Friday, December 18, 2009

Fractured Family Riding The Hamster Exercise Wheel

My oldest is refusing to speak with me, except to announce that he will be "taking" the van after school to drive the almost four-hour ride back home for the weekend. I am planning to bring the boys back home to the apartment for Christmas break next week. We need to stay here this weekend to help Sam out with his son. He has not seen him for almost two months and works this weekend. If we are not home, the 11-year-old will be alone by himself in a home he has never even seen most of the weekend. I feel it is only fair that we help Sam out. Sam thinks I should let the boys drive home on their own. Letting a just-turned-17-year-old drive the "good" vehicle on his own, along with his 15-year-old brother and then be on their own an entire weekend does not seem to me to be responsible or rational. Too much can go wrong. We are too far away. That is a situation more applicable for college kids, not those still in high school.

I have visions of having to call the police or reporting the van stolen if he storms out of the house. I feel such a sadness and weariness about my sons and their behavior. Both of the counselors at both schools have said that they feel the boys should be more mature and better able to handle this transition than they have demonstrated.

I can point to so many reasons for why I think the boys are acting as they are. I was overly protective after their Dad died; they have not had any significant male role models in their life since their Dad's death; I did not spend enough time with them when I was caring for my parents; they were very hurt by my second husband blowing us off and virtually abandoning us; there were periods after the divorce when I was so grief stricken I'm not sure how much of an attentive parent I was. And some of this too is that they are teens and going through normal acting out and rebellion.

Sam took over my cell phone plan to ease up on my finances and got everyone new phones yesterday, including unlimited texting and internet, which I had blocked because of the cost. The boys seem to find this an expected given. Where we lived, fancy electronics were the norm for the kids. Every family had an SUV and/or luxury vehicle. So that is a part of who they are too. Despite my widowhood status, I did my best to keep up and provide for the boys. They have gone without but then again, they haven't. I was able to do it until the divorce, although on a much smaller scale than two-parent households. My boys got the electronics, although they were used models. They had phones with unlimited texting but no internet. I fixed up an old manual transmission car so my oldest could drive the van, which still looks good despite its 108,000 thousand miles.

I am awaiting a call from the guidance dept. of the old school to discuss options for bringing the boys back. Sam and I both feel that needs to be considered at this point. Maybe this move is not in the best interests of this family. The move was made with the best of intentions. The only thing we are not giving it is time but right now there is not any to have the luxury to play around with. If we move permanently, it will have to be at the end of the month and I will lose my apartment. Both of us adults have to consider the future consequences of the boys not adjusting or fitting in here.

It would have been hard enough blending a family together in a new home even in the same old town. Try doing that in a totally foreign state and environment (rural, farm area). We're just trying to be realistic. At least we tried and made the effort.

My husband's death had such far reaching consequences, well beyond what I ever would have first expected. I wish I had been the one who had died. The boys would never have had to face the financial problems that hit us because of my husband's income and job position. As males, it would have been better for their father to have raised them. And that is based on my overall perspective having been an only female parent of two boys. I think it would have been easier for me to have raised two daughters on my own or a son and daughter.

This kind of death and loss has such far reaching implications for the family members left behind. I just want to impart that the complications, trials and tribulations faced by such families as mine can seem unbearable and endless. I can describe it as being like a hamster on an exercise wheel. The problems and challenges keep piling up and you just keep running and continuing to run to keep up but the wheel really doesn't go anywhere. People have such a finite view of grief. That somehow after a certain time period, life will be restored and whole again. But if you can never go back to the life you had, how will that be possible? No one stops to consider that. And what happens when the new life ahead of you is harder than anything you could ever have imagined? Suddenly you have to reevaluate all of your original perceptions of happiness and contentment.

The complications, curve balls, hardships and challenges keep one mired in the grief. It cannot be escaped because it has overtaken one's life at all levels. In my situation at least, the grief has continued to follow me. That is because there are losses after the loss. And you have to grieve those too. So, my hope for today's post is that maybe in some small way I can spread the word about this reality. Grief can expand beyond the initial death. Families become fractured. Mothers lose hope. Life does not get better, easier or whole after a year of mourning. Sometimes the grief gets worse.


  1. I don't know how anyone could say that after a certain time, "life gets back to normal"--that will never happen. You would be lucky to find a "new normal", but sometimes that is very difficult to attain. Life will NEVER be as it was--it is impossible--because part of that life is gone forever.

    I think you can only do the best you can with what you've got..and yet, at times, that is even hard to figure out.

    Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope that one day, you might look up and realize that you've made it and although it's not what you wanted life to be, it is livable?

  2. Jude - I really needed to hear these words of wisdom from you today. It is so hard to accept that we will never again have the life we've lost. Maybe part of the battle has been that I have been trying to run after that which will never be.

    Everyone can only do the best they can with what they've got. Why do we make it harder on ourselves when life is already so hard? Figuring all this out is indeed a challenge. I guess I don't want it to be one but maybe that is another reality that has to be resigned to. We can be so hard on ourselves. Sometimes things just don't work out and it has nothing to do with us - it is timing, circumstances and the like.

    Thank you for caring enough to comment.