Category Archives: Parents
Truth – for the most part we use our internal radar to weed out falsehoods from fact. We could have hard-core facts (pro or con) shoved in our face about something, but whether a particular subject resonates with us or not determines if it becomes a belief. If a belief somehow serves us, we’ll fight to hold onto it.
Two years ago my oldest called me over to his computer, totally freaking out.
J: “Mom! Look at this! The Slenderman!”
Me: What is that?
J: The Slenderman! Oh, my God, Mom. You have to see this picture of him! He’s real!
J: Yeah! If you look at him, you’ll die!
Me: So they guy who took this picture is now dead?
J: Probably! But not everyone can see him so those are the ones who are safe.
For those of you who don’t know about the Slenderman, here is an explanation from ufosearchonline.com:
“Slender Man (or Slenderman, depending on how you spell it’s name) is described as wearing a black suit strikingly similar to the visage of the notorious Men In Black, and as the name suggests, appears very thin and able to stretch his limbs and torso to inhuman lengths in order to induce fear and ensnare his prey. Once his arms are outstretched, Slender Man’s victims are put into something of a hypnotized state, where they are utterly helpless to stop themselves from walking into them. Slender Man is also able to create tendrils from his fingers and back that he uses to walk. Whether Slender Man absorbs, kills, or merely takes his victims to an undisclosed location or dimension is also unknown as there are never any body’s or evidence left behind in his wake to deduce a definite conclusion. Slender Man is most often seen as a tall, extremely thin man with long, strange arms, and a face that no two people see the same way (if they see any face at all). Where he comes from is as much a mystery as what he wants.”
*Big sigh* How could it be that my son had so readily accepted, albeit with a fit of tears, that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real when I broke the news to him? (Yeah, yeah, yeah. In my defense I thought he already knew and was just going along to make me happy.) My son had eventually figured out that I was Santa Claus and took that with relative grace when I confirmed his suspicions. The bottom line – he trusted me enough to accept my truth.
But in the case of Slenderman… no dice. Nothing I said would convince him. The fact that this mythical creature existed obviously resonated with him. I can’t possibly begin to understand that one, but until we moved out of our house on five forested acres, he refused to go outside after dark, swearing to me that one night he saw the Slenderman peek around the corner at him while he waited for the dog to come back inside. And now that we’ve moved into town? My son is always out after dark. Apparently the Slenderman doesn’t like to hang around the lake or Starbuck’s after dark. But in the heavily treed areas…
There’s only so much we can do to protect our children from beliefs that freeze them up or make their imaginations go wild. At this point, this is one of those things I have to file in the “Let It Go” folder. He’ll figure it out… I hope.
If you really like stories that make you wonder… what if, check out Souled, a novel about what happens when a high school wrestler invites another soul to inhabit his body. You can purchase it for $2.99 on Amazon. Just click and download. Easy.
I had no idea that the gap that launched me into single status could possibly get any wider. I can see now, though, how inevitable it would be, for as I kept taking steps backward, slowly turning away from the disaster my life had become, and finally running like hell, my scenery changed, my viewpoint cleared, and my vision sharpened. I found myself standing in a place my ex would never understand. The rules regarding school work, curfew, healthy eating – the rules that united, albeit loosely, the ex and I together – soon became the mother of all disagreements.
Seventeen years ago, as part of my efforts to be the “perfect” mom, I adopted other women’s examples of what raising children “should be,” even if it didn’t resonate with me. Man, was that exhausting. I had rules up the wazoo and fought to keep them in place. And the boys fought back.
But eight months ago the blinders dropped to my feet and I found that I had forgotten to preach what I practiced. The solution was so simple.
Let them be.
Which is exactly how I prefer to be treated. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or telling me what path to choose, so why should I do that to my boys? Sure, my body may be older, but my children’s souls are just as experienced as mine. These boys aren’t mine in the possession sense. From a spiritual point of view, I don’t have the right to put borders around their spirits and make them the exact image that society or even I believe to be true. I’m here to guide them, not mold them. They know who they need to be. Besides, what a waste of time when quite possibly after 18 years, they’re going to do and be what they want anyway. I know I did.
It is my belief that we come into this existence knowing what our life path is. The road map has already been printed up, although our free will sometimes overrides that map and takes us on some wild side trips. When we truly deviate off that path,though, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Don’t we feel the discord when we want to go one direction and someone tries to convince us otherwise? Especially if the only source of righteousness is in their own mind? Or what about compromising on something we truly believe in?
My mother pushed me to go to college because it was what I “should” do, yet all I did was spin my wheels, lost a lot of brain cells, and ran up a student loan that never should have been. Besides, halfway through the first year I realized I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. This is one area I won’t push my boys on. No amount of lecturing is going to make this the right choice for them. True motivation must come from them. Otherwise it becomes my job to keep them going, a burden that will have us both resentful.
In the months past, I’ve gotten a clearer view of who my boys really are. Without the shoulds masking their true source, I’ve been able to appreciate their way of thinking. I’m beginning to understand what makes them tick and why they don’t fit into the boxes I’ve been trying to put them in.
Sex, drinking, drugs, school, safety, curfew – those are issues I will never compromise on. Honestly, though, I have no control over their ultimate decisions on those topics, but I’ve made damn sure they know what the consequences are if they deviate from my “recommendations.” So, armed with that information, it’s their decision as to what outcome they desire.
Some may think this is the wrong approach or the lazy way to parent, but it is actually very difficult at times. To stand back and watch their actions put in motion a set of reactions (whether they be mine or someone else’s) makes me want to peek out from behind splayed fingers. It’s nothing short of a challenge to stay back and let them do damage control. On the flip side, when they are really thinking it out and the outcome is in their favor? It’s awesome.
It felt good to finally release the ties, because forcing the boys to do what they clearly do not want to do didn’t resonate with what I was all about – freedom of choice and independence. I’ve let my boys make choices of when to go to sleep (though the connection between late nights and being tired the next day still hasn’t sunk in), meals, what school classes to take, and friends. As long as safety isn’t an issue and they’re not hurting others, I’m good.
Which might explain why they gravitate to me and not to the “other.” That “coolness” factor I seem to have with the boys and their friends is, I believe, actually the elation they experience when they connect with who they are.
Think about the people we tend to gravitate toward – those who speak to and understand our souls. Not those who contradict or repress our fires, but those who stoke it, feed it, and encourage it to rise.
My boys’ path is their own. I’ll be there to dust off their knees, put a band-aid on a broken heart, give them advice on hangover cures, and I’ll give them room to fly, because they’ll need it to get over the Grand Canyon-size crevasse of thought that yawns between “the other half” and me.
The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal. Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again. My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports. And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart. We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.
I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.
They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.
My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts. My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.
My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.
My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.
That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.
I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back. Not fun for either party involved.
Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.” And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore. But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt. I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base. Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?
I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite. Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”
But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?
I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try. So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen. There is no ‘normal’ here. Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds. We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash. I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you. I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo. You know how completely unorthodox I am…”
My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom. We like you that way.”
*Happy dance* They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together. But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…
Since Sunday night at 5:20 p.m. to be exact. For about 36 hours now.
Though I had felt as if I had no parents for many, many years, this made it a hard core reality. I had shunned both of my parents long ago, never wanting to have anything to do with them (damn, I was so proud of myself, being so independent and all). My mother had died 17 years ago, but there was still another half of the parenting duo alive, and despite the fact that we were separated by hundreds of miles, my father was always there for me to ignore.
What a hollow victory this turned out to be.
A week ago my aunt Mary called from the hospice center where they had taken my father. Apparently what the doctors diagnosed five weeks ago as a urinary tract infection, turned out to be a stroke, and his condition had deteriorated since. It’s been a bit on the stressful side, due to my oldest brother’s immoral and illegal conduct – I’m setting that one aside for another blog…or a novel…**counting on fingers how many times he has tried to screw the family**…No. Definitely a novel.
I apologize, I digress.
So, last week my aunt called me from the hospice center to let me know my father was unresponsive. She offered to hold the phone up to his ear so I could say something to him. I hesitated, because I really had nothing to say. I had made my peace on my own, so what was left? But my brother was on his way out to Arizona from California, and once he got there, I knew I wouldn’t have another chance. I didn’t know what I could say. All I knew was that I didn’t want to have any regrets.
Death is a process, a very personal journey, and I wanted to respect that. So instead of taking the stance of daughter-to-father and get in his face, I decided to go toe-to-toe, soul-to-soul. I could see no other way.
Later my aunt would tell me that when I first spoke to him, with her cell phone to his ear, his labored breathing had slowed, as if to hear me better, and as I spoke, his eyes moved behind his lids. He had heard me.
I opened my heart up as wide as I could and tried to see the playing field for what it was. Completely off kilter. I was strong, healthy, with at least another 50 years with which to make good with myself. His body was shutting down. His life was coming to an end. Another soul, another incarnation, just waiting…waiting for whatever moment souls wait for before they let go.
I couldn’t even begin to question his life’s plan, because I don’t really even know my own. All I knew was that moment was not the time to speculate. That would be his job…once he had passed. Neither was it a time to judge, condemn, or hold a grudge. That never did any good anyway – in life or death.
So I said what I needed to say and told him good-bye, feeling as if there was so much more to say, regretting that I didn’t say more. But it didn’t matter. My brother had arrived at the hospice center, threw a hissy fit as only my 50-year-old brother can, and my aunt, my only connection to my father, left the hospice center for the last time.
A week had passed since then and each day my father did what he had to do to complete his life. I wish I knew what went on inside his head – so different, I’m sure, from what went on in mine.
To everyone who might ask, “Are you okay?” My answer is: I think I am. I feel a touch of sadness, perhaps for what never was and never could be – at least with any sort of normalcy. I feel cheated, like…This is it? Is that all I get? Born into a dysfunctional family, growing up in an abusive environment, separation, and then death? What the hell was that all about?
I’d released the hold he had on me, but his passing truly severed it. Now there is no going back. There is only moving forward.
You may be wondering what I said to him and, as always, my friends, I invite you into my head.
“Whether this was a part of the plan we agreed upon in Soul Place, or you just made really poor choices and went way off course, we both ended up in a place I wish we hadn’t. I’m sad for the years that could have been, happy for the years that weren’t.
I love your soul, but not your heart, because it never was with me. I trust you will find your lessons learned and the time here well spent. For now, Godspeed. I wish you well.
Say hi to Mom for me. I’ve tried, but with all the voices in my head, I can’t hear her say anything back.
I don’t know what else to say, so I guess I’ll say good-bye for now.
I’ll catch you on the flip side, Dad. I’ll catch you on the flip side.”