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Is it a miracle

8 Feb

Last night I overheard #1 son, himself the source of much bellyaching by The Mom, instructing #3 son on how to get himself out of the doghouse at home. “Just finish up your grounding and get it over with. You did the crime and you deserve to be punished, she isn’t asking something unreasonable of you. You are only 12 and Mom is responsible for you.”

What? Where did this child come from? I won’t mention that he is himself in some school challenges, but at least he is working toward being an active part of our family.

I hate punishing the boys, I wish our time together was full of adventures. I wish our minuscule free time was free from interrogation and punishment. I feel more like a warden than a mother these days. Overhearing this interaction last night gave me a glimmer of hope that our tides are turning or at least there is an end date in the awful parenting of teenagers.

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Get it together girl

23 Aug

I had tickets to Little Big Town last night. I love these guys and country music in general. So, I was excited as I left work yesterday to meet up with BB for a night on the town with another couple.

It was raining so traffic was bad, I called and spoke to my #1 son and asked him to get a few things done before I got home to expedite things. I arrive home to find him making out with his girlfriend on my couch and NONE of the tasks complete or even started. I was angry.

I yelled for my #3 son to get ready for football, his response? “Today is Sunday, there isn’t football.” Ugh. He was late to practice. I quickly showered, throw my hair in some curlers and pulled on my jeans, boots and a cute top.

My hero BB arrives with his normal patience and calming effect. He has mixed up a batch of his famous margaritas, pours me one and then quietly goes to the kitchen to threaten (in a joking, but serious way) my #1 with bodily harm if I return this evening and the kitchen is still a mess.

I start to calm down until I realize that I have lost my keys in the mayhem of the last hour. We spend precious 15 minutes looking for them (ugh, really? where is my brain?) before grabbing the spare (no key fob) and heading out. I finish applying my make-up in the car and try to get my blood pressure and temperature to return to normal levels. BB instructs me to “suck that down” meaning my margarita. Which I happily do.

After two margaritas in the car, I am feeling a little tipsy and more relaxed. We arrive at the venue and there is a line wrapped around  the outside of the building. Ugh. Thankfully, my dear friends arrived early and have a table waiting for us. God love them. We pull into a parking garage and go to hop out. BB arms the car alarm from the inside and proceeds to shut the door…. UM HELLO we do not have a key fob to disarm that!

We try to gently shut the doors without setting off the alarm. It doesn’t work. Now the alarm is blaring inside the parking garage, echoing off of every last nerve I have left. 10 more minutes of monkeying with the car. BB disconnects the battery. We manually lock the doors and decide to deal with it later.

At the end of the night, the concert was fun. The venue was a bit hot, but a great evening. Do I bring this sort of drama onto myself somehow?

The power of boys

16 Aug

Midnight: my #1 son strolls down the stairs with his shoes and socks and jacket on and a Monster drink tucked into his pocket.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s hot in my room and I want to sit in the backyard.”  Right.

Funny. Does he think I am really that stupid?

“Honey, what are you up to? Looks like you are planning a late night sneak out adventure with your buddies.”

Denial. He leaves and doesn’t return until 8:00 the next morning. He’s almost 17. He is bigger than me. I cannot physically make him stay home. I can threaten all I want. Likely he will just continue to do what he wants.

So, the big ugly tree in the backyard? https://justamomtoday.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/tree-trimming/Guess who gets to spend the day (likely a very tired day after being out all night) chopping it down? I came home to the ugly tree now a short stump, which will be removed this weekend and the branches in organized piles for the fire pit. No yelling, no fighting. He knew he was wrong – he didn’t argue. I got a task done.

Honestly, this isn’t the kind of parent I thought I would be. I probably would have scoffed at this story recounted by another parent in my younger years. But now? Raising teenagers is hard. You compromise and do what you can. All the time working to preserve the relationship while instilling values and boundaries with love.

It is exhausting, but I think we are making it.

Taking the high road

8 Aug

So, the boys were supposed to return home on Saturday morning. Their dad informs me that he cannot meet up halfway because he is having car trouble. My options are: driving the entire way (6 hours RT) to get them or to purchase train tickets for them myself. Of course, he cannot contribute to train tickets.

I take a deep breath and a few moments to think about the high road in this situation. I purchase the tickets for Saturday evening at 6:00pm. No problem. Gives me some extra time with BB and the boys don’t have to sit in the car for 3 hours.

Saturday at 5:00pm I receive a phone call informing me that they aren’t going to make the train because they are out on the river and could I call and change the tickets. I make a phone call and find out there is an add collect. I contact their dad say it is fine, but he will have to pay for the add cost.

At least the boys got to do something fun with their dad besides sit around and play video games. I get another evening with BB and not a big deal. Irritating, but not a big deal. Turns out that their dad simply had the Amtrak people put the add collect on my card. Cute. But, he will send cash with the boys. Right.

The high road. I have taken it so many times since our divorce. I never want the boys to feel the stress of having parents that can’t be civil and friendly to one another. I grow tired of being the parent and always footing the bill and doing the right thing. However, the greater issue is the boys, not me.

Lucky for me, they returned home. Ready to be at home. Grateful for the normalcy I provide, a clean house and an actual parent. This season won’t last forever, thank God. I will get through it. I am glad the boys are home.

Movie and good company

3 Aug

I went to a movie last night with my son’s girlfriend. The boys are finally due home Saturday. She and I are missing them. In an effort to distract ourselves and commiserate, we went to a comedy. It was enjoyable. I like her. She was good company.

I am ready for my life to return to normal. Too long for our family to be uprooted.

 

victory?

3 May

I was able to get in touch with #1 via a girlfriend of his. Asked him to come home for a meeting. We had a phone call with his dad on speaker. It didn’t go well. The conversation was frustrating on so many levels: 1. My son seems to be out of touch with reality (normal teenager stuff? – IDK). 2. His dad talks a big game, but isn’t able/willing to really do anything to help Tyler out. 3. My son blames me for most of the issues in his life (trying not to take it personally – I think I hated my mom at that age too).

After stalling for an hour or so, ranting about some “stolen” property he was sure his brothers and I took, my #1 donned his back-pack and stepped off the front porch. Back to homelessness.

An hour later, he knocked quietly on the door. Shivering and teary, he asked if he could come home. I guess homelessness and “freedom” isn’t as cool as he thought. A small victory – I guess. I don’t kid myself. I doubt this is our last bout with running away or violence.

Two more years… I can do this. Thank you Father for grace.

He’s gone

2 May

Last week was a blur. My #1 son became increasingly violent and angry. Pinnacle was an evening in the kitchen with him. He arrived home from “school” at 9:30 and wanted to eat dinner. I informed him that dinner was over and he needed to get to his room. He called me a name, shoulder checked me into the wall and then proceeded to scream at me. I grabbed ahold of him to get him under control and to lower his voice (his brothers were upstairs) and he picked me up and threw me against a corner wall.

As I knelt on my hands and knees trying to regain my breath and fighting tears from the pain spreading across my back and hip. I thought – OK, it doesn’t get better from here. From experience with his father, I know that once it becomes violent it only escalates. I rose to my feet and walked to the front door, opened it and told him he couldn’t stay here any more.

Maybe I overreacted about the dinner – should I have let him eat his dinner and get to bed without a word from me? Probably. The violence turns my stomach because I feel like we (his dad and I) taught him that. We gave him the gift of violence as a child while he watched us fight. I am not proud of this.

He knocked on my bedroom window at 1:30am shivering and asking to come in to sleep. I called his dad to strategize while he stood on the back porch in the rain. Ultimately, I let him in, told him he must stay in his room until I took him to school in the morning. I brought him to school, he walked in the front door and right out the back.

So, today is Monday. I haven’t seen my oldest son since Friday night. I called and reported him as a runaway. I feel guilty for being relieved at his absence. As the days go by – I grow more and more worried. I can only hope that he is uncomfortable enough to come home and try to be a part of this family.

Help me Father.

Good times

24 Apr

Yesterday a dear friend who also happens to be a gifted photographer took some family photos of us. She is the mother of 5 children, three grown, and carries a quiet strength and wisdom beneath her amiable exterior. Knowing that #1 can be a handful, she brought along her husband, a Godly and physically large man. 🙂 The photo shoot went well. The couple worked together in tandem oblivious to the peace they brought to the day and to my previously irritated son.

As I reflect I realize this circumstance has brought enourmous peace to my son before – a strong husband and wife duo. Selfishly, I am sad that I could not create this circumstance in boys’ lives. However, I am enormously grateful for my friends who can. God moments of provision – Father to the Fatherless. I hear you Father – I will continue to expose the boys to happily married couples. They need to see that it works.

Today is Easter. Thank you Jesus for Salvation! This morning as the boys hunted the 36 eggs I had hidden in the backyard, we were one short. Ugh! Of course it was #3 who forlornly carried his batch of 11 plastic eggs around the yard. #1 steadily at his side as encourager. I noticed my eldest son sneak into the house, snatch an egg from his pile and hide it in the backyard without his younger brother noticing.

As he shouted triumphantly for his brother to come to the other side of the yard to gather “his” twelvth egg, my heart swelled. He will be a good man – I know it. Father help me to have grace for this season.

The Bow Flex

5 Apr

Some dear friends of mine gave my #1 son a Bow Flex. They are DINKS and both are habitually tidy. It is a wonderful gift. Last night we drove to their house to pick it up and I watched the amazing power of man-to-man interaction.

My friend’s husband directed as we all loaded, shoved and heaved the Bow Flex into the back of my SUV. We women were wise enough to fade into the background as the adult and teen man worked in tandem to secure the large pieces of metal into the back of my car. The older quietly instructing without shaming or ridicule. The younger learning life skills (yes, the ability to tie a load into a vehicle is a life skill).

We left with firm instructions from the couple that my son was to show some workout progress within 6 weeks. A simple chide to stay out of trouble and we were off with my #1 feeling excited and proud. Really? from 10 minutes spent loading a truck with an honorable man?

I realized last night that I need to find more opportunities for all of my boys to experience this type of interaction. Real men, strong yet respectful, leading by example. I’ll add that to my list…

Independence, identity and the contract

30 Mar

Isn’t it ironic that my quest for independence is juxtaposed next to the quest of my oldest son to find his own? His quest seems to rear its head in the form of rebellion, anger and disrespect. I am shocked at times by these flashes of rage. Who IS this person?

I work with young people. I get their need to establish their own identity and understand that this volatile time in a young person’s life is grounds for some serious challenges. However, I find that the effort my son goes to “rage against the man” is illogical at best. He ends up punishing himself.

I am struggling to help my son find his identity, allowing him the space to create a life of his own and still keeping him safe and under some sort of parental leadership. Lord knows I have given up considerable ground. Looking the other way more than I don’t. Working with my “person” (code for therapist), I have established reasonable boundaries and guidelines for him. He continues to fluctuate between being tolerable, even loving at times, to being a belligerent, obnoxious fool of a person. If I am honest, I don’t like him most of the time. Heartbreaking.

Today I will present my #1 son with a contract for expectations. I am hopeful this might help. Empowering him to feel like he is in charge of his life. The next step is moving him to a facility, has it come to that?

I spent last night sleeping with my younger two sons in my room . Fearful that in a fit of rage my eldest, or a derelict friend, might actually hurt one of us.

Yes, it has come to that.

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