p.s. three…

{image credit Debby Hudson}

Dear Mom, 

Although we are friends now, we haven’t always been in this place in life. When I was growing up, you were distant. Not distant in a way that I couldn’t see, hear or touch you, but you just had somewhat “checked out” as a mom. Being the baby of six kids, I always felt like maybe you gave birth to me but just didn’t want to raise another child. 

As I got older, I learned that you didn’t have the best upbringing yourself, losing your birth mother at a young age, having your father say he couldn’t care for his children so putting them in foster care (which ultimately tore you away from most of your siblings, except one sister), then being adopted and raised by a mother who wasn’t the best suited for the job. 

All of that made me realize you had some baggage to deal with. Maybe because of that baggage you just had no idea how to really be a mom. But then as I got even older, I learned of some things about you that probably led to you also not being a close mother to me during the formidable years.

I learned that you were raised Mormon, but broke the rules and got pregnant in High School. Because of that you were forced to leave that comfort and the support of home, you moved into a place with your boyfriend and started a family. The two of you were married and had 4 children together. He was a traveling sales man, leaving you alone to raise the children by yourself. I think this took a real toll on you and you got involved with another man and ended up pregnant. Although you attempted to hide this from your husband, he knew that child couldn’t be his. So he divorced you, so once again you were alone raising children, but now you are also pregnant and raising children. 

When your “baby” was a little over one, you met a man (who would ultimately become my father) and began dating him. The two of you eventually married, when your youngest child was 2 years old. When your youngest child was 4, you gave birth to another child (me). I am not sure if I was a planned pregnancy or if you were giving your husband a child he wanted. But either way, you never seemed ready for another child. Even reading back in the baby book put together for me, the comments you wrote in the book are shocking. When the book asks you to document what you thought when you found out you were pregnant, you wrote “I hope this is the last”. When it asks what your first thoughts were when you first laid eyes on me, you wrote “its a girl”. I would’ve hoped your answers would have been a little more enthusiastic. 

You and my dad filled your lives with lots of alcohol and partying. You would also get involved in the “Swinger” lifestyle, hosting parties at your home. These parties were often full of food and alcohol and lots of people, while us kids were told to go to the basement and stay there until we were told to come up. I remember venturing upstairs once, because the smell of the food was just too tempting, and although I didn’t “see” anything, to this day I can remember the panic on your face as you tried to scurry me back down to the basement. It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out from one of my siblings that you guys were Swingers. Then I started piecing all that together. 

My point here, Mom, is this: I know you love me. I know you genuinely want the best for me. I now feel like we can talk about anything and you always have good advice. It has taken us some time to get here though and although you played a bigger role (being a more mature, motherly figure that should have been your role) I also take some responsibility in keeping us from a wonderful relationship for all those years. 

Love you!

p.s. one…

As a part of a new, limited micro-series entitled Post Script, launching under the Collective Podcast, I will be sharing anonymously submitted letters, written by women within the community. Each week that a mini-episode launches, a coordinating post, containing the letter, will be here…

{image credit, Debby Hudson}

Mom,

Hello, how are things going for you? Hope everything is well. Things here are good. I just need to say some things. It may not sound like what you want to hear but it is something I have been needing to tell you for awhile now.

I feel like I have given you chance after chance to get to know me. You keep throwing it away and I only wish you could understand how that makes me feel. I realize that just because one is related to you biologically doesn’t at all mean they have to accept you. I just can’t comprehend it, though. I mean, the fact of the matter is I am your child. Does that even mean anything to you?

I want you to be part of my life. You say you want me to be a part of your life but do you call and check in or write? I am sick of always having to be the first one to do it. I know maybe I may not be the ideal child to have, let alone raise, but a mother is supposed to love her children unconditionally.

I will not give up on you. You will always be my mother no matter what, and I have never blamed you for leaving me, actually, I thanked you. I know I wouldn’t be alive today if you hadn’t walked out. I’m not intending to make you feel guilty or hurt, but when is it going to be the time when you are going to face the reality that sometimes we make bad choices but we have to live with them and deal?

I think that you are doing a wonderful job raising the rest of the children. I just wish you had five minutes to spare for me. For as much as it may be worth to you, I do love you very much.

P.S. I would hope that you would just think about this and consider a relationship. 

“You’re welcome…”

GenOne thing Chw and I have been spending a lot of our one-on-one conversations about, lately, is the fact that we aren’t perfect parents and we are ok with that. While that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t daily strive to be better parents, or better spouses (which in turn makes us better parents), the one thing which became blindingly clear to us in recent weeks is that it doesn’t matter to us whether our 15-year-old likes us or not.

I never imagined I would feel this way. I grew up in foster care and always knew that my kids would LOVE me and think I was absolutely the coolest mom ever. That’s just the way it was going to be. And now that I have a teenager who spews rage at me on a regular basis, just for fun, I’ve realized I don’t really want her approval. I’ve seen the things she prioritizes in her life, and some of the people she approves of or things she thinks are cool. These are categories I don’t want to fit into, but thanks. Incidentally, she also takes every opportunity to point out how disapproving she is of our parenting techniques…

Specifically she has screamed and thrown things because I am “verbally abusive” and she knows it for a fact because she has “asked her friends, and they confirmed what I do is abuse.” When I asked her what it is I do, she proceeds to point out things like:

– tell her when her zipper is down, or her pockets are sticking out. (when I asked if I do it discreetly she bursts into tears and says “yes, but I’m so tired of you tearing me down that way!” When she finished the dramatics I said “then why not let your obvious frustration motivate you to check your own zipper and pockets from time to time?” To which I received a hateful look and was called a profane name. alright then…)

– I scream at her. When we hashed this out, it turns out I scream at her to “stop” when she is hurling insults, back-talking, arguing and won’t stop. Her voice is far above ours and she is incredibly hateful and I will scream at her to “STOP!” When I asked her how, in this scenario, she wasn’t the verbally abusive one since she was the one hurling insults and saying cutting, hateful things while yelling at her parents, I get the “You would say that, wouldn’t you?” response and glare.

– We “nag” her. (By “nag” apparently it means we remind her over and over to chew with her mouth closed, give her warnings about behaving in school because the school called AGAIN, pick up her messes and stop back-talking.) How dare we!

So… When we repetitively point out that no, these are not abusive things, these things are called PARENTING, she will plummet into her 4 times a week rant about what an awful mom I am. Crappy to hear? sure. But a little comical too.

On one such recent festive occasion, (we are both so tired of these near daily events, sorry for not blogging more, my goodness is drained…) I just looked at her and said “Do you believe we need your validation or approval to get by? Do you honestly think we are just hoping you approve of our parenting?” She was shocked. I continued, “You are 15. Not only do you have no idea how to be a parent, you have no idea how to be an adult and you especially have no idea what we have been through or what it has been like along our parenting journey. When you have a decade of the experience we do, under your belt, I’ll value your input on my performance and what you have to say. Now? Now your opinion is based solely on your selfish whims and desires.” Did it solve the problem? Probably not, but it gave her food for thought.

She’s also always telling us her one friend “really likes us” or “was excited to see us.” It’s all lies and we couldn’t figure out why she kept telling us these things until these conversations between us started, so I added that to the mix. I said “And Gen, we don’t care if your friends approve of us or like us either. Your friend’s opinions of us mean absolutely nothing to us. I don’t need their acceptance or approval.”

This was an idea she could not comprehend, which felt awesome… And hopefully, also makes her think a little.

Awhile ago I read an article or something that said “when your teen hurts your feelings, they may not be aware of their actions. Articulate “thank you for hurting my feelings by _____________. That was really painful.” And maybe this will spur them to take responsibility for their actions. So, the other day she said something really awful to me and I tried it.

Her response? “You’re welcome,” Saccharine smile.  Shocked, I texted my husband who couldn’t believe it. Later that night, he was home and the fun continue. She said something else and my knee-jerk reaction was “ouch, wow Gen, thanks.” And she did it again, “You’re welcome.” Sickeningly sweet smile…

A couple of hours after our talk about not needing her approval she said to me “I don’t like what you said. I think my opinion of the type of parents you are should matter more than even yours does. That makes me feel… I can’t even explain it.”

I smiled at her, “Like you aren’t in charge? Like you aren’t above us? Like we are the parents.”

She sighed.

I walked over and hugged her close and guess what I sincerely whispered in her ear?

You’re welcome… (someday she will be grateful, but we don’t need her to be. That’s another thing we’ve realized. Someday (I hope) her opinion will be different and she will get it.)

And someday she will have a teenager and I will laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before, and maybe I’ll say it again, but that time just for fun:

You’re welcome!