Saturday, January 2, 2010

Only Parent Curse

My husband was an only child as was his father and even his grandfather! My father's sibling was a brother and my Mom's a half-brother she was never close to and whom died in mid-adulthood. Besides my sister and two brothers there is not much family for me to rely on. I suppose in some ways that has been the reason for the new parenting style I adopted after my husband's death. I was always what you would describe a very affectionate, doting, and involved mom to my sons. But when I became an only parent my focus on the boys increased and I became an overprotective and extremely committed mother overnight.

There was no one else to share the parenting chores or worry - mainly the worry. That is what will end up eating you alive. Will the boys make the baseball team, will they pass their math class, will they be safe as they start driving, will I be able to keep them protected and happy on my own? It is a double-edged sword. Not having a partner or family to rely on forces one to take on more than is probably humanly possible. Knowing that you're the only one out there raising and caring about these kids makes one even more committed to the task.

It is very trying to be the only one making major decisions for your children. I have such a fear of making a wrong one. These boys have already gone through way more than most kids their ages will ever encounter. I agonize over my decisions because in the end, my greatest hope is that these boys will be spared more pain and suffering.

I now worry about the boys being able to get into college. What will they study? How will we afford it? What kind of future can I provide for these boys continuing to parent and live on my own? There is no ex-husband to call and say, "We need to meet at the school counselor's office to discuss Junior's bad attitude." Or, "I need some more help here. Can you take the boys an extra weekend so I can have some time to myself. I need to regroup and recharge."

There is such pressure on me to raise these boys to the best of my abilities. But when you can't share some of that responsibility it wears and breaks you down. That is where I'm at right now. No one to mull it over with, talk it out, decide together on the best course of action. Just me.

"It takes two to tango." "Two heads are better than one." Yes, I believe all those sayings. I'm so tired and worn out now. I'm not sure how much I can trust myself with those decisions I have to still make.

You care and care and look out for the kids (even bigger ones) and then there is no one to help you. Just a little bit is needed. A hug, being brought a cup of tea, having someone remember to pick up a needed item up from the store. It is like running around on empty all day, every day for weeks, months, years on end. I just have to keep going for a little longer - gas don't run out on me, we're almost there... And more often than not, the gas gauge IS on empty! There is always a sense of anxiousness inside me, almost a sense of dread. Running on empty, always trying to be ahead of the game to fend off the potential evil forces.

I have come to know that everyone needs someone sometime to lean on and rely on. It is a given. I have needed help and tried to find it but have been turned down. When I told my second husband that I needed help cleaning out the garage to start the house selling process he sneered at me and growled, "You are so weak and pathetic." When I needed help for food and medical insurance, I was turned down for making pennies over the predetermined financial requirements. When I got the job at the big box store it was accepted based on my being given extra hours but that fell through very quickly. The food pantry I went to didn't have enough food to pass out!

And here is some irony - in the new state Sam lives in we would all qualify for free or reduced health insurance without a hitch. We are close to the free qualification but if I had to pay it would cost me only $40.00 monthly compared to the #350.00 I am currently paying out-of-pocket! Is that a kick in the pants or a sign that I need to move?

The point of my ramblings is just that I think all of us have times when we need to lean more rather than having others lean on us. But sometimes it is hard or maybe even impossible to find that. Except I believe I have with Sam. But he has had to move and now the boys are sobbing and screaming and wailing and blaming me for having to leave their school and community. So what is my choice now? They are each getting 3 Fs at the new school and one F on the report card disqualifies them from playing sports for a full year. Here at home they were passing with Bs and Cs.

Sam has given me the greatest gift by calling me this morning and telling me that if I decided to stay here in Illinois he will support that and we will work out a sort of "visitation" schedule to be together on weekends. But he honestly doubts I can make this work financially on my own and it will be expensive to drive back and forth 400 miles on alternating weekends. That will fall into my job category since he works on weekends.

Do I force the boys to move and then deal with the consequences whatever ends up happening because I want to live with Sam and try to assemble some sort of family life for all of us?

I have prayed for my deceased husband and my Mom to please come to me with some kind of message and advice but none have come forth. I have begged the Universe for guidance and a sense of direction but again, nothing is speaking to me. No inner or outer voice. Except to hear the sobs of anguish from my sons. And I am the only one listening. The curse of the only parent whose frustrated cursing is also unheard.


  1. You have such a difficult choice and I certainly cannot advise. I made my mistakes with my youngest daughter when I remarried and had to move. But I had the benefit of an older daughter for the younest one to move in with and finish her senior year at HER school, damaged our relationship. That may not be the outcome in your case--if the boys know it is as it is, they might accept it and be okay. How can you know? How can any of us know if our decisions are correct until years have passed. I hope you get an answer from "above" or where ever answers come from..a gut feeling as to what will be right and work out for all of you. I must say that Sam is quite upstanding and must care for you a lot if he is willing to maintain every other weekend visits. Wish I had the answer...I would love to be able to help you.

  2. Update on my side of the fence. The oldest, while not formally being told of the impending move, is sensing and he really started spouting this weekend. The threats, the sobs, the whole nine yards. We told him that he was still not an adult and as such the adults would make major decisions for him. For everything threat he threw out, and there were many, we told him what the consequence would be. It is funny that you should mention the boys grades failing at the new school. This was one of the threats thrown down. We were told that he would NOT do his school work if made to move and that he would 'flunk out of school'. We told him that was his choice since we know he is more than capable of pulling satisfactory grades. He would lose his sports and probably any chance of attending a decent college but it that was his decision have at it. We also mentioned that we'd come to visit him while he worked at McDonald's since that was going to be the only job he'd qualify for if he went through with his threat. We also told him that we weren't sure if they still rented out rooms at the Y or some such thing but we'd visit him there as well since he would never be able to afford an apartment or house on his McDonald's salary. Several hours later he came back out and said that if it was absolutely necessary then he guessed he wouldn't have a choice. That was surrender for him, at least for the moment. Do I think this is the last time he is going to beat his chest over this? Hell no! He'll just come up with something else that we will have to be equally as clever to keep up with.

    BTW, what state is Sam in? I love the insurance thing. Maybe I should consider moving there! Here its the same as IL, the guidelines are such that there is no help available for anything.

    Hang in there. If thoughts become things then I know you have many people on here thinking wonderful things for you.

  3. Jude - I always love and appreciate hearing from you. You grounded me with your comment about us not knowing if what we decide is right or not until years down the road. I used to tell my clients that we can't beat up on ourselves too much because we can only make decisions based on the facts and what we know at the time. Plus we are only human.

    Many times I have thought of the popcorn and pb&js you ate for days on end. But that has given me strength and courage to fight the fight. If you could do it so can I!

    Kelly - How I wish I could stop over at your place for a drink and some long conversation! Or you could come on over to my little place. I just so feel on the same page as you in many ways!

    Sam and I have had the exact same McDonald's conversation with the boys, although we didn't think of the YMCA angle. In my case, I really do believe the boys aren't doing so well at the new school because they had to move from a semester format into a trimester one. But I talked to the chemistry teacher and she said that last trimester out of 142 students she didn't fail one. She also told me she could drop my oldest's first two test scores and he could do extra credit. I related this all to him but I think both boys just feel over their heads to some extent and unable to see the forest through the trees.

    BTW, IA, although I know you won't want to move that far from the boys.

  4. Right now IA is closer to WI than FL but at least I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Also I KNOW I couldn't do the cold.

    I too would love to meet and have a drink with you!! Maybe next time I go up north I can plan my layover somewhere near you. It always seems I end up with a layover in Chicago or somewhere in the midwest. I don't know if you have access to my email or not through the blog. If so feel free to email me. I can send you my number that way. I too feel a great kinship with you.

    I am so glad to hear the teachers are willing to work with the kids. The fact that a parent comes to them and is willing to explain what is going on in the kids lives usually will carry great weight with a good teacher.