Growing into Me with Bipolar

Posts tagged ‘Mormon’

So This is What Growing Up Means

As usual, I am not actually talking about myself growing up (as that would be far too easy of a topic, since I have not apparently done any growing up yet).  So, I am referring to my pride and joy, my son and daughter, who I have lamented, complained, and expressed joy over right here not that very long ago.  Recently, if you have forgotten or skipped those entries, I have been having issues with successfully causing my son to be more interested in trying to succeed at school, as well as to get him to wait on joining the LDS, as since it is quite a commitment, I want him to be sure he really wants to do it.  My daughter, not so many issues, just the development of the ever-present teen age girl thrust out hip, hands on hip at right angle, with heavy sigh and rolling of the eyes.

So, my daughter thinks I am old and out of touch ( and to be honest, she is quite right, as she and her friends most definitely represent the current culture in its infancy).  At least she she has a good head on her shoulders and usually makes responsible and good decisions.  It is, again, more my son that is worrying me at this time.  Not only does he think I am out of touch, but he thinks now that he doesn’t really need to listen to me and heed what I say.  He more considers it to be  something he might consider instead.  He is failing 4 out of 5 classes.  The only one he is passing is PE.  That is not really my idea of an achievement.  Now that he is identified with the LDS, I can’t say anything about how the world works, how people are, because he changes every statement to “that’s not how it is with LDS”–which is not really the point I am trying to make anyway.  I’m usually trying to explain how people or organizations or bureaucracies or just the nature of man works.  And now, he can  never accept that as something that is generally a truth.  Now, everything becomes a battle about beliefs, religions, and dogma, rather than just a simple explanation of the world.  I feel I have lost him.  I have lost him because my son, the son I raised, was raised to be open-minded, to be able to have a conversation about ideas and philosophies and various people, various societies and various religions, without any need to threaten or be threatened because it is different than what you may have chosen to adopt as your beliefs.  But now my son is threatened by any conversation that includes different beliefs, religions, or cultures.  Now, the only discussion he has is why his chosen religion is the right one.

I know I need to let go. I know my kids are almost grown anyway.  I  know all these years of parenting have been with the goal of them becoming adults and making their own decisions and living their own life and making their own mistakes without me being there to stop them or pick them up.  I think I am having a hard time finding the line between letting them go, and still being there to keep them from falling and to catch them when they start to.  How do I know when to steer them on a different path, or when to pick them up, or when to catch them?  I know I need to let go.  It’s becoming quite obvious, and painful for us all.  Do I hold on at all?  Or do I really let them go, and just help them up if they need it?  All the life as a parent, to me it was always clear what I was supposed to do and not do.  But the truth is, now, I have no idea what my role is, and I feel completely lost and bewildered, wandering aimlessly through the black forest with no idea what I should be looking for.  Part of me wishes they were already grown and leaving.  Part of my just wants this to be over now.  But the other part of me is terrified of what I’ll be when they are gone, since being a parent is all I have ever done.  Without them, this tension and confusion will certainly be ended, but what purpose will I have left in my life?  What point will there be to my continuing on alone?  I fear I will find that I am obsolete when the kids become adults.

No, I was right the first time

I recently posted about reaching an apparently new parenting stage, where I feel like I am losing the loving, caring, sharing beautiful, kind, thoughtful kids I have so enjoyed up to now.  I didn’t see this change coming, although I should have, since they are now both in high school.  I know this is when things really change, but I guess things were so fantastic that I just never considered I would lose them, the ‘them’ they have been.

Today, I took my daughter to the doctor cuz she is having a hard time getting over this cold she has.  She’s had it for over 3 weeks now, and was complaining of pressure in her ears, and has been coughing a lot.  While there, we asked for prescriptions of the samples she had gotten on her last visit, for her year-long allergy-like symptoms.  We couldn’t remember the name, and the doctor had neglected to write it in her chart (Duh!  what kind of doc doesn’t write what meds are given to a patient??!!) , so my daughter was trying to look it up in her history on her computer.  I came over to see if I could help her, and she pushes me away saying ‘i don’t want you to look, i don’t want you over here.  i hate it when you look like that’.  I was soooo soo so hurt, I started crying and could barely finish the appointment.  I was also very angry.  Like triggered angry.  Like I can’t trust her anymore with the real me.  Because now she is just like everyone else.  Now, she is just another person, just like everyone else.  Just like everyone else who only wants to use you, to get from you what they can, and they trick you and make you think you can trust them, that they won’t hurt you.  But they are always lying.  The only thing they want is what you can give them.  They only keep you around for that, and in the meantime, treat you like dirt, disrespect you, and otherwise show you how worthless you are, except for what they want from you.  As soon as they want something, and you give it, then they shower you with adoration and happy giddiness.   Until that wears off.  Then you are worthless dirt once again.

My son is proceeding on his conversion to Mormon.  My ex says to let him act out (we are non religious), because what more clear way of having teenage rebellion than to join a conservative religion when from a family that is non religious.  I saw some sense in that, and so did not try to convince him to rethink his decisions, choices.  But now, he is moving ahead with being baptized this coming Saturday–all of which is a prelude to the final step of total conversion afterward.  I am not against any belief system or philosophy, but I am concerned that he is making life-altering decisions when he is not yet an adult, and that he does not really and fully understand this religion (or any other), and thus is unprepared to make a knowledgeable decision about this.  But again, I am not supposed to say anything.  But I am supposed to give my permission, and I am supposed to show him support, even when I don’t want to give it, and allow this to play out —for what?  for a month?  for a year?  or for several years? or forever?  How am I a good parent by allowing this to happen?  And how am I good parent not to?  Whatever I do, I am wrong.  Whatever I do, will push him further away from me, from how I raised him.  Whatever I do, I am a bad parent.  I am not even necessary to  him anymore, and he isn’t even grown up yet.  All he needs me for now is food, clothes and shelter.  And for me to tell him I’m happy for him making these decisions.  He doesn’t want to hear what I have to say, to get input, advice, to play devil’s advocate.  But he still expects me to listen.  And expects me not to talk.

So you see, I was right for all those years.  I was right that I am worthless.  That I’m just dirt people let hang around for whenever they think they can get something from it.  All my life, every person in it, has been this way.  I have never had a true friend, or a true partner.  I thought my kids would be the ones that I could trust with my heart.  The ones who would never shove me aside, crush me, and hurt me so.  I thought that if they were the ones, the ones I could really trust, that maybe that meant that I wasn’t trash/dirt/nothing.  I thought maybe that meant all those other people who have been part of my life were the ones who were wrong.  That they were the ones who nothing, who can only cause hurt and suffering to others, and that I was not the one in the wrong, the one who deserved to be treated like that.  But I was wrong.  I now see that even your own kids, who you have sacrificed your entire life to give them every benefit, every resource, who love you purely because you are you, will toss you to the curb, discard you as soon as they get the chance.  So, I was right to begin with.  I am worthless.  I am dirt.  I am nothing.  I no longer exist.  I wish I’d never thought that I could.

You have to let go, to see what comes

In addition to having school starting for the kids, and just finishing up moving, I have been having a lot of stress with my kids.  Well, I know for most people, that is fairly typical.  But for my relationship with my kids, it has usually been characterized as ‘really really good’.  I know I have been lucky with having that, but that still doesn’t prepare you for when it isn’t.  My son, A, is 16, and my daughter, H, is 14 (almost 15!).  They are both such great kids (almost real people).  Sure, they have classes they struggle with, and they get a C or two.  But they have always been respectful, caring, towards me.  They are helpful.  They listen when I talk, we don’t argue, I listen to them.  They say (to others) that I am their best friend, the one person they would go to, that they know I have their backs.

But the last month or so has been marked by ‘typical’ teen behaviors; like suddenly my son has decided to convert to Mormon, his girlfriend’s religion.  While I understand his need to make his own choices, to flex his new wings, even to rebel against what is is done at home…I’m not so ok with this that I can just accept it like its a new fashion trend.  I want to be able to accept this…but I just can’t.  Choosing a different (or no) religion is a big deal.  Its more than just ‘teen rebellion’.  If I do just accept this, then ok, we won’t argue.  But I’m still his mother, he is still my kid, and I just don’t think he should be making these kind of decisions.  I think at least we should dialog about it, go over the pros and cons, and the reasons behind why he wants to do this now–are they just to fit in with his girlfriend?  Or is there more to it?  Why this particular religion?  But if I even try to go there, he sees it as me putting him down, not respecting his autonomy.  And when he gets defensive, so do I.  So, we can’t even talk about it now.  I am glad he is so independent. That he knows what he wants, what makes him happy.  But I am not quite sure how I am supposed to be his parent now.  In 2 years, he’ll be moving out, going to college, an adult.  But how do I parent him for these next 2 years–he is too much of an adult to just rescind his ability to make his own choices.  Yet he is too young (in my opinion) to make these adult choices without input from me.  If I just put my foot down, I will drive him even more into making hasty decisions, more away from talking them through with me, more into more rebellious choices.

The funny thing is, I was (I thought) prepared for this stage.  I had prepared myself for if/when my son did drugs, got drunk, partied, had sex.  I was ready for these typical teen behaviors.  But instead, I get something completely different.  I get a son who wants to change religions, and not to just any religion.  I see that compared to the things I was prepared for, I should be grateful that he is not partying, having sex, drinking and doing drugs.  I should see how good a kid/person he is that instead he is converting to  Mormon.  Shouldn’t I, as a parent, be saying how great it is that he is not into anything negative or dangerous–that instead he is into spirituality?  And I am!  I am so happy he is not into anything dangerous or illegal or unsafe.  But just cause he is  responsible most of the time, and mostly mature, doesn’t mean he is ready or prepared to make such big life decisions right now.

And as for my daughter, we have also usually had a very close, tight relationship.  She often comes to me for advice on problems, on feelings, on issues with friends.  And I listen, and I try to answer to what she is really asking about.  I try to support her, and guide her.  And usually, until recently that is, she is receptive and appreciative.  But, again, in the last month or so, this has started to change.  Now, we are commonly either not speaking to each other, or arguing that the other isn’t listening.  She comes to me now with the same kind of issues, and when I try to give her my response, that is not what she wants.  That is not the right answer anymore.  What she wants now is to tell me a situation, and then agree with whatever she says, even if I think I understand the situation and have a different suggestion on how to proceed.  She no longer wants input from me, unless is agreement.  She has always been forgetful, always leaving a mess wherever she goes, and always forgetting what she needs.  I have become accustomed to following behind her, gathering up her mess, and reminding her (repeatedly) of what she needs to have, or do.  This has never been a problem between us, because she always appreciated that I made sure she was prepared, that I made sure she had the things she wanted because I gathered them up as she shed them and returned them.  But now, suddenly, I am not supposed to remind her of anything.  I am not supposed to gather up her shed items from various places in the home and return them to her.  NO, she has NOT begun doing these thing for herself.  Yes, she is still a mess in the making and and doesn’t remember what she needs or where they are.  So, she still needs someone (me) to remind her.  But now, she becomes angry with me if I do.  Then, when she later is unprepared, she is angry with herself and with me for not telling her.  So, I can’t remind her of anything without starting a fight.  A fight where both of us, generally not wanting to argue, just stop speaking.  Sometimes, for a few minutes, but others for the entire day.  And if I don’t remind her, then it’s a fight later on because I didn’t.  So, either way, she has quite really talking to me.  I am supposed to either just agree, or not say anything.  I am supposed to let her fly on her own and  not remind her to be prepared, then she will be angry with me for that, or for not doing that later.

I have reached the last stage of parenting, I know this.  I know it is all new rules.  What I don’t know, is how to keep that deep, true line of communication present between us. What I don’t know is how to let them go and try to fly, and trust that what comes next will different but just as good.  I am really missing the closeness we have usually had.  And I’m really not sure how to do this next part, and I am really afraid they won’t come back and I will lose them.

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