Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chronically Parenting


So I'm going to admit to officially striking out in the techNO department which leaves me in a quandary ... do I call a son and risk parental rejection or do I PM a ten year old and have them show me how in five seconds?

Sons. I've got four of them ... all "grown ups" and two within striking distance. It's not easy being being me ... and I'm sure it's not easy being them, having a disabled mother. I mean, they're from West Michigan with a mother from NY. Strike one. Divorce. Strike two. The disability of their sole custodial parent? That's gotta be worth more than a couple of strikes. Yet we all kept and keep getting back up. Every one of us. Every time.

Thank G-d (and I mean that literally) I only had one son left at home when I became unable to work but for years while in college, #1 son shuttled me to and from the ER. Number Two was off seeking his bliss, and #'s 3 and 4 were JUST in middle school.

Middle school isn't easy for ANYONE (I used to teach the little dears) let alone those with family issues. While I tried with ALL my being to be the perfect mom, having no energy; high fevers; and no diagnosis did NOT factor into that equation. It was hard for THEM and there were times all I could give "it" and them was some mental energy and a LOT of prayer. Now, as 20-30 somethings it pains my heart to hear some of them say they raised themselves. Did they? Yeah on some levels ... but not emotionally. Even on my worst days I know I was emotionally "there" and on good days, if not all days, I'm not sure it's horrible for a 12 year old to do their own laundry.

As they aged they all got jobs (good, good) but there was a poignancy in knowing I was unable to work and they not only could, but did. Hours. LONG hours none of their peers put in. It was not infrequent for someone to miss dinner at home due to work, come home at 10:00 or 11:00, make their OWN dinner, and then start their homework. Despite the some of the myths, chronically ill people in bed don't really sleep. At least not this one. I "twilight" during the times I appear to sleep ... being in some place between sleep and wakefulness, where I'm both able to dream and be quasi aware. And aware I was, on many nights, of a son or sons at work in the wee hours of the morning. Doing homework. Finally having "private time" (we introverts will take that whenever we can get it.) Actively, yet silently thinking. I still feel a sharp pang when I see TV commercials about underprivileged youth taking a train to work, carrying garbage bags down several flights of stairs for hours, reading a homework assignment on the way home ... and then coming home to a mom in bed. My kids were/are not underprivileged and they did not have to ride a train ... but night after night, year after year, that was their life, their lives.

My baby, the one who was a senior in high school the year I spent on the couch sobbing about missing teaching ... the thought of that year catches my heart and in my throat EVERY time it crosses my mind. As the youngest of four he did NOT get the attention any of his brothers did when he was a child and I mourned that. I wondered if he would ever know ME. The me I never got to be with him. Or if I would ever know HIM. The person he was/is when not with a brother or three. Until he was 18 and I was 51 it didn't happen. Oh, we had moments, plenty of them. But not the time an INFJ mom needs with her children. And not the time another introvert needs with his mom. I'd have NEVER chosen that opportunity for time spent, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. The year I got to be there, fully foggily there when he came home from school, from work, from time with friends ... was its own sort of amazingly perfect mother and child reunion.

I know I've apologized to them for being sick at least a million times. They know it's not my fault, I know it's not my fault, and yet I do it still. WHY? Because it beats sobbing, "I am SOOOOO not the mother I wanted to be to you. I am SOOOO disappointed" every time I see them. Because they are, too.

Are they all amazing young men now? Yes, by the grace of G-d; their own hard work; and a mom who was a mom ... from the couch.

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