Summer Single Parenting

I’m tired and ready for summer vacation to be over and for the kids and me to get back to a routine that I can handle.  The older one is already dirtying the nest.  At 21, he’s off and running to every bar with friends at night which I kinda understand, except lately he sleeps during the day and that makes me angry.  The other one, with anxiety, sleeps as well and it’s like I live with two vampires.  I’m up early and they’re not.  We eat dinner together usually which is our time to catch up.  But I’m tired of it.  Are you feeling the same way?

There’s also a tension here since their dad has suddenly been communicating with them.  The older kid wants to believe the lies he’s told by his dad and grandma and they tell a bunch of lies.  When he confronted me recently, I calmly sat down and showed him the facts.  Because facts don’t lie.  People do.  It was eye-opening to him, but it also made him angry and the anger is coming towards me, not at those who lie.  I’m trying to keep a calm demeanor, but it’s hard.  Why would you be mad at me when I’m not the one lying?  I know they won’t confront their dad on stuff because he can be volatile and I’m not that way.  Even though it’s not right, it’s easier to take out your angst on your mom who loves you unconditionally.  I’ve had to take a stand lately because I won’t feel disrespected in my own home.  That’s not happening.  So it’s caused tension here between us.  I hold my kids to a standard that their dad doesn’t and since he refuses to co-parent, it’s all on me.  The disciplinarian, the fact giver, the one who loves you but holds you to your word and to your responsibilities.  It’s a sucky job.  I’d love to set him free and say go do what you want and forget about it, but he lives here and we have rules.  So far, he hasn’t mentioned leaving to live with his dad, so I’m just waiting the last few weeks before he leaves for college again and will be gone for awhile.  If I learned anything from dirtying the nest it’s that this is their way of embracing their freedom and untying the mom apron strings from their lives.  And that’s a good thing.

When he first started college and acting this way, I took it personally.  But now I don’t.  I do my own thing and hold them accountable for what they have to do as well.  And there are consequences.  My newest mantra is, “I’m not a nag.  I’m a resource.”  So I’ve let go of a lot of stuff on the outside, but on the inside, I’m not yet able to let go.  I guess I’m still a work in progress.

Lately, the planetary alignment has me swirling as well.  So much is going wrong in my life that I feel like I’m inside a tornado.  I just keep getting up every morning wondering what today will bring.  Sometimes it’s good stuff, but mostly it’s not.  However, there’s always something good that I can be grateful for at the end of the day so I’m holding on to that.  I may write more about that later, but I’m wondering if you’re feeling that too?

I hope you are doing great.  I’ve not been on lately because I’ve had health issues.  I think it’s from stress so I’m not too worried.  At least for now.

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Get Off The Merry-Go-Round

I allowed myself to stay on the merry-go-round in my head for too long.  I knew it.  I couldn’t help myself because I kept thinking that this go round would be different.  What’s that quote about insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?  Yup, that was me.

Wishing, hoping, praying that this time, this conversation would be different.  It would finally click in his (ex’s) head if I phrased it this way or that way.  But it didn’t.  I was making myself sick and dizzy by staying on the merry-go-round of the situation.  I was afraid to abandon the carousel because in my mind, it was abandoning him, abandoning the relationship, abandoning the life I thought I had.

But staying on that merry-go-round wasn’t good for me.  I spent a lot of time making up conversations in my head of what I wanted to say.  Planning for what if’s and emotionally swinging back and forth from anger to angst.

And all the while, there was nothing from him.  He was probably gleefully living his bachelor life, doing what he wanted and not phased in the least that I was trying to get him to parent with me, to understand that the kids needed him, that there were financial responsibilities that he needed to take care of, etc.  But there was no word from him.  No communication.  And yet, I kept trying.

And what did that get me?  Nothing good.  So if you can learn from my experience, here’s my advice:

You’re not a bad person if you give up.  You can’t do it all and you can’t get him to do what he doesn’t want to do.  Think about it.

You do your job the right way with integrity, with kindness and take care of your own stuff.  What he does or doesn’t do is none of your business.  Really.  It isn’t.  He’s an adult and he’s responsible or irresponsible, but that’s not your concern.  If you need to bring in the lawyers again, then do it.  Otherwise, forget it.

When it’s over, it’s over.  Don’t let him play with your emotions.  Don’t fall for the hoovering or gas-lighting.  It’s just a power play and you’re stronger than that.  If this is happening to you, then go no contact if you can.  And you can.  It just takes discipline.

It’s not selfish to take care of you.  It’s necessary.  A healthy parent for kids of divorce is important.  They deserve that as do you.

Change your thoughts.  Process what you need to and then change the channel.  Your focus is the kids and you!  Not him.

I hope this helps you if you need it.

 

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A Narcissist Magical Spell

He’s good-looking, self-confident and alluring.  He’s charming.  He’s successful.  He’s everything your Mama ever told you to find in a man.  He treats you so well that you’re puddy in his hands.  He’s all about you which makes you think you’ve finally found your knight in shining armor.  He’s perfect!  Everyone loves him and those that don’t, he makes you think it’s because they’re jealous.  Because you want to believe in this fantasy that he’s spinning around you, you don’t question him.  You don’t even realize that he’s vague about some areas of his life because you’re smitten!  And really, it doesn’t help anyway because you’ve found that when you do question him on a tender subject, he feels threatened and shuts down.  And you don’t like when that happens because it feels like the knight that you’re beginning to love has flaws.  You don’t want that to happen because he seems so perfect so you retreat.  And so the pattern begins to set.

He weaves a magical spell.  He becomes everything you’ve ever wanted in a man.  You can’t believe how lucky you are!  Your friends are besotted by him as is your family.  When someone throws a slight shadow to wonder about something he’s said or done, you quickly defend him.  You may even mention it to him and he assures you that that person is not on your side.  But he is.  He doubles his efforts to be the best boyfriend ever and all doubts are put to rest.  How could you have ever doubted your perfect man?

On the surface, everything is great between you.  When you ask him about his family or friends, he tells you lovely stories.  His childhood was perfect.  You may even meet his wonderful family under the circumstances that he designs.  They’re amazing and you feel lucky to be included with such a family.  You fall into whatever social scene he wants because you feel lucky.  You’ve found a man who loves his parents.  They are close and they’ve welcomed you with open arms.

If he’s not close with them, you may hear a story which makes him the victim of someone else’s betrayal and you’ll immediately feel sorry for him for having to have dealt with such meanness.  You’ll nestle in your heart that little boy who’s been broken by the bad people and you’ll hover to protect him.  You’ll let him know that you’d never do such a thing to him.  For after all, they’ve been so awful and they couldn’t have understood how amazing he is.  You’ll defend him, support him and give him all of your love because he’s been through so much.

And the stage begins to set.  The magic begins its web and the rose-colored glasses are in place.  You see what he wants you to see because that’s what you want.  You want to believe in Prince Charming.  You’ve kissed a ton of frogs in your day and this one, well, he’s different.  He’s not like the others.  Sure, he has some flaws like leaving the seat up in the bathroom, but over time, that will change.  You’ll be able to ask him more often when you’re married, to remember that the middle of the night bathroom trips with the light off because it bothers him need to have the safety of a seat put down so you don’t fall into the pot unexpectedly.  The fact that he laughs every time with a chuckle that you don’t quite know what to make of, but still never remembers to put the seat down, irks you, but you’re a firm believer that things will change.

And so it begins…sound familiar?

 

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Lean On Me

Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend…I’ll help you carry on…

A friend invited me over to eat take out on her back patio last night.  We drank wine, ate pizza and talked for hours.  Well, I talked for hours while my friends listened, advised and supported me with stories of their similar experiences.  Even though I wasn’t there longer than 4 or 5 hours, it was rejuvenating to reconnect with them.

We talked about every topic under the sun.  We exhaled all sorts of emotions into the night blooming jasmine scented breeze.  And I felt that spark again in me.  A short flicker, but one I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I think that when we get so huddled in our situations, we limit our thinking.  We isolate ourselves (at least I do) and then it’s like we’ve boxed ourselves in until someone comes along and opens the box or we push our way out of it.  Maybe that’s human nature.  But I know that it’s not healthy and last night’s experience was! because it got me out of my brain.  It let me set aside my thinking and listen with my heart.  The last 2 days of blog posts and comments have helped immensely too.  And I am ever grateful to all of you.

I lost touch with my essence in all the madness.  Fearful of how it would look that my kid failed, the disbelief that it happened, the anger, the sadness, the bereft feeling that I had for him, the disconnection, the anxious feeling I felt in regards to the imagined reaction from my ex and his family to my perception of my own bad mothering because my kid failed while living here so obviously it’s all my fault – had me not thinking clearly anymore.  So tied up in knots, I felt like I was drowning.

That song Lean On Me keeps looping in my head.  I awoke with it this morning and it hasn’t yet left me.  I’m sorry if by posting a few lines of the lyrics that it’s now in your head too.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  A connection thing.  A feel good way to start the day.  Please know I’ve got my arms wide open ready to embrace you all.  Thankful for your taking the time to read and to write to me.

You’ve got a friend in me….and so do I in you.

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Single Parenting Older/Adult Kids

Thank you for reading yesterday’s post and thank you to all who took the time to comment and to share your experiences.  I can’t tell you how much better I feel after reading all that you wrote.  When I felt your support and read your wisdom, I felt like I wasn’t so alone in this situation.

Because I have to ask myself the question –

Do I know what’s right for my kid?  At 19 years old, does he have a say in the trajectory of his life while he’s living under my roof with me paying for everything?  Am I obtuse in my thinking that to finish college in a timely manner is the only way to go?  Because now he’s failed one full semester so he’s already behind his friends/peers.  What I thought would keep him studying was that he didn’t want to fall behind.  That he would want to celebrate life’s accomplishments at the same time as his friends.  But when I realize that he’s lost many friends because they went away to school and because he wasn’t involved in the community college, his friend group has diminished.  So whereas that would be important to me, finish college on time, it’s not such a priority for him.  Or maybe that’s just my thinking about what he’s thinking…

The right balance of letting go and being there to be supportive and not smothering is the key I think.  I’m so glad he has an appointment with his therapist this coming week.  And I have one with mine which will help me.

Be thankful if you have adult kids who aren’t rocking your/their boat.  Especially today because I’m still reeling from it all.  Thanks for your support, caring and kindness.  Happy Saturday to all.

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College Kids, Anxiety And What Can Happen

I’ve been asking for the past semester’s grades from my kid who left University and came home to the local community college in January.  He has anxiety and is on Lexapro.  He has some depression as well after the divorce.  Frankly, he’s been a shell of the vivacious kid who always asked, “Why Mommy?” to everything.

I thought that in his moving back home to commute to the local college that he could have the comforts of home while I watched him.  There have been suicides in my family tree (none close to me), but I am always worried about that even though he’s not shown signs of it.  However,  you never know and I can’t have that on my watch.  So I’m watchful.  I’ll admit, I’m annoying and a nag at times.

He didn’t like his classes, nor the community college.  He’s really bright so he thought the teachers, the classes and the work were beneath him.  I kept telling him that if it’s so easy, he could get A’s and move on to another college in the fall.  At least that was my trajectory.  Instead, he lost momentum.  I nagged him to go to class and to do his homework.  He asked me to stop nagging him and assured me that he would do it.  So I stopped pushing since I wanted him to have the freedom to choose to do his work and he kept saying that he wanted to be responsible.  He told me that he was responsible and to stop treating him like a kid.  So I did.  Instead, he chose not to do it.

Sometimes he was too sick to his stomach to go to class.  He had anxiety and it manifested in nausea.  He would look at me with those sad eyes pleading to let him stay home.  Sometimes I did.  Sometimes I didn’t.  Now I wonder if during those times that he was supposed to go to class, did he?  Or did he just leave in his car and go somewhere until class was supposedly over.  I may never know.

What I do know for a fact is that he didn’t pass any of the classes he took.  Not one.  All F’s.  For a kid who never got an F before, he’s devastated.  As am I.  And I want to ask him how he’s surprised when he knew what was expected in each class and how much work he did.  The problem is that he’s very smart and never had to study before so that wasn’t the issue – the issue were the papers that he couldn’t be bothered to turn in or to do and the classes that he missed because attendance counted.  He wasn’t motivated and he chose not to do it.  Whether it was the anxiety or the depression or just plain laziness or stubbornness, the fact remains that he failed all the classes.  And I am having a hard time with it.

I’m trying not to lose my cool or have a meltdown.  I want to scream though and I want to ask him WHY???  incessantly as he did to me when he was younger.  When I did ask WHY? he shook his head and mumbled I don’t know.  Then he just hugged me.  And what else is a Mom who’s riddled with guilt to do except to hug him back.  Because we all make mistakes.

But that’s no excuse.  I was raised by strict parents who demanded A’s and would have lost their minds had anything lower arrived on a report card.  I remember the first C I received and how all hell broke loose for weeks afterwards so I tried never to do that again.  Part of me wants to let out my inner parental voice that sounds just like my own parents and berate the kid for failing.  Make him feel so bad that he does better.  But he’s not wired that way and I hated it when it happened to me.  It had the opposite effect on me than what my parents intended.  It made me shut down and feel belligerent although I still got good grades because I didn’t want to be hit again.  And I have never hit my kids because I hated when it happened to me.

He sees a therapist weekly and I’ve already informed the therapist of the recent events.  He’s a good guy so I’m sure he’ll be in touch sooner rather than later.  Thanks for reading and letting me vent here.  My ex doesn’t co-parent nor keep in touch with the kids so I’m on my own.  I’m embarrassed that my kid failed.  I’m sad about it.  I’m madder than hell about it.  I feel guilty that I had no idea that he was failing because he wouldn’t let me see the grades and colleges don’t allow you to see the grades without the kid’s permission.  What the hell is that?  I mean, guess who’s footing the bill?  ME!  And maybe, just maybe we could have gotten him some help instead of me realizing all too late that I just threw my money out the window.

I know, I know.  There’s always a bright side to learn from your mistakes.  But damn, I’m sobbing here.  I’m tired.  Overworked, upset, feeling guilty, wanting to lash out because of the situation we are in because his dad left us and all the messy bunch of emotions associated with it.  I feel like I failed the kid too.  I wasn’t on top of the situation enough.  I didn’t monitor him.  I wasn’t a good single parent.  I can’t take away the anxiety and depression that came after the divorce so I’m guilty of everything.  I could go on and on berating myself.  But that won’t help in the long run.

I told him that we need to find something that works for him because obviously, this situation didn’t.  I don’t know what the answer is but we will find it together.  I told him that he’s not alone.  And he’s not.  Obviously a cry for more help?  Help was here and help will stay.  I just don’t know what the next step is except to make another appointment with the therapist.  And I will.  Tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

If you have experienced anything similar, please don’t hesitate to comment.  But if you want to beat me up for being a bad parent etc., please keep it to yourself.  I can do that quite well on my own.  I don’t need to feel worse in that area.  Thanks.

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Happy Mother’s Day To All Women

I know that traditionally Mother’s Day is for Moms.  But there have been women in my life who have mothered me and aren’t ‘Moms’ because they’ve never had kids and certainly aren’t my mom either.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all of the…

Step-Moms, Pet-Moms, Like-a-Moms, Moms-to-Be, Adopted Moms, Grandmoms, Mom Friends and All the Moms in between.

Today, I want to honor all of the women who have mothered me over the years when I needed some extra mothering.  Because I have needed extra mothering.  Haven’t you?

Especially now that I’m divorced, I’ve found that there are just sad moments when I need a little extra caring in my life.  You  know, like the good moms do.  They hug and push your hair back from your wet cheeks after you’ve been sobbing.  They’re the ones who cup your chin in their palm, make you look up into their eyes and smile at you with love.  Usually they tell you something inspiring when they do that or at least tell you how much you are loved.

Maybe I’m just remembering how I wanted to be mothered because certainly nobody’s done that for me so dramatically.  But I’ve had friends who have mothered me by giving me a hug and holding me for a few minutes while I cried.  And I’m so grateful for them.

Because when you’re a single mom, you’re all you’ve got.  You’re the alpha and the omega.  You’re the pillar of strength and if you need a hug, well, hug yourself.

It takes a village to raise kids and I’m grateful for the village I’ve got which includes a bunch of friends who I can rely on and who can rely on me.  We’ve bonded as women, friends and extra moms.  Because you just never know when you need to be mothered.

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Managing Expectations Vs. Reality Single Mom Style

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and I’m engaging what I’ve learned in order to survive it.  Managing expectations vs reality.  Because my rose-colored glasses expectations would be the boundless adoration of my kids, a meal out without me cooking or cleaning up (along with a glass of wine and a good steak) and some quality bonding time with the kids after having opened beautiful cards full of love and gratitude for all the sacrifices I’ve made throughout their lives.  Yes, I live in my fantasy world sometimes…and I like it there.

But it doesn’t help me when the reality is quite the opposite.  Single Mom of 2 college kids who are still in the thick of exams means the full adoration party isn’t going to happen.  I couldn’t help myself and I did let it ‘slip’ that it’s Mother’s Day weekend in case they didn’t know.  Now I have to lay off and allow whatever is going to happen to happen.

I’m keeping my options open, but I’m also not going to sit on the couch alone in a pity party.  While most of my friends will be celebrating with their families, I’ve got a tentative date to Starbucks drive thru for a mocha frappuccino and a slice of the lemon pound cake which is a favorite pick me up treat.  Then if the weather’s nice, I’ll take a drive and maybe go to a farmer’s market nearby so I can pick up some flowers for myself.  I am pretty simple in my needs/wants and some peonies would do nicely.

What about you?  What are you planning for Mother’s Day weekend?

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Narcissists Spin The Story

To keep you on your toes, narcissists spin the story of whatever they’re telling you.  Listen closely, because depending upon whom they’re talking with, the story may change.  Outright lies, embellishments of the truth and even small nuances are part of their cleverness which keeps the non-narcissist baffled.  The scope of the audience is also a factor in how the story changes, depending upon the need of the narcissist for adoration and attention.

I chalked the story telling discrepancies up to forgetfulness or his need to brag when he wasn’t feeling very confident.  “He just stretched the truth a bit,” I would think when I knew the dynamics of his audience and imagined that he felt a little inferior, so he was boasting.  Sure, I would raise my eyebrows when he did it or downplay after he told it in order to smooth the truth into the story.  But that never went over well with him and our relationship deteriorated until I found myself just allowing him to embellish and I stayed mum about it.  My friends knew the truth, so to me, that was all that mattered.

But as time went on, the embellishments grew exponentially to outright lies.  Stories would vary extremely.  It was as if he didn’t remember the truth.  Answers to point blank questions from me became some version of the truth until I completely stopped believing anything he said.  I had put my head in the sand, constantly giving him the benefit of my doubts, before I caught him in too many outright lies and then I had to face facts.

The narcissist is an illusionist.  Even when confronted with cold, hard facts they will not relent.  They will twist the story to evade blame and make it someone else’s or even better, your fault in misunderstanding.  It doesn’t matter how small the fact is that they’ve lied about as it can never be their fault.  Narcissists are not to be criticized, otherwise you will be punished.  Because in their heads, you deserve it.  You doubted them – even when the facts say otherwise.  It is a personal affront and you will receive their vengeance for your disloyalty.

As an empath, you can drive yourself crazy with this lunacy.  You don’t know whether you’re coming or going.  You know the facts, but this is your beloved so maybe there’s a reason why what he’s saying doesn’t add up.  You question yourself over and over again.  Then you begin to use your detective skills to sleuth, citing that you just need to know if he’s really lying this time.  Over and over, the truthful facts outweigh the stories he’s telling you and everyone else.  No more giving him the benefit of the doubt, even though in your heart you want to believe in him.  Until you can no longer.  And it’s over.

Caveat:  You can still be triggered to wanting to believe him even years later.  But stay strong.  Stay centered.  Do not waver.  He has not changed his stripes.  And he knows what works with you even today, years later after you broke up.  Do not be fooled.  Facts are facts no matter how he may try to twist them.

 

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