Here I am, circling the drain again– banging my head against the same old wall– built with bricks of crumbling self-esteem, and topped with barbed-wire of razor-sharp self-loathing and remorse.
On the heels of a stellar summer of travel and adventure, it just sucks a little more than usual. I came home from three+ weeks in Scandinavia and BlogHer14 feeling excited, confident and enthusiastic– only to find that the same issues that drive me to fight or flight response were all waiting right where I left them. You can run, baby, but you sure can’t hide! It’s incredible how a few rough patches with my kids, or my husband, or a glimpse of exclusion on Facebook, can erase all the sparkle and steam I gained– from wrangling glaciers, discovering Vikings, meeting really cool people who thought I was equally cool, and generally living in my own happy groove for a while. It took a hot, miserable minute… And some key bad words.
No sooner had my two eldest children arrived home for the summer, and the power plays began. A fight “to the pain” (if you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, you should) over where shoes should be put (In your locker or in the garage, not on the kitchen floor); when dishes should be cleaned (When you’re done eating. Period.); who should clean something up (Ideally, the person who made the mess, but whatever– not me. Figure it out.); and, get this one: whether I am allowed/entitled/justified to weigh in on matters that are taking place in my house, but which don’t directly involve me– For instance, whether I’m “allowed” to say who’s turn it is to do the dishes, take the car, etc.– according to said grown kids.
If you’re shaking your head and thinking that I’m a pushover, you don’t have grown children. And, my kids would have you know that I’m much more demanding than “any of their friend’s parents.” That makes a lot of you the pushovers, apparently. If you’re shaking your head and thinking that I don’t have the confidence I should have, to stand my ground and not be sucker punched by grown kids, who aren’t necessarily entitled to be living at home at this stage– well, you’re right; but, again, I’d counter with: you probably don’t have grown children, or you’re a boxer.
It just isn’t as easy or clear as I thought it would be, when I was raising my three young children. That was tiring: Mommy can I have…; mom can Alison/Max/Mike sleep over; I’m scared/hungry/not tired…; I don’t like that; Mom! Little Man/Principessa/Middle Man called me a jerk/baby/loser/pain; Can I get my ears pierced, a guinea pig, an Xbox36o– Alison/Max/Mike did! etc. I can’t deny it; parenting young children was wonderful, sweet, frustrating, demanding– but above all, it was exhausting. At the time, I resented the “older moms” (read: mothers of older kids) who told me how easy it was with little kids, and how much harder older kids were– that I should enjoy it; it would be over in no time. Now that I’ve been there, done that, I know that this just isn’t true. It is in fact over in no time– “no time” being a long blink, that only feels short, after you’ve refocused your vision. But like marriage, parenting is inherently hard work. If you grow up, decide to get married, and create a family, you need to know that it will be hard work– beginning to end. If it isn’t hard at least sometimes, then I wager you’re missing the boat, or raising a turtle. Turtles are pretty easy.
Raising good human beings shouldn’t be easy; it’s too important.
That said– and again, having been there, done that, I admit that it would be a bit easier if my own self-esteem wasn’t so chronically weak, and if I wasn’t so willing to pitch my own needs aside when challenged by those I love most. I’ve heard a thousand times that: you’re their parent, not their friend; stand your ground– don’t negotiate with terrorists; be consistent and follow through– Countless excellent parenting gems have crossed my path, but making them work is another story. Self-esteem is my Achilles Heel, and the troupes figured that out a long time ago. They are smart human beings, as well as good ones. I may have come home from BlogHer14 with Arianna Huffington’s words ringing in my ears: “No, is a complete sentence,” but that message is lost in translation with my almost adult kids.
Things have changed enormously since I was walking their path, and I don’t really believe we’re headed in the right direction. When I finished high school, it was clearly understood that the door did not swing back open for anything more than a visit. My peers and I went off to college with the expectation that we would be working in the summers; that we’d get apartments and roommates (a critical first step in navigating the world), and we wouldn’t be moving back in with our parents. Returning home during college was not ideal, but certainly after graduation, it was the walk of shame– and I was determined to not go there. I lived in a few really awful apartments; I had some lousy roommates, as well as some wonderful ones; I ate macaroni and cheese for an entire summer, trying to save money. I worked really hard, but I earned my independence, and I grew up. I did not live with my mother.
I’m surrounded by other parents scrambling for cover, just like me, as we negotiate with semi-grown kids, who come home and think their parents are their roommates, and “grown-up” means having survived a year of keg parties. Hey, I left my dirty beer cups and snacks in the lounge at our dorm, what’s the problem with leaving stuff in the sink? What’s wrong with my shoes on the kitchen floor? I’m just going to wear them again, when I’m done doing “stuff.” And the infinitely ambiguous: I will. (When? For the love of all that’s holy, what does that mean?) It’s exhausting! If you’re kids are that minority, who come home and get good jobs, clean up all their stuff, and speak respectfully all the time, then clearly you are entitled to scoff at me. However, I imagine there are a few more parents nodding along right now. But I forget all about these other parents, when I’m fighting my own battles, and I just feel like an isolated failure.
For the record, I didn’t start out the summer feeling deflated. I started with a bold statement that I thought would make things clear:
I’m not your roommate; I’m your landlord!
But, my kids know that I will blink first. They love me, but they also see me through their unique, twenty-something prisms. By their reckoning, I am unreasonable (What does it matter if my shoes sit there a little longer?) and demanding (Please put them away now!). I am clueless and lame. I can’t keep up with their gigabytes; Gap years; texts; plugged in-tuned out attention spans, their technology, and their attitudes–> Clueless. Lame–>Me. I wanted to raise free-thinking, independent kids, but I want them to do as I say in my house*. I wanted them to explore the world, but my heart fractures when they fall in love (with a person, place or thing) and leave*. I want them to check their expectations at the door, but I run around making their favorite meals and ultimately seeking their approval*. I wither when communication crashes and they say, or suggest with a well-honed look, that I am in fact unreasonable, demanding, clueless and lame, and apparently hypocritical*.
Worse, if we come to verbal blows, the fallout is crushing. As a mother, I may know that my child is actually anxious about big changes and new directions, and that his/her nasty mood and careless words are not directed at me, but stray shots leave me bleeding out. When I feel myself losing the ground I thought I’d won, I lash out with angry words (enter the “key bad words”) and injured statements; they in turn reload and take closer aim, causing wounds much deeper than they know. It’s not their job to know, or their responsibility. I’m the adult here. Right? But that self-esteem issue undermines all of my strength and confidence, and when things get really rough, I inevitably circle the drain.
I drive off in my car; I sit alone and stare at the water. I turn on myself, and withdraw from others. I pick at my own scabs and unearth all of the flaws in me, which I imagine must have led to this moment. I cry.
I don’t remember that others read my writing and respect it. I don’t remember that people I admire have asked me to take leadership roles in their organizations. I don’t remember that I climbed a glacier; I navigated airports, train stations, Viking ruins, foreign cities and countless strangers– I travelled thousands of miles and had endless successful adventures this summer. I forget that I came home from the BlogHer14 conference feeling inspired, capable and empowered. That all dissolves with one dismissive glance, an angry tirade, a strategically placed land mine: “Mom you’re so unreasonable/lame/clueless.”
I stare at the water, until I rediscover my bearings. Inside, there is a kernel of strength, that helps me bounce back, that helps me staunch the bleeding. I’m not irrevocably damaged or flawed, and somewhere inside I cling to that, and keep working on myself. “You come from strong stock;” my aunt’s words replay in my head, and help me heal. “Your writing really helped me;” a young, grieving reader’s comment pulls me back to solid ground. “Mom, not many other mothers would go on an adventure like this!” My own son’s matter-of-fact verbal hug shimmers from the corners of my self-destructive mind. I sense a shift, as I lick my wounds and turn away from the sea.
And I begin to reclaim my ground again, and work on myself… some more.
Times have changed. Kids are coming home, and they have some attitude. It’s a different generation, with new challenges and issues to deal with. In many ways it’s harder for them than it was for me and my friends, and in other ways, they have it easier. The economy is tough; a college education doesn’t guarantee a job, and kids return to nests in ways that my generation would not have considered, confident that their parents will welcome them home. It’s not easy, and I’m not alone. I’m not the best mother in the world, but I’m not the worst either. You know kiddos, I may be lame and sometimes clueless, about things you find simple. I may be lame, and clueless, unreasonable and demanding sometimes; I may be all of those things, but you still came out of my vagina– So check your attitudes at the door. My door.
Are you parenting older kids? Are you cruising along, or flailing in the water with me? What has worked, and what doesn’t? I’m not looking for reassurances that I’m a good parent, thanks though. I’ve said it before, this is where I work my shit out. Thanks for riding along.
• • •
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I really enjoyed this, thanks. Although I feel like parent to many college aged kids, I probably can’t weigh in with much in the way of personal experience. We are feeling the struggle/necessary balance with a 15 year old who is now living with us. It’s been like fast forwarding a decade. One thing I have admired is the way my parents did it. They were not “suckers” for us at that age, which caused us to be very grounded with no arguments between us, and now that we are grown, settled, and moved out, they “spoil” us. We are very lucky! Here’s wishing you many more years of navigating hopefully not-too-choppy waters with your kids, and reaping all the good seeds you have sown. Also, that one day soon, they will not only acknowledge, but fully appreciate the heart and soul you have poured into your relationship with them. You rock!
**I am on my phone and exhausted, so I hope this made some kind of sense. 🙂
Nissa, thanks so much for this wonderful comment! (I deleted the 2nd one, so no worries 😉 ). I thought, THOUGHT, we were not being “suckers” when they were little– they would all confirm that we were firm, and didn’t spoil them– but I hear similar stories to mine, from so many parents of older kids! And by older, I definitely mean after high school! That said, I’m dying to hear more about your 15 year old. I had no idea! That must be “interesting.” Hopefully, just for the summer?
I know my kids will be great adults one day; I can see the kernels already, but this in-between stage… Arrrgh! Thanks for your kind words and support. xo
It is tough to make that transition from having one’s needs being taken care of to striking out “on one’s own”, sometimes conveniently forgetting the ones who got you there in the first place. It’s going from one type of self-centeredness to another, and it often takes some life experiences, maturity, and time to get it all straightened out. But you are right- it will happen!
The 15 year old moved in with us in May. He will be spending the upcoming school year with us, and maybe the rest of high school. Not sure about that, because he doesn’t even want to be in school. He has a tough background and just really needs to be with a loving, stable family unit who want him and enjoy his company. He doesn’t like being alone, so it can get challenging, juggling his needs with the other things that take up our time, but if there’s anything the two of us are up for, it’s a challenge! My parents are in the process of buying a house in Bellingham, and we will be their property managers as well. Lots of new things we are making room for this year. The 15 year old gets along well with our other boys, so it’s just like having 4 sons now, 1 considerably older than the others. They even fight like they’re brothers! 😉
Nissa, wow! I had no idea about this new development in your family, and I’m amazed! YOU amaze me! It’s inspiring what you and your husband take on and how wonderfully you handle it all. You have always really impressed me – your generosity, your warmth, your willingness to help so many. What a true mitzvah this is, and I certainly hope you’ll call me if I can help in anyway or is your new son. I have a little experience with teenagers. 😉 Will he be in the public high school? Again, wow!
(Yep, and my phone showed that it didn’t post the first time, so I reconstructed my comment, only to see that now it’s posted twice. Hey, I may be getting old, but my memory is still fiiiine! That ^^ is almost word for word.)
You, my darlin’, are still a baby… and your memory and mind are just wonderful! It’s technology that’s challenged. 😉
Dawn, I’m so sorry you’re having problems. I had different problems as my husband is bi-polar. In some ways, that helped our kids to mature. He couldn’t save money so they had to finance their own educations. Our son moved out to live with male friends the year after he graduated high school, took a gap year, then went to college part-time while working. Our daughter knew home was best for a while and finally moved out in her third year of college. She shared a house near the college with two female friends.She had taken a loan to pay for college and worked, but not as much as our son. Our kids had worked part-time jobs while in high school. That prepared them for when we moved to India, and they were entirely on their own. My husband, while employed, usually changed jobs every two years. It wasn’t always his fault. One big company closed down their entire R&D department and sold the building. Sometimes he differed in opinion with his employers. In between jobs he’d take unemployment and either look for another job, or go back to consulting. He worked until consulting jobs dried up and he retired and went on Social Security. I was also working. It seems we all have our crosses to bear even though we think others may have it easier. They’re probably just suffering in silence. I, like you, don’t believe in suffering in silence. I also find writing about it helps. Basically, your kids seem to be good young adults, so I’d say you’ve done your job well. They’ll mature as they grow older just as we did, and they might go through the same thing with their kids. You can then sit back and smile. 🙂 —Susan
Wow, that’s quite a story, Susan! Glad it wall worked out ok, despite some real challenges. Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to the smiling part. 😉
You have said it all here. I love my family to bits, but the way they see me drains my soul. Having them all around all of the time over the holidays limits my recovery time so is hard, not physically but mentally. I wonder why this is so rarely talked about.
Thanks! Yes, I don’t seem to read much about this from others… though I hear it. I wish there was more open dialogue, across “venues” so that more of us could connect. I’m sorry you’re struggling with a recovery, on top of this issue! Admittedly, having everyone around really cuts into my alone time… which I need, to recharge. Thanks for sharing!
I respect your courage to bear your soul to your readers. It’s hard to fall, but it’s even harder to get up and move on. And trust me, you are not alone. Although we may not share the same story, we share same fears and insecurities.
Thanks so much for that reminder! It is reassuring to know that others experience the same thing, or at least understand. As for court courage, I’m not sure it’s correct as much of stupidity. I’ll let you know later. 😉
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Thanks for that reminder, it does help to know that others understand or share the experience. As for courage, I’m not so sure. I’ll let you know later! 😉
Oh, that was painful. Because I’m the exhausted mother on the other end of those growing up adults. I want them never to leave but am naively looking forward to showing them how to scrub toilets. And because I like you and respect you so much, I want to sit down with your amazing kids and say, “Guys?! Seriously?!” And I want to tell you to throw their shoes out on the lawn or collect them and charge a dollar for their return (remember I worked in boarding school dorms for 9 years, it totally works, although feels draconian the first 2 times…) most of all, I want to say I’m glad you drove away and found your kernel. We all need to nurture that kernel.
And on the upside, I chose to live with 79 high school girls for $18,000 A YEAR after college graduation rather than live with my family. Your kids must love you and your loving home pretty well to return to that nest.
Thanks so much Jen! My mother had a tendency to throw our things out the window, and it was indeed draconian. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had a hard time doing it myself. I tried putting shoes out on the deck for a while, but that didn’t do the trick. I know you’re right, and if done to make a point, rather than out of anger it would have some impact. As they get much older, however, it’s harder to do those things. They’re adults, so to speak, and it isn’t enough to make them really care. Their responses to my actions, are often not worth the effort! Maybe it would be best if you come and talk to them. 😉
My husband and I were just driving along discussing your post (seriously!) and we came to this conclusion: your friends don’t say mean things to you and leave their shoes on the floor, nor do house guests, at least not ones who get welcomed back. So maybe you give them options, they’re your friend, they’re your house guests or they’re your kids and they can pay you $1 every time they want their stuff back that they left out all afternoon and that you stashed somewhere. Ha! (Seriously. Good luck with this. They sound so terrific in the aggregate that I bet they’ll be so bummed in 10 years when they look back…)
They are pretty terrific “in the aggregate,” and maybe they’ll get it one day… somehow, I must say, the $1 thing works a lot better with little kids and teens. Once they leave for college, they just laugh at these efforts. And then point out that whenever you happen to leave your shoes out. Arrgh! That one gets me Every. Time! I love that you and your husband were talking about it, though… thanks for the support, Jen. I appreciate you taking the time to read and ponder these things. 🙂
Yeah, I’m right there with you. I have found the following helpful of late. Maybe you will too.
I’m currently listening to her book on tape “The Gift of Imperfection” and it’s got some great information regarding parenting. Just so you know, Brene is NOT a 10-step, here’s how to do it ‘right’ writer. I’ve already read all of those kinds of books and they have done absolutely NOTHING to help me. Brene has a different message relating to your comments about self-esteem. I think you’ll like her.
Grace and Peace to you and yours,
Cindy, thanks for this wonderful link and the supportive suggestion. I really appreciate the encouragement! I’ve been working on this for a long time, but I feel ready to make steps in some new directions. I’ll look into Brene and her work. The idea of the books on tape is especially good. Thanks! D
It’s always hard and not fair when an argument turns personal. Instead of dealing with the shoes or whatever, they seem to be turning on you as a kind of diversion, maybe because they know exactly where the chinks in your armor lie. I understand that they’re not bad people and that you love each other very much, but it might be helpful (I’m choosing my words carefully, here) to set a a clear boundary that there is no room for “Mom, you’re lame, unreasonable, clueless or whatever.” While I don’t have children, I do think that adult children might be expected to act like adults, and it doesn’t serve any of you to allow personal attacks about disagreements around behavior in your home.
I also agree with jgroeber. Kidnap the damned shoes and hold them for ransom. If you’re going to be living with them in your home, you do get to set some rules. And they don’t get to ignore them. Right now, it feels like they’re holding you hostage!
There, I’ve said it, Dawn. Good luck!
Cathy, thank you so much for your support! I love that you say what you really think. That said, and for the sake of fairness, because of course this post is from my perspective only, the kids probably could arguably state that I have not always been reasonable either. It would be true too. We have both said things that should not have been said, on a personal level. I am certainly not innocent here!
However, I do not think that my grown children realize how good they have it, living for free today- not paying rent, buying food, or worrying about where they’re living. I don’t think they truly appreciate how good that is. As for respect, I do you believe that things have changed a lot since I was young. When I was younger, whether your parents deserved it or not, you would never speak back disrespectfully. I agree some new boundaries need to be drawn, and some new philosophies about where people live in the summer. 😉 and the shoe policy definitely needs to be considered!
You reminded me of how I used to tell my daughters they only had to pick up the toys/clothes they wanted to keep. After two trips to the Goodwill donation center, I never had a problem with picking up after them. Of course, I was the father, so my role was different. My stakes were higher than their mother’s.
I know you are frustrated with your grown children. I suspect they think of your home as the one place in the world they can let down, kick back and relax on their daily responsibilities. And you are right that they know your weak spots. And they are probably just as outwardly strong (and inwardly vulnerable) as you. Thus, they are capable and willing to take their shots at you knowing you will cave and ultimately forgive them. And you can probably expect that they will not act completely grown up when they come home to visit because your world is their vacation – an escape.
Perhaps expectations at my house were somewhat greater than yours. On the other hand, my children stopped visiting me eight years ago. I guess my home wasn’t nostalgic or relaxed enough. You might take comfort in knowing that your home is. It is never easy, is it?. – Mike
Thanks for that reminder, Mike. I lose track of that sometimes, admittedly. We all have our stories and outcomes, but I guess I would just like to change my family’s trajectory a little. Thanks for the kind reminders. See you soon!
Sorry to hear you’re struggling with this. You deserve a stress-free empty-nest phase. When adult kids return they still need to follow the rules of the home-owner just as any guest would be expected to do. Maybe it’s time for you and your husband to downsize to a one-bedroom apartment. 😉
Admittedly, damned if I do damned if I don’t, Carrie. When the kids are gone I miss them; when they’re home I just want my space back to myself. I’m not sure I am ready to downsize, for my own sake, but when the kids are home I definitely wish there was a guesthouse!
Maybe you’ll find that things are different when your son is off to college and comes home, but I’ll be curious to see.
Nup, no clues, but plenty of sympathy if that counts. You’re right, it is different, and it’s puzzling as to why young people want to waste a summer living at their parent’s house. I needed to move away, I needed the freedom and to call my own shots – I still visited, but I wasn’t ever moving back, no way. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t, because Mum turned my bedroom into the office 🙂
Exactly. Exactly every word you just typed. Thanks Sara!
One of my sister’s two college grads are home. She’s complaining about her food bill and all the cooking, but really likes having them around. I’m a bit envious– with the married ones and one in CA, there aren’t many young people around. I’d say– breathe deep, stand firm, and enjoy it– they’ll be gone again soon enough! hugs….
Thing 1 has already left, and Thing 2 will be off to Israel soon… and then, of course, I’ll be writing posts about missing them. Thanks Lisa! 🙂
Now I’m scared! My Little Man will be 12 in the fall, and when he has friends over I see the teenage attitude come out in spades, (and not in a good way). The big fun hasn’t even started yet!
Eloquently written as always. Wish I could be there in your kitchen when you’re being dealt some serious attitude and stand unmovable on your behalf. (The maritime academy training I did helped me develop a set of balls). One day your offspring will have kids of their own and turnabout’s fair play.
I guess we’ll see, about the future outcome of some of this. I tell them all the time that I plan to show up, and leave my stuff all over their house, and leave my dishes wherever I want. I imagine, I won’t be welcome for long. 😉
As for your little man… well, yes, the fun is just starting. I will say, it’s a wee bit easier with boys, but the teens are just plain old exhausting.
The turtle line got me. Loved it! Our kids can sure wound us like no one else, can’t they? I obviously don’t have older kids, but I am around a lot of “kids” this age now and again. It seems to me that early to mid 20’s is possibly the most selfish/self-centered phase for humans, but they just don’t realize it. I mean yeah, when they are little they are completely egocentric, but that’s because developmentally they can’t be anything else. Yet it stings more when it comes from a 20-something, because they should know better. And this isn’t a bash against this particular generation either, I have no doubt I was a total pain in the ass at this age. In fact, after I had my firstborn, I actually wrote a letter to my mom on my first mother’s day apologizing for all the times I broke her heart…because now I understood just how much she loved me and how hard my ignorance/crankiness/rudeness must have hurt. Your kids have no clue the depths of your love for them….they can’t possibly understand it. It’s not their fault. And those first tastes of adulthood really do a number on a person. Well, that is my theory anyway. And I am obviously qualified to make these statements. Hang in there!
Thanks so much Kelly. I love getting your comments, but I especially appreciate, your balanced, kind comments. Reading some of your updates and posts, I feel a little nostalgic for that age with my kids, but I also love communicating with young adults… when it’s going well. I think none of us really get it until we’re in it… so yes, maybe my kids will have some Aha moments ahead of them too. Thanks! xo
I am holding tightly onto this phase of my kids’ lives…I have nightmares about how hard the upcoming years may be. But that is also why I love that you are honest about motherhood in this stage. It will be nice to know that even though it is hard, it is also normal.
Wait, did I somehow imply that I’m normal? 😉
Wow, what a post! And what interesting comments–good for you to write it and find a subject that so many of your readers want to engage with you on!
As for your self-esteem and kids, I see these as two different issues. No matter what age our children are, we have to take care of our own shit and your self-esteem is yours. I have struggled with other issues that are also deep and inbred and finally started cleaning up (or at least earnestly work on) mine a few years ago when my kids were teens. Having my shit more together helps all my relationships, but especially those with my kids. And it will for you too.
As for your kids, I have a hard time believing that someone as thoughtful and introspective as you would raise manipulative kids, so I am guessing that part of them is just so centered on themselves that they don’t really understand the effects their behaviour is having on you.
This summer we had our 18 year old hormonal daughter traveling with us and then living back with us after her first year at university. She was used to a ton of independence because of going to school across the country AND the fact that we were living in Australia her 2nd semester. (Note: Her definition of ‘complete’ independence and my definition are not the same, but that is another matter ;-). Anyway, she felt some of the demands I placed on her were unreasonable and from her perspective I understand that they were. For example, we want to know where she is and with whom when she goes out, but when she is at school we obviously don’t (well we would like to know, but is it unrealistic and just not doable). She explained to us how “unreasonable” we were being, and finally I had to concede to her that we were being unreasonable BUT this was what we need from her while she is loving at home. And this goes both ways: I am fine about doing errands for her and providing food in the house she likes even though she is more than capable of taking care of these things on her own. In other words it is unreasonable for me to “take care of her” as i did when she was living at home full time, but she still wants some of it.
We talked about how we all need to be comfortable and it turns out, that I had forgotten how self-centered young adults can be. Our son, 5 years older, has turned the corner on all that. So my guess is that your kids just really don’t have a clue (what kid does?) on how their behaiour/attitude impacts you. When presented as a discussion, inviting our daughter to come up with solutions, treating her with respect (and dignity) as well as reminding her that we are not equal, helped lesson the tension and arguments.
Whew, this got long, sorry, but I hope it helps!
Heidi, thanks for this well-thought out comment, that touches on several important points. It’s true that this is a phase, and I do believe that all three of my kids will do very well down the road. They are very intelligent, independent and thoughtful (with virtually everyone else!) people. Most of the time, they are not being manipulative (but, believe me, occasionally they are!), but that isn’t always much of a consolation, when things are particularly bumpy.
I can relate to so much that you’ve shared here. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my piece. It DOES help! 🙂
As the mother of grown (and gone) children. I related. Of course they no longer come home for the summer. I made a lot of mistakes and have a list of regrets from their tender years. However I did raise them to think for themselves and, although we don’t share many of the same views, I take pride in the fact that they do.
I’ve apologized to all of them for things I wish I hadn’t done or said. Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to forgive myself. 😉
Great article. Thank you.
I can relate to every word of this comment, Rochelle. I keep working on myself, and I apologize as much as I can at this stage… and I hope I can move past my own self-destructive thoughts, over time. I know my kids will all do well in life; I love the people they are becoming, but I will be glad when we get a bit further down this road. 😉
Thanks for taking the time for sharing your thoughts and advice; it means a lot.
Glad I stopped by to read this, Dawn. You said so much and the comments have deepened the discussion. I’ve always thought that family is where we think we can act as we want and say what we want and everyone will always continue to love us, while with friends and acquaintances, we always want to present our best side. That’s both good and bad. Maybe we need to, at least in some ways (shoes, etc.) act more like friends to our family members and less like family.
What I’ve noticed, and I’ve felt some of the same things you mentioned, is that because our girls are grown up or still growing up, they have their own ways of doing things, their own opinions, their own likes and dislikes and they bring those to the table, sometimes literally, when they’re back home. That’s what we’ve raised them to do, but it can be difficult and hurtful. There are no perfect families, just families who have learned to deal with their problems better and work them out.
I’ve always been a bit taken aback when parents, usually moms, but not always, freak out because their children are going away to college or to work or whatever. That’s what we’ve raised them to do and the natural order of things. If they have to be home longer because of no job or some other reason, it’s a blessing they have home to go to, but they should have to help and contribute as their “rent.” But go out…and then let me enjoy the time we spend together afterwards. And yes, those visits can sometimes be stressful, another thing to try to work out. But when they visit you, it’s your and your husband’s house and your rules (not denying that can be hard to enforce.)
All the best to you and all of us as we struggle with these issues! Nourish that core and know that you are valued and valuable, even by and to those who sometime hurt you the most.
Janet, thank you so much for this wise and balanced feedback. I know you’ve been in it, and appreciate your thoughts. Personally, I’ve always been excited for and proud of my kids’ decisions to fly far away, even as I miss them terribly… it all just gets a bit mucky when they come home to stay for any extended amount of time. I hate that it’s that way, but it’s true. I just keep working on it, and hoping we all turn some corners soon… as it is, summers are best for me, when I travel! Being home is a bit stressful, and I don’t like that part!
Thanks for taking the time to read this long post and share your perceptive thoughts on the topic… I agree, the comments have really been fantastic! D
I’m not quite there yet, Dawn, but I feel your pain and burden. I think it is a different time with kids living at home with their parents. College takes longer and costs more. Just the other night, I saw a group of kids hanging around a parking lot like it was their living room! Really? I suspect they all live at home with parents and have nowhere else to go. It was a bit sad. I hope that you can somehow isolate all your positive energy and use it for your goals and writing, to not let life zap it and suck it away. But, of course, I’m not there yet, as I said. Currently, I am just exhausted and taking it as it comes. My older son starts middle school in a few days. Yikes!
I think the theme of exhausted is universal among mothers (I can’t really speak to fathers)… it’s a long ride, and clearly this stirs some interesting dialogue! Thanks for joining the conversation, Amy. I love the way your mind and heart work. xo
I am indeed dizzy from nodding my head to all of your points! And the comments are terrific, too. I feel less alone, somehow, in my struggles with a 22-yr-old son whom I miss so much it hurts. But he lives at home – it’s the younger version of him that I miss. I miss the old connection we used to have. I miss how he used to belly laugh when I was silly. I eagerly await the adult version, but he’s not there yet. How easy it is to give advice when you’re not emotionally involved. People always mean well, but they just don’t get it. You do 🙂
And now, it is me who is dizzy from nodding in response to you! I absolutely get it. Thanks Val. xox
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Dawn, what a fabulous writer you are! I’m sitting here nodding like a bobble-head doll, and I totally feel your pain. Although I’ve been “raising turtles” (love that phrase, btw), I have the same situation with my nieces. What we always end up discussing is Respect. We’ve even adopted Aretha Franklin’s song as our “safe word” when one of us is heading toward a meltdown. Don’t know if that helps at all, but it does provide some comedy relief in the middle of a heated situation. Everyone does a great Aretha imitation! 🙂 ~Terri
Terri, thanks so much for this lovely, compassionate response to my post. I love your ideas, though I imagine I would lose some control if I started singing Aretha! My kids would roll over and die laughing! I love that you and your nieces have chosen that light-hearted approach… my brood is way too tough. :-p Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment; it means a lot.
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Hahahaha, loved this post. I’m not even close to being a parent but you have taken the little vague memories I have of when my cousins and I would all swarm whichever unfortunate adult was in the closest premises for that new DS,xBox,Clothes,Book,Movie,Trip etc etc etc . Lovely times (for the little ones). One thing I can say though, is that raising a turtle is not easy. I’ve actually manage to lose mine. Or my sister’s, cause I had already lost mine at that point. It’s either a challenge to my intelligence or the difficulties of raising a turtle. I choose the latter.
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All good practice for the real thing… puppies. 😉 Glad you enjoyed it Duck. xox
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Thanks for sharing my work; it’s much appreciated!