Question: Dear Luise: My oldest son met a girl about 2 years ago and our home life has never been the same. He is now going to be 23, and has kicked all of us out of his life. Why? Because we finally decided to no longer allow ourselves be held hostage by his gf and her dramatics. A few examples: my youngest son had his 18 birthday, when they arrived just as he was blowing out the candles she had to have something else to drink (this was a typical ploy of hers, so we made sure to buy her five favorite drinks beforehand)but to no avail, she made them go buy her drinks right then and there and ended up drinking what we bought anyway. At the birthday dinner, she had kept making sure all the attention was on her. She constantly belittles my son, (her bf) by calling him kid, he is older than her, tells him how to do his job causing strife between him and his boss when she was fired from the only job she ever had after 6 days for poor attitude and missing 2 days work in six days. To hear her tell it the manager picked on her. Try to fix something nice to eat when you invite them to dinner and she tells you how everyone in her family can fix it better then she feigns sickness.(I should mention I attended chef school) When our son invited us for dinner at their house he made everything, and before it was done and as he was setting the table she started eating other stuff without waiting for the rest of us! Try playing a card game or board game with her and after 15 minutes she up and quits the game, she does not tell you this, you have to figure it out when she does not return to the table. He bought her an engagement ring, she insisted on picking it out, and afterwards, not only did she decide it was not pretty enough to wear she decided she wanted his ex-fiancées engagement ring too! She snooped through his things and found it, once she found out the cost of it she insisted on having it with the other one too. The latest? The thing that got us kicked out of his life? We moved away 1500 miles, of course this happens as she finds out she is pregnant with our granddaughter. We had to move quickly as my partner was transferred and needed to report to work within two weeks and mind you this was during the holidays. So we stored most of our things and took only essentials with us. We planned on returning in a few months for the rest when her work time allotted it. This was spoke about with our oldest son and his gf, we were so excited to know we would be coming back in a few months to see them and see how the pregnancy was going. To be supportive we purchased a nursery furniture of their choosing for nearly $300.00, and were so eager to see the nursery when we came to visit. The plan for three months was we would arrive on a Monday evening, (we caught our flight at 6 am in the morning and was on the plan for 7 hours meaning we woke at 4 am) we arrived around 2:30 pm, she was supposed to pick us up at the airport and take us to the uhaul station, we said we would give her gas money, it was 8 minutes away. We were going to take the truck to a hotel since they never once offered to have us stay in their 3 bedroom apt (nevermind every bed in that apt we had given or bought for them, but we never said a word) and that evening we were going to take them to dinner someplace nice of their choosing, since they could not bother to invite us to their house for a meal (although when her family drives to see them 45 minutes she fixes one everytime, please keep in mind we traveled 1500 miles) and the next morning we were going to pay our son $200 to help us load our things. No heavy furniture was involved, only boxes and a twin bed. The problem? We needed to load it the next day as we were too exhausted to do it that night after traveling 1500 miles, and since we had a 1500 mile drive back and only four days to drive it we needed to get started early in the morning, not too early mind you, we thought we would take them to breakfast at 9 am and then load afterwards. Well, apparently, his gf refused to wake before 2 pm. So we said well then maybe he can just come, and she refused to let him drive her car since he wrecked his, so we offered a cab and suddenly we were the enemy. They claimed we were trying to risk their livelihood by his chancing a wreck since he lost his insurance from his wreck. How that can happen when he is taking a cab is beyond me, but there it was. So I simply asked why can’t she just get up and drive him or let us pick him up? After all we did come 1500 miles? Well that was consider a putdown. It became clear to me my son and his gf were simply looking for excuses to rid themselves of me in their life. Looking back the signs were there, little put downs on my motherhood, my other children say it is all baloney, that I was a good mother. Suddenly he started chatting with his father, he had not seen him in 15 years, but at the encouragement of his gf they suddenly were best buds. Never mind he abandoned him, neglected him when he was molested by his stepmother’s brother at age 7. My son was diagnosed with bipolar, I spent years with him in therapy, support groups, I was his biggest advocate, he committed crimes, had 3 felonies by the time he was 11, joined the navy at 18, I advocated for a waiver for his previous crimes since he was a minor then but he got kicked out for theft and conduct unbecoming of a military man, they committed him in a psych hospital for 13 days and only let him out because I said I would care for him. When he came home I got him straightened out, we got his credit cleaned up, helped him appeal his discharge so he could get health benefits from the VA where my partner works, and had his record expunged so he could find employment and got him enrolled in college. He made honor roll his first quarter, then met this girl, lost his financial aid for missing class, his credit is ruined, he wrecked his car we gave him, and because she had an affair with their landlord they were kicked out of their first apt because him and the landlord had a fight that ended up in court. We let them live with us until they found another place to live in which we helped them get and move in to. Yet after all of this, when we come 1500 miles they cannot offer us a place to stay, we would not of done it, we were fine with a hotel, but the offer was a matter of respect, no offer of a meal either and she could not get out of bed to spend time with us and would not let him either. Her pregnancy has been a breeze, so it was not that. So he tells me, it is over, I am done with you mom, I want nothing to do with you. And you know for the first time, I wanted nothing to do with my son. I was so hurt by his obvious lack of respect for me and my partner, and by the way he decided to disown his brother too who had nothing to do this at all, that suddenly I wanted as far away from him as possible. In fact, when he said those words to me, I felt this heartache but also this relief. It was like I no longer had to wait for that shoe to drop. It was like I was no longer his whipping post for everything wrong in his life. The relief was confounding, but so was the pain. Is this normal? To feel such pain at the loss of your parent/adult child relationship but to also feel a sense of relief? Or am I a terrible mom after all? I long to see my soon to be granddaughter, but honestly, I have no desire to see him and not certainly not her. Please do not get me wrong, I am angry at my future daughter-in-law for her lack of respect and poor manners, but most of all I am disappointed in my son for his cowardice in not standing up to her, he allows these things to happen and he spoke the words of disowning me. He set these dynamics up, and by allowing this type of behavior to happen, our family feels as if every family get together we are held hostage to her temper tantrums because he will not tell her that her behavior is rude, disrespectful and inappropriate. And while I am upset by their behavior and attitudes, I also feel so sad at the loss of never knowing my granddaughter, but at the same time relieved I will not have to subjected to their dramatics. Is it so wrong of me to feel pain with relief at the same time? S.
Answer: Dear S.: All we can do is our best. When a child gets to “adult” status, few really deserve that title. Many make poor choices and have to learn to pay the consequences for their mistakes.
Letting go is very hard for most of us. We don’t want to watch them sink, so we rescue them thinking it is the right thing to do. We hope that if we pull them out of the fire…one more time…it will be the deciding factor in their willingness to grow up. Sometimes it works but not always.
You made the only healthy choice that I can see. There is a huge loss in it but you were a whole person before you became his mother and you can be whole again. I see it as absolutely necessary that you rebalance your life. Mixed feelings are the price. There is no black and white in this situation. It’s a darned if you do and darned if you don’t.
He picked this path he is on and is, at present, committed to it. He may surprise you and turn things around. He knows the door of your heart is forever open. Blessings, Luise