Question: Dear Luise: My son, who is forty now (I am sixty two) a couple of years ago really hit me with decisions I made as a pretty young mother. We were married and had kids young. After a couple of years of counselling, we divorced, and I moved away. I was young and scared, and I met someone who turned out to be a liar. He was ok to the kids. This went on for five years. I moved a half dozen times, never moving their schools, and although their dad (who said at first he wanted to move), I was a loving mother and worked hard, never critizied them like my Mom did me. He loved me. My daughter, who is a few years younger, thought I was the perfect Mom. Everything was ok until my son had kids in his thirties, who I am really close to (he lives in Calif now. A couple of years ago his wife told me that he was “obsessed” (he is over the top with his kids, 6 and 3. Never diciplines them although they are great kids, super, super sensitive, and sleeps with them at night, gets upset if he, every few months has a night out with friends, and almost cries when he cannot be there for the bedtime (yes, I was always there for that). My daughter is so different. Her and her husband are wonderful parents but are more relaxed. Anyway, his wife told me he could NOT believe I got divorced, moved (actually his dad, who is nice but lazy saw them more. I let him buy me out of my house, so the third of the year or more, when they were with him, contined those relationships with his neighborhood kids for years (5 of them were at his wedding at 31). I was so upset that she told me this. Yu cannot go back 30 years. My son said “if we got divorced I would put up a tent in the backyard. I almost could not work, felt my life was over if my son did not approve of me. My daughter was incensed and told them. After this calmed down, and he aplogized, a year later they were complaining about his dad, who was remarried, living close, and with a 19 year old, that he could go for a few months without seeing the kids. My son’s wife, who came from an intact home, said they were going to “confront him”. I said, no, I don’t want him to go thru that, it really hurt me. She was defensive “I cannot believe that you thought “separating your kids” wouldn’t come back to haunt you. Fact is, they had a great relationshyip with their dad, their four grandparents who saw them all the time. I did the best I could as young and naive as I was (I was not a sleep around, drank or did drugs). It’s like, once he had kids, and with his super sensitive stuff, he went into this meltdown. We are ok now, but I still feel my life is over I only did what I thought was best. I was so naive, years younger mentally than most 60’s and 70’s people who were so much more savvy. Now, I volunteer, I have learned And I don’t judge anyone. They don’t know all the parameters. My fundamentalist Mom who put me down to the kids when I got divorced, called me 19 times a day. I thought (at that age I couldn’t do it without a man), that I could provide a better life. Actually, now his wife (I don’t think they will get divorced) and they love each other, has emailed me that she told my son she would leave if he doesn’t have a backbone with the kids. The kids are great, sweet, but I worry that when they are 13 my son would NEVER have the nerve to not let them go to a dangerous party. Also, even though we never hit our kids, as young as I was, I ALWAYS stood by what I said. If something bad happened, and my son couldn’t go out for a few days, I would go into my room and cry. But, my mom never stuck by anything. A year ago, probably because of the stres, I don’t usually get sick, but I got sick, sinus stuff, a couple of times when I was supposed to babysit. Another time, he mixed up the days on an email, I thought it was the next weekend…..Anyway, it was around mother’s day. “Mom, why are not you here to babysit for me to take my wife out for mother’s Day?” I said, you said the 16th. Nooooo, that was my son’s game. So, on Mother’s Day he sent me a scathing email. “I know you help, but this is the third time”. I was sick. Even thought the last year I am there all the time, and we seem ok, I just CANNOT get over his comments and I want to go back and have the maturity I do now. But, I loved them, was a good mom, they had all of their family in there life (at my ex’s age, probably more than if we lived here. My daughter said, she is so grounded, “Mom, I have a great relationship with all of my family. It’s not like you wre a crack whore who moved to a dump in NY. She doesn’t understand it. Sorry for the long message, and you probably cannot get back to me. But, this still eats at me. Four years ago I had what I thought was a great relationship, the kids loved him, I’m working, but couldn’t move with my long term company that provide d a pension because I could not move with my dad dying and my mom going into dementia, so much stress. I was raised in a guilt -ridden fundamentalist home, a critical mom (though I love her), and stupid as it sounds I would like (I am still attractive and NICE and would like to meet someone) that I don’t deserve a life if my son may not approve of me. I never did this, but I think about death all the time, that my life at 62 is over. It’s better, but these feelings still eat and eat at me. I think your articles are wonderful. J.
Answer: Dear J.: You did your best and you did a good job. Don’t let your son judge you and blame you for his own issues. You know who and what you are…and he is wrong. All parents are humans, not saints. (Please note that he’s not the perfect parent, either.) You deserve so much better but you need to see a counselor about your own issues of self worth. Not to want to live because you are not appreciated is unhealthy and defeating. Remember, “What he thinks of you is none of your business.” That’s all about him, not you.
Please think about coming over to www.WiseWomenUnite.com my Web-forum. It is for women who have issues with adult children and extended families. I think you might find our community very supportive. Blessings, Luise