before she’s back against the wall, desperate and miserable and in need of change?

I can’t answer any of these questions. I still don’t even know how to feel about the situation.
I am, however, in a place where I no longer have the desire to worry neither do I have a willingness to “fix” the situation for her.
I’m certainly all about “the principle” which means holding her accountable for her decision to make a home and life here.
But I’m unwilling to squander any more energy or tears for someone who isn’t ready to look or move forward.

Being a teenager is hard. There is no denying that. I was a teenager…actually I was a teenager who was moved against her will during her high school life. It was hard, my God was it hard. I was sad and angry but I persevered, I got to start again. I have realized it may have actually been what was best for me. So I think Thing 2 should find her gumption. She should rediscover her survival instinct, the one that saved her life twice before she was two months old. She should straighten her spine and march headlong into her fear.
She didn’t really try.

I was finally able to talk to my friends and mentor, she liked what I said about respect, that Thing 2 asked to be respected, but was not respectful. She told me the angst was all in the wrong place. That it needed to be placed on Thing 2 where it belonged. She should be sitting with it. Whether it changed her point of view or not…well it didn’t really matter. She asked if I told Thing 2 I thought she was a coward and a quitter. I don’t think I did.

I called to talk with Thing 2 yesterday, she was “busy” could she please call me back later? Has she? No. I will call her again today. I will say what I have to say about respect, I will tell her I think she’s a coward and a quitter. I will wish her well in her endeavors. With a heavy heart.
My heart is heavy because she’s cutting herself off at the knees. She’s pushing opportunity away with both hands.
My heart is heavy because she betrayed YBW, who has been kind to her from the moment she showed up.
My heart is heavy not because she hurt me, but because she hurts people I love, most specifically herself. I can’t protect her from herself.

I’m still standing at the crossroads. Arguing each side against the other and still not sure which way to turn. But I’m going to start moving one way or another, simply to be rid of the angst. Without a doubt it is in the wrong place. It’s not mine to carry. So I’ll drop it at the crossroads and walk away slowly.
Wish me Godspeed.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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