January 05, 2011

How Do You Turn It off?

I said many times that I will have worn many different hats in my life.
I worked many different jobs.
Some I loved.
Some I didn't love very much.
Some jobs were difficult.
Some jobs came easily to me.
But I still say that being a mother has been the most difficult, rewarding, heartbreaking, joyful, and painful job in the world.

The actual act of giving birth is painful.
The first time your little toddler says, "No mommy! I can do it myself!" That's painful.
The first day of kindergarten, when you turn around and walk out the door leaving your little one in the care of a teacher whom you do not know, that's painful.
When you sit on the bedside of the sick little one feeling helpless as there's nothing you can do to make him feel better, thats painful.
Having to watch your teenager go through his first heartbreak knowing there's nothing you can do to ease his pain, that's painful.
Watching your teenager drive out of the driveway without you by his side and relying on nothing but God and luck that he will make it home safely, that's painful.
Having to bite your tongue and keep quiet while they make dumb mistakes in hopes that they will learn lessons, that's painful.

Waking up early in the morning two days before Christmas to find out your son has moved out in the middle of the night without a goodbye, that's painful!
Trying to come up with answers when your seven-year-old daughter asks "Why didn't he tell me goodbye? Doesn't he love me anymore?" That's painful.
When a child who you've known his whereabouts every minute for the past nine years is gone for a week without a word, that hurts.
When he blocks you on Facebook in an attempt to assert his independence, that hurts.


Realizing that it will all be blamed on me because I am the "wicked stepmother", even though that for nine years I've been the best mother that I knew how to be, stepmother or not, that hurts.
Hearing the lies and half-truths that are being spread when I don't know what I've done so wrong, that hurts.
When you hear tales of drugs and other negative things, that hurts.

When there is no remorse no humility no apology no explanation, that hurts.


That's what I don't understand, as a mother, even if it's just a lowly stepmother, how can you turn being mom off?
How, after spending nine years worrying about your child, trying to show him right from wrong, trying to help them learn how to make good decisions, living to keep them safe, trying to instill good values, and mold him into respectable man, do you just stop?

Even though he's 18 and legally a man, how do you stop your heart from breaking when you see that he's making very wrong life choices?

I feel like I'm watching a freight train racing towards a bridge that's been washed out and all I can do is watch, there's nothing I can do to stop it or even slow it down.

I've spent countless hours replaying the past nine years in my mind, searching for what I did wrong or what I didn't do right enough.  I've come to the conclusion that I don't think I would've changed anything that I've done.

I am not the perfect mother, certainly not the perfect stepmother. But I've done the best I knew how to do, loved the hardest I could possibly love, and protected is fiercely as I possibly could.

But sometimes, I guess that isn't enough...

So tell me people, how do I turn it off?

How do I not lie in bed at night awake worrying?
How do I turn off the constant second-guessing that's going on in my mind?
How do I conquer the self-doubt?
How do I extinguish the anger?
How do I stop my heart from aching?
How do you just stop being mom?

19 comments:

Kerri Gallion said...

You don't. You take him to God, over and over and over and over again. I can't count the nights I laid awake when my daughter was drinking and living with her boyfriend and he was abusing her. She was an adult and the police told me there was nothing I could do. Legally, she had to file charges against him. I felt so helpless, and like the worlds biggest failure. But I had to leave her in Gods hands. I am almost to that point with my 16-year-old. Thankfully I have 2 years left, but there are some things I have to back off and let him learn the hard way.
I, too, have a step-son and for 6 years he made life here a living hell. But I now know that alot of that came from how his mother was raising him on the weekends she had him. I think the wisest advice I have ever been given was my mother's not long before she died. She had been raised in horrible living conditions. She told me, "When they are the most unlovable is when they need the most love shown to them." But what do you do when they won't let you? You pray. You still text them and let them know you think they are wonderful and that you love them. You let them know you have their back when no one else does. If they need you, you go to them. I have been in the middle of doing something and dropped everything to go to her. I have cooked dinner for her at 11:00 at night when I didn't want to.
I don't think you can ever shut off being a mom. That's the way God created you.
I hope this helps. I will be praying for you most certainly.

Jake said...

Hi!Found this from your other blog that I follow. I, too, am a step-mother and it is the hardest thing ever. My step-son was an angel his sister not so much. It took me a long time to learn that it was their mother and the things she said when she had them, which was most of the time.
Hang in, he'll realize how great you are and be back!

Virginia said...

Dana,
Your family have been so much on my heart and in my daily prayers since I read that your son had left. I have no wisdom or words to "fix" the situation. All I can do is pray and I am doing that!

Fire Wife said...

It is not your fault.

You did the best you knew how.
You ARE a good mom.

He is making his own decisions, and his decisions ARE NOT YOUR FAULT.

You can't turn off being a mom. As a mom, take him to the Father, in prayer, every day.

{{hugs}}

Chicken Momma said...

You don't. You can't. Maybe this story will give you some hope. My step-brother got really mixed up as a teenager. He was involved in more things that I want to recount. When he was 18 he was so heavy into drugs that he held up a store at gun point for coke money. Prior to this, he had moved out of my mother and step-father's home and said some really mean and nasty things to my mom. Horrible things that cut her to the core. She loved him as was a good mom to him and he still lashed out at her.

After serving his time in prison, he came to her and apologized for everything. He told her how much he loved her and how much he had learned about right and wrong from her.

I think he was a little resentful in his youth because he wanted his own mother to be the one what was stable and responsible in his life. So when my mom gave him those things, he saw what he couldn't get from his own mom. It just took some growing up for him to appreciate it.

Hang in there. (((((hugs)))))

MamaTea said...

Well I had this big response all planned out, but it turns out it is almost word for word what Fire Wife said. This reminds me so much of the path my sister walked and the crud she put my mom through, and my mom feeling so responsible for every crappy decision my sister made. Of course she wasn't responsible for it, but like you said...its hard to turn off being a mom. I'm so sorry you're going through this pain. You will be in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to chime in with perspective from the other side. I'm one of those who left, who made bad choices, who said nasty hurtful things to my parents, cut them off at the knees, treated my step-dad like dirt, worse than dirt, made horrible decisions that I can never forgive myself for making, making my mom physically sick from worry and frustration, basically made bad choices and didnt listen to anyone who tried to lead me down the right path. Know this much. Its not your fault as a parent, you didnt do anything wrong. As a young person I wanted to make those decisions to show I was my own person, to show I could do it on my own and that I didnt need anyone "mother henning" me any longer. After a couple years I realized I could no longer do it on my own, I could not live without family by my side, I could not live a life of destruction so I went back to my family and I will tell you the best thing you could EVER do for him...is to wait, with open arms for the moment he returns. When he returns do not bring up what happened, in time he will spill the beans, he will apologize, he will understand the choices he made were less than honorable. But in the mean time make sure he knows you are there, anytime, anywhere, any circumstance, you will be there to help him, hold him, cry with him, and more importantly just be normal when it all falls apart. I didnt want to spill the beans as soon as I went back to my family, I wanted to have time to sort my thoughts and figure out what the hell I was thinking. There is NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING that measures up to my family waiting with open arms, minds, and hearts. I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart your son is trying to be his own person because I know it is killing you, breaking your heart, and making you take the blame when its all part of us, as children, finding our place in life. Keep your arms wide open, keep your heart warm, and keep the lines of communication open. He will come back to you and it will all be alright. -No longer lost, but found, From Kansas :)

Dana Clover said...

Thank you all.
You have no idea how much your comments are helping me.
I feel much less alone and much more understood.
Who knew that I would find so many great people, all because of a silly little blog.
Your support humbles me. :)

Anonymous said...

I just want to tell you that a child will always hurt their mother because they know you will always love them. It doesn't matter that you have done everything right. You become the villian in order to justify their actions. Just give him time no matter how hard it kills you not to pick up that phone or drive by to checkup on him. The reason he left in the night most likely is because he couldn't face the dissapointment on your face. Same goes forr cutting you off entirely. (I am telling you this from experience.) He was angry at his real mom and I was the whipping post. I am sure he will come around in time but don't push. Long story short mine has grown up married had 3 kids and a great job. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

New to your blogs but habe to chime in. Mother of four all over 20. Yep is does NOT get easier when they are older. As mothers we still have all the same emotions we had when they were two and making bad choices. All you can do is trust that you did what you could and that God has got your back. I have learned (not easily) that sometimes it is necessary for our children to fail. You have to put all your sage wisdom and experience on hold and let them fail. My own mother would listen patiently as I explained all my reasons for my latest mistake and say "Honey I'm sure you will work it out". She was right. I did. You will too.

Anonymous said...

Just read this, and I know its been over a month since your step-son left. There isn't much you can do. you did your best. My only son, left multiple times - we even had to get a CHINS (Child in Need of Services) on him in Mass because at 16 the police can't do a thing. He lived away from us, in foster care because he said we were abusive, etc. NEVER. He has two sisters that don't have an issue with us... so what the heck. To cope: I used to pretend he was away at camp. I know corny, but I had to survive somehow for my daughters. It nearly destroyed me, and my marriage is NOT what it used to be. I finally gave it all over to GOD. and it was the best thing I ever did.
Long story short, he ended up in a facility for boys with bad behavior in NH. We, my husband and I worked our butts off to get him home. Came back to live with us in Feb 2010. In May 2010 he turned 18, got caught stealing something at high school, and left that same night. Leaving a 'love note' saying "hey Mom, guess what? I'm 18 and you can't do anything about it. F(*% you." Nice. So now, I creep on his facebook (he has no idea) and don't like what I see, but can't do a thing, but he is in college... good thing. but not making wise choices. We did our best... and again, I've handed him over to GOD. Don't get me wrong, there are days that I cry my eyes out. But my house is happier without him (sad to say). Some people just can't be together, even if its our own flesh and blood.
Peace, AM

Beverly Davis Pawlowski said...

I stumbled upon your blog as I am going to attempt to make hot dog and hamburger buns. I was intrigued by Mom is in time out and read your post. I have adult sons that I have been estranged with for over a year and feel your pain. I am not or never will be a perfect person but I am and was an excellent mother. It is as if someone kicks you in the teeth and you are left wondering what did I ever do to deserve being treated this way? It is by my choice because I expect common courtesies and an effort to spend time with me. This mother does not appreciate being last on the list when I gave them my best efforts since the day they were born. The good thing is they are good husbands, fathers, and people in general and I hope they live happy fulfilled lives. If God chooses to bring them back into my life it will be when they are able to extend respect to me. God bless you and you are not alone. Beverly :D

lmartinie said...

You have FAITH and PRAY - I recently went through a similar event with my oldest son...he moved out, slammed the door without so much as a thank you mom for the last 18 years, the sacrifice, the time, the worry, the protection and the prayer ... oh the prayer! I had to hear through the grapevine that he had moved in with some girl. I prayed ... then one day he called and said "I'm sorry, can I come home...I have realized that I can't make it on my own." :) He is back home now and as I look back on the last two months...it was my faith and prayer that got me through some really rough nights and days -
This too will pass ... have faith

The Other Me Is Sane said...

My own daughter did the same thing when she turned 18. It hurt me as it's hurting you. But, don't take it personally. It's NOT about you, it's about him!

Daughter is now 38 and we are close as if it never happened. I promise, this too will pass for you.

Read The Four Agreements as soon as you can. It will change your perspective on this and will help you explain to your daughter.

Anonymous said...

Going through a nightmare with one of our sons, age 20. The pain is sometimes unbearable. Someone once said this about St Monica and her BAD boy, St Augustine..."God could not ignore the amount of tears she shed" over him. He became a saint. Hard to imagine. Thanks for sharing; it helps immensely.

Anonymous said...

We adopted two children at ages 2 & 4 only to have them turn their backs on us. The oldest one ran away at age 18 after having an affair with the married manager of the restaurant where she works (who is a year older than I was at the time). The younger one moved out about three years later, went and changed his last name back to pre-adoption status, got a 15 year old pregnant, and then never spoke to us again. I can certainly relate!

Anonymous said...

It will be okay. I realize this is a late comment and hope things are on their way up. If not, tomorrow will be a better day.

Mari Larson said...

You can't shut off being a mother, but I can tell you that given time, things will work out. I went through something very similar with my own son. Trust me, after deliver an almost 11 pound child to have him turn into someone you don't recognize and don't particularly like is painful. So, I waited. I prayed. I cried, but regardless of what I did, it was his journey and nothing I did was going to speed it up or make it easier. My little man has returned to me. He is a grown man and it took some time, but when he wraps his arms around me and tells me he loves me that time is wiped away. Yours will be to. Just know that a mother's love never wanes and a child will always return to that place once they find their own.

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