This is a very personal blog to write. I’ve mentioned about issues that I am having with my children and although I know that with time and maturity, they will see things differently (I hope), the real issue affecting me is how this makes me feel personally right now.
At first I felt as though it was a lack of care, attention, or any other parenting issue that 3 teenagers can have with their parents that was bothering me but I looked back and couldn’t find any area of maltreatment. I busted my arse to be a good mother to them. Every single day for decades. I wasn’t perfect. Oh heck no! I wasn’t too proud to admit my mistakes though and ask for their forgiveness. Even if I didn’t feel “at fault”, if they were feeling hurt? I was sorry and said so.
I tried to just move past their leaving me and spend my time enjoying my newly emptied nest but something always came back for me to deal with. If I refused to listen to that voice during the day? I’d dream about it at night. There is no escape.
Finally it came to me after another really hard day filled with tears and questioning myself. It is not the mothering stuff that they are unhappy with. It is me personally.
You see, I used to be this doormat that just did everything for them and nothing for myself. If they needed anything at all, I would drop my own plans to manage theirs. Their happiness and satisfaction was paramount. This all well and nice but it was also at the expense of my own needs. I totally ignored my own needs.
Sadly this was my children’s “normal”.
Then I went away. I was hospitalized for 4 months during 2013.
The woman who left was a very depressed, constantly suicidal, confused, anxious person who had not even a tiny shred of self-worth.
I was trying to be a great mother, a great wife, a great friend, a great sister-in-law, and a great worker but all of these efforts were drawing off reserves that were long since depleted. I was running on empty for a very long time.
While I was away, I learned some really “simple” concepts that I should have been taught in childhood but wasn’t.
I learned about taking care of myself in many ways. My own social needs, my ability to provide self-care, the need for self nurturing, I figured out who “Heather” actually was. Not just my title positions of “Mom”, “Wife”, or “Friend”, but rather who Heather was. I didn’t even have my own favourite colour when I left. I couldn’t admit to someone else that I did not agree with their taste of music. I just agreed with everything because I really had no idea of my own opinions at all. I made friends while there and realized that people could actually like and appreciate me just for being me. I was shocked. Truly shocked. I’d held such a long-held belief in my own unworthiness and I was so shame filled, I couldn’t imagine anyone liking me especially if they “really knew me”.
But they did. 🙂
Then I came home.
I came home a very different person than who I was when I left.
I was happier, I was no longer suicidal every moment (I still have it in my mind now and then but it is not constant any longer), I was better able to care for myself and know what I needed.
I’d learned that my needs were important and by not taking care of myself, I was almost useless to anyone else in the long-term. I was so close to completely burning out my life light at that point. Learning to refuel myself saved my life. Literally.
It all sounds great but the kids got back a woman whom they’d never met before.
Other people in my life got this new Heather as well but as adults, they saw it as positive steps in the right direction. Kids don’t always see it that way.
I still did things for the kids but I also took care of myself.
“Yes I can pick you up after school but I am busy until 4 so it will be as soon as I can get there after that okay?”
“Sure you can go over to Sally’s house on the weekend but I have to pick you up at 10am rather than 4pm because your father and I have plans.”
“Sally is welcome for supper but she needs to leave by 8pm because we need a quiet evening after this busy week.”
The kids still got everything that they did before but now they were forced to think of me as well. I was not more important than anyone else but I went from no need for any thought at all, to actually becoming a person with needs of my own.
To them? This is mom being very selfish.
Sadly the comment that I have heard most often in the past 2 years is how I have changed and they don’t like me since I came home from the hospital. They don’t like who I am at all now and they refuse to even speak to me. 😦
This is where it gets painful. You see, I learned who I really was while I was away. I grew in to myself then and in the months after I came home. I found my passion for writing, I began to be creative through my Tangled Art, when they had problems, I actually had a few solutions for them too. I knew what worked for me and I was excited to share it. They did not appreciate that at all. When I had no answers, I was useless, when I tried to share what I had learned, I was acting like a therapist. Really? There is no way to win is there?
I became a happier person. I began to get out more and take part in things that I would have never even tried before. I also stopped doing some things that I had to admit I was not doing for myself. I was doing them because someone else told me I would like it.
This new person is so much better off in so many ways but the kids do not like this person at all. They all agree and say that they liked me far better before I went away. Even when their father tells them that I would be dead today if I had not gone away (truth) to learn all that I did, they still want me back that way. It is all they ever knew and they miss their old mom. I wasn’t happy but it is that woman that they are comfortable with. I do not blame them for this. Not at all. Teenagers in particular are not the best at being understanding souls but they are getting older now and I hope they start to mature into realizing that I am still the mom they loved but now I am stronger and that is good for ALL of us.
The biggest ouch is that they do not like ME. I know who I am now and that is who they don’t like. The actual Heather that emerged from that horribly dark and confining cocoon is who they do not like. They don’t see my wings, they don’t see the new colour that has been added to my life. They do not see me soar. They see a bug and they don’t like it.
I can’t go back to who I was back then. I can’t revert to that sad place where no light shone. I don’t want to but it truly breaks me heart to admit that my kids just don’t like me at all any longer. It is very personal. It is very painful.
I hope that they will grow up a bit more and mature in to realizing what they are asking me to do. I hope they will begin to display the love, respect and compassion that was always given to them and return it right back to their parents. Until then? If there is ever a “then”? Honestly I just don’t know.
What would you do???