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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Being a Parent

Feeling the need to vent and talk about parenting.

As you know if you have read my posts before,  my ex husband and father of all my three children, is not a very devoted father, to say the least.  Unfortunately parenting can be a risk taking venture as many of us do not know what kind of a parent we will be until we are one. Sometimes we do not have much in the way of a parental instinct when it comes to children and then we hope,  as if by magic, when we become a parent we will go through a "change" and our wonderful parenting instincts will be "switched" on. Other times we have analysed our own upbringing so much and vow not to make the same mistakes and be more like the parents we wished we had, yet sometimes all those good intentions are some how lost when we are parents and we unconsciously keep repeating the bad parenting patterns we had to suffer as children.  Sometimes we assume that becoming a parent will help a relationship or bring us much happiness in our otherwise unhappy lives. We may even think that we want children more than anything and when it becomes a reality, we find out that somehow we were wrong and we just do not have the "knack" for being parents. Others accept their responsibilities of being a parent, receive their children's unconditional love with an open heart and tap into their primitive instincts that we now have a young child who needs our protection and caring more than anything else, and try our damnedest to be the best parent we can be.



Though I have been trying very hard to "let go" of the negative feelings that I still have towards my ex husband, I have somehow, inadvertently, fed my children (especially my our) false hope about their father. I still mention to my son that he has a father as well and he should ask him for help at times too. Not intentionally realising until now that all I have been doing is setting him up for disappointment. The last time I mentioned such an idea to my son, I heard his reply with clarity and knew I needed to stop. When I said, "....he is your parent too" my son replied, "Well, yes and no. He is because he is genetically my father, but he is not a parent." End of discussion and those words  cut through my illusions that someday being a father will "change" this man and he will in fact start having fatherly feelings and following through on them. The next few reminders of that have just highlighted it more to me.

I have been trying to help my son by taking him grocery shopping as regularly as I can, not a full big shop, but enough to know he is eating. I have been doing this while his benefit money from the government stopped and he was waiting for a new claim and I knew he had no money. I would also try to get him a bite to eat whenever I could, even if it was just from the local chip shop. So one afternoon while on the phone to my son, he asked if I can call him back because his father was there putting together a small dresser for him, I was pleased and impressed by this sudden change. The next time I was with my son and we were in the store buying him some bits and pieces, I reverted back to my old tactics and made the comment that I am very low on money and have other kids too to take care of and maybe his father could help him out sometimes. I then asked him about the other day, asking if after they put together the drawers if his dad took him out for a bite to eat. Nope. Oh, well did he get you some shopping? Nope. I was doing it again and I did not want to! Then my son says, "Oh yeah, he did bring me some stuff". Oh ok, I asked what kind of stuff. Now brace yourselves for the answer! "Oh Dad brought me some out of date food he said he found". WHAT? Found? Found where? In the street? "No, he said he found them in the back of his cupboards". Well I was shocked but had to keep asking! What kind of food, I wanted to know and how out of date and did my son actually eat them? OK, so this next remark made me feel so sad and so disgusted at this man who obviously is little more than his genetic father...."It's ok, it didn't all taste bad". I then held my tongue and said no more!

                                               

Next time we spoke my son said he also got some old spices that his father was clearing out! I asked myself, what is this guy up to? Is he moving house or something and getting rid off his junk by giving them to his son? Even our son thought it a bit odd because he does not see his father as the type to merely be doing a spring cleaning. More to the point though is that regardless why he is clearing out old stuff, do not give that to your child! Go to the supermarket and buy him some inexpensive, but fresh food!

I heard my son's words echoing in my head, "He is and he isn't....his is not a parent".

                        

The next time I was reminded of the truth of my son's statement was after his sisters saw their father a few days ago, not having seen them since January! It was the usual set up, movie and a quick lunch, a 3 hour visit more or less as always. The girls would walk down to the corner and there they would meet their dad and come home the same way. When they returned they had a bag of stuff with them. They were not sure what was inside. We all sat down on the floor and tipped out the bag. Two small Easter eggs, OK, yes it is Easter soon. The rest, well we were all dumbfounded about. A little money bag full of used hair clips, an old die, a couple of school whistles, a couple of white board pens thrown in, an old bubbles with half missing, some dried out paint.....Ok...well most of it when to the garbage. What was that about?

The icing on my slice of reality was when I asked my older daughter if she spoke to her father about her upcoming exchange visit. I asked because, one I had sent him a txt and two because I ask her to! My txt was simple, reminding him of her upcoming exchange and if there is anything he can do to support her in her exchange. Now you need to realise that we will be housing a German girl for 10 days in our home, feeding her 3 meals a day, making sure she has a comfortable room to sleep in, entertaining her over a 3 day day weekend, as well as paying for her travel to and from school while here. Then in May our children will go to Germany and stay in their partner's home with the same care given. The cost of the trip is over £300, but of course that does not cover the additional cost of extra outgoings to feed and entertain them. Also before our children go, especially true for my daughter, she will need some new clothes as here she wears a school uniform and does not have that much in the way of casual clothes which she will need there. I think it would be fair to say then that the entire cost is more like £600. The school expects 3 payments to cover the cost of travel, however I was unable to do that financially but really wanted my daughter to go. I spoke to the school and we agreed to monthly payments over a 6 month period, which I am now one month behind.

I was bemused when my daughter told me that her father did give her a contribution to help with her exchange, he gave her £20! I had no choice but to laugh! WOW, £20! Nice one, that may buy them a fast food lunch on the weekend! I never know when to leave bad enough alone, so I asked, "Well then, did your father at least offer to take you guys out somewhere on one of the days over the long weekend?". Stupid question! Stop hoping and waiting for this man to somehow turn into a parent!

So, I know that all these kids have is me. I need to be strong and clever and somehow manage it all. Actually, I guess I have been doing that for a long time already,  so I just have to keep it up!

I hope that my son will learn to get rid of his sorrows by being let down by his dad and then he can start to tackle the problem of how his addiction stemmed from trying to fill a void and ease the sadness. I hope for all my children to be able to one day live full and meaningful lives with love and friendship and that the lack of their father's support will not be a painful part of who they have become. Do not let that make them who they are, let them find so much goodness in life that it is not an issue, and I must learn to do the same. In the meantime I am trying to be the best parent and person that I can be.


         

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lucky Me!

A few weeks ago, on the eve of our Mother's Day in the UK, I contemplated relationships in my post

 http://livingwithmydrugabusingteenager.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/friends-familyforever.html

and concluded that as a mother, my love for my children will be one thing that will last forever.

I thought that I would share with you all what a wonderful Mother's Day I had, the first one in a very long time!

My daughters came up with an amazing Mother's Day menu, which they shopped for and prepared themselves. I was treated to breakfast in bed, and I mean, real breakfast! We are not talking about soggy cereal, burnt toast and cold coffee, I was treated to delicious blueberry pancakes (made from scratch), fresh fruit (mango and pomegranate) and fresh brewed coffee!



After stuffing myself, they brought me up my laptop and told me to relax while they cleaned up! I then received a call from my son wishing me a Happy Mother's Day and said he hoped that his sisters did something nice, because I deserve it! He asked if it would be ok to drop by a card to me later. Full and content, I decided to have a nap!

Later I snuggled on the sofa with my youngest daughter (age 9) watching a film, "Oz, the Great and Powerful" and really enjoyed it with her. All the while, my other daughter was busy in the kitchen preparing my Mother's Day lunch. When she came in with a plate for me I was so amazed at what she created! My lunch was mini puff pastry quiches and a spinach and tomatoes salad!!!! I dug right in and was in food heaven! I had seconds, and thirds!! It was so exceptionally good, I was so proud of my daughter's talented cooking as well as so proud that they had both put in so much time and thought and effort into making me a special day! Lunch was followed by yummy chocolate dominoes, which were consumed before a picture could be taken!



As my girls cleaned up, I was told to relax some more and later my son came to visit. Though my older daughter is still uncomfortable with her brother, and indeed still does not want to see him, she was ok with it and just went up to her room. My younger daughter decided to stay and sit around the kitchen table with her brother and me and it was all very "normal". It was a short visit, but a very comfortable one. My son was not over intoxicated, though I am sure he had a smoke and a drink earlier in the day, he was lucid and behaved himself. He gave me a card and on the envelope it said, "To my brilliant mum". Inside was this most meaningful message:

"Happy Mother's Day to the best mum in the world!! Thank you for being so brilliant, helping me lots and just being around. Hope you've had a lovely day and that the girls did something nice, you deserve a treat. Love you lots and lots xoxoxoxoxox"

You can imagine how powerful his handwritten words to me were! This is the first time in years that my son has given me a card and with such poignant words as well, I was moved beyond words.

I dropped  my son back at his flat so he did not have to make the 45 minute walk, especially since it would become colder and darker during his walk. When I returned home, I had a card from my youngest and chocolates from both of my girls. My youngest daughter wrote this in her handmade card:

"Dear Mummy,
I love you lots and lots! I love you more and more each day! Have a great day. DON'T DO ANY WORK. Well, except make dinner. Ha ha ha. Happy Mother's Day. I love you and all your family does!"


My love for these children will definitely stand the test of time as well as the test of all that life has been giving us. After that most special Mother's Day, I know that their love for me will also last and withstand all the trials and tribulations.

I am one lucky woman, even though my family my not be traditional and far from perfect, even though my children and I have suffered and are still trying to recover, even though my son is a drug addict, I am still one hell of a lucky woman!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Solutions in Spring

Spring has sprung and there needs to be a shift in my way of thinking. At the moment I have to learn to be less analytical about why things have happened the way they have and why the universe keeps testing me with one difficult challenge after the other. I have to let go a little and start thinking of more practical ways to move forward. I need to become, as my Family Solutions worker highlighted, more solution focused.

                            
So while I may still feel flat and stuck and overwhelmed and sad about what has happened and what life has given me, which makes looking forward and dealing with things in the here and now rather difficult, I will start tackling real problems with real solutions.

My son has a drug problem. End of story for the moment. I do not know why it happened or how it happened but I know I did not make that choice for him to seek comfort from drugs. I did not neglect him or mistreat him in any way. I was a good mother and still am and I am not to blame. I am not responsible for the affect other people in my son's life had on his emotional well being, I tried to compensate with my love but that is not always enough. I am still here for him now and always will be. I support him as much as I can and he is still a very important part of my life though he has not lived at home for over 3 months and he is not really a part of his sisters lives. My solution is to continue to support him, offer him practical help and encourage him to seek treatment. At the end of the day he must find his own solutions on how he will move forward and if and when he wants treatment or change.

Not much has changed inside our home in the last three months mostly because of my feelings of being stuck and also financial restraints. Emotionally I have struggled the most in regard to my son's room. Not only was it left in  a HUGE mess and very chaotic, but it was full of memories (good and bad). I felt a sense of disrespect to my son if I was the one who sorted out his things, and I felt an even bigger sense of betrayal if I would change his room from his room into anything but his room. I can feel his anger and disapproval and rejection. Yet I know very well that it is my house,  I make the decisions and I do not need to discuss my plans for a room in my house with him. Therefore I have finally made plans to redecorate it into a spare room, and if the time would ever come, my son would be more than welcome to stay in it. We will move our second T.V. from the playroom into there and store a lot of our books there, freeing up space in other rooms. It will be a space that anyone in the family can use as well as always being there for guests. I have chosen the sofa bed, and the d├ęcor. I have discussed removing the old furniture and Thursday it will be taken to the dump. So now I am packing and organising things and feeling more positive about this solution and that I have finally made the decision to do what I want and most importantly, to remove triggers of the unpleasant years without removing the memories.

                      

Broken doors and holes in the walls are also triggers, as well as left over equipment and paraphernalia...all reminds us what life was like, who seemed to be in charge and all the things we didn't like about my son as an addict. Even the garden if full of reminders as well as evidence that once a much loved part of my life had been neglected for years due to the lack of interest and motivation to keep things looking nice when our lives seemed to be crumbling from within.

Solutions: replace broken doors, hire someone to start making some headway with the garden, create spare room, pack away all reminders and dispose of anything I feel is unacceptable to keep. Already, I have cleared away all the equipment my son had in the utility room and threw away a lot of the mess that was left behind. All the spaces of our house that was significant in my son's life with drugs has been severely neglected. I have now created a clean, fresh and open spaced utility room, with house plants and flowers replacing the beakers and vices and tubes. A friend who is a professional gardener has agreed to do some work for me and she has already started and it makes such a difference in creating a positive energy and motivation. My Family Solution worker is coming Thursday to help me clear away some of my son's furniture and we will go to the dump together. So not only have some solutions been decided on, work to see those solutions come to fruition as already begun! And do you know what? It feels good!

                                 
 
I may not be financial secure and I may be alone as far as being a single mother with absolutely no family near me which has created a HUGE sense of responsibility falling ALL on me, but that doesn't mean that solutions can't be found and REALISED! I will bite the bullet and do what needs to be done even if it scares me, makes me uncomfortable and intimidates me. I will do it because in so doing I will empower myself and I will feel more confidant and secure in myself. I will start reclaiming control and making life more as I would like it to be despite all the things in my life I dislike.

It is spring, new beginnings, rebirth and hope for the future. I embrace spring and all that it represents. I will actively change my focus and though remaining loyal to my son and wanting nothing more than his recovery, I will not let that overshadow everything else. I will try now to create a balance and no longer feel guilty that while my son is suffering my daughters and I can still create a happy life. Maybe if my daughters and I move on and create a life worth living my son will follow and do the same!