People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

Letting Go

I got an email last night, a note from a friend about my last post.

She reminded me of something, the idea that was central to all my parenting decisions before the crises of recent years distracted me.

That idea was this: my children are not mine. They do not belong to me; I don’t get to mold them. They are themselves, whole people, born to God’s purpose, not mine.

Why did I have children? Was it so that I would have companionship? So that I would have friends?

No. I had children for the love of them. For love. And in that, I have succeeded completely, because I am filled to over-flowing with love for my children.

By that measure, I am a slam-dunk, unmitigated, absolute success as a mother. (That’s actually a little silly to say because I don’t think that most things can be categorized that way, and especially not parenting. We are not successes or failures; we are complex people and we can’t divide ourselves into two discrete groups. Also, parents who love their children still sometimes do horrifying things to them, so it’s not like it’s a real measure of parental success. In spite of all of that, I’m going to leave that sentence there and assume that you know what I mean.)

My friend’s email reminded me that I can be OK no matter what; whether Jacob or Abbie chooses to to return to a fuller relationship with me or not, I can be OK.

I can heal.

Not to say that having the limited relationships that I have with them now is what I want; not to say that the thought doesn’t burn through me like a flaming dagger. It does.

No, really, it hurts. I have the ibuprofen on board, but my head is still pounding; the bottle of Tums is open next to me. I have a cool washcloth for my swollen face because the looking-at-this, the facing-what-is…it hurts.

My kids are hurt and angry, and I am the focus of those difficult feelings. There is nothing about that to like; nothing comforting, lovely, or poetic in it. I wrap these words around it, try to make sense of it, but in reality? No words can touch the blazing ball of agony that lives behind my sternum.

And yet…

No happy relationship was ever created via hostage-taking. I decided long, long ago that I will only participate in freely-chosen relationships. I won’t force or be forced. I made that decision on the heels of a painful break-up; I knew that if I begged him, he would stay. I also knew that acquiescence to coercion is not love.

What i didn’t anticipate when I made that decision was that someday, I would apply it to my relationship with my children.

Because that’s different, isn’t it? Most of us know that we can’t control our parents, friends, spouses, siblings, and co-workers. But our children – we’re responsible for them! We chose them, we pour our love and devotion and hope into them. Still, they are themselves.

Jacob, creative and kind.

Abbie, fierce and generous.

They might not come back to me. What we have going on over here is far beyond ordinary teenager angst, and healing from our wounds might not include coming back to each other in the ways I would have hoped. I won’t give up on that; I’ll never give up on the closeness I expected we would share when they reached adulthood.

I’m just going to learn not to expect it anymore.

Now, I begin the process of letting go of my regret and my expectations and enjoy the time I have with them now. They are my children, and I love them. Whatever happens, I love them.

Hey, have y’all heard about Band Back Together? You need to git yer ass on over there, and in a hurry!

We all have challenges, right? Whatever those challenges are, we need support to survive. So some bloggers, led by Aunt Becky of Mommy Wants Vodka, got together and created a group blog, a place where we can share our stories of pain and survival. Head on over and share some love with the people who have already posted stories and if you have a tale to tell you can do that, too.

My favorite part is this: the site is 100% moderated. All the posts and all the comments are reviewed by one of your friendly neighborhood editors – maybe even me! That means that you are safe; no trolls, no snark, no judgment, because we are standing between you and all that is evil on the internet. You can post anonymously or use your name; your choice. Whatever you need to do to feel safe and supported, do that.

I’m in awe of the brave and beautiful stories that people have already shared and very proud of helping to create a place where that can happen.

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13 comments to Letting Go

  • I’m so glad that the email helped. Since like I already told you I was this close to writing: OMG YOU HATE ME. STOP HATING ME! PRETEND I DIDNT SEND IT! YAY!

    I’m glad that I wrote it before my brain got in the way. You know what I mean?

    And I’m very moved that you understood. You are an amazing friend.

    PS. Band Back Together is lovely! Great job!

    • You know how sometimes, someone says or writes something to you and you just know, “Oh, that’s the truth. Of course!” And it hurts but it’s so obviously true?

      Yeah, it was that.

      I have far less control than I’d like to think I have. Thank you for reminding me of that, because as much as that knowledge hurts, it’s the only way to be free.

  • Suzanne

    Your blogs have touched me deeply. I am reminded of my Father, we were never able to reconcile our relationship. I see something in you that wasn’t present in my situation – You LOVE you kids! Openly, honestly and fiercely. You impact their lives. They have built values based on that impact. What lies between you now can be let go. Often as we mature we search ourselves for what we believe and return to those values. Your pain is great. I can feel it in you’re writing. It may not come back the way you hoped, but it may come back better. I send you *hugz*, prayers and good thoughts.

  • Lowering our expectations, no matter what they might be, is hard. And I can only imagine how lowering your expectations on relationships with your children would hurt. (HUGS)

  • I too have let go of relationships and hoped that they would come back. Some have. And are better even. Some have gone away forever. The one that I had hoped the most is the one that is the farthest away.

    With that in mind, I cannot imagine how many times greater it would be if one of those relationships was with my son. My heart cannot fathom your hurting or your longing.

    And Band Back Together? I have registered. You will see me there. Soon I hope. I cried when I saw it for the first time. It is the best idea in a LONG time. Seriously.


  • I love how tempered you are … how understanding. I know it’s probably not always easy, but you’re doing a great job at healthy.

    And now I must find out this Band Back Together thing, because it sounds like something I could really use. I get tired of always talking about food on your face.

    Thanks for bringing it up, and thanks for this post. As always. Mwah.

    • Aw, thank you! Yeah, I have my moments. Sometime I am a complete mess, just a puddle of anguish, and sometimes I have a little more distance.

      Yeah, I’ve thought of that, what BBT could be for people like you who write very focused blogs that don’t lend themselves to those painful life stories.

      And thank you again!

  • There is a reason they call it unconditional love. You love no matter if it is returned, turned away, requited or otherwise. You do the best you can do…that’s all anyone can ask.

  • Ally

    My mom could have written this post. I am 35 now but when I was a teen I hated her for the stupid decisions she made. I can hear her voice in yours. I can now see her perspective. Back then I was just a stupid teen angry at the world and angry that my mom wasnt there for me when I needed her. Typical teen stuff, slightly magnified.

    We have been friends on and off since then. Me, the angry teen, has grown up and really just wants the mom back again. Please don’t try to take it too personally. My mom did and still ruminates over it to this day. It pulls her in and out of depression. She compares everything to that teen angst. Me – I don’t really remember it, and I bet your kids won’t either. They just want a mom. Be there, but not to pushy. They will come back. Don’t stay too far away because when they do need you/want you in their lives like you were when they were kids, you should be there without a grudge.

    Teens are hormonal balls of craziness that say and do things they shouldn’t. My kids aren’t teens yet and I dread the day it happens. I take everything personally so I can’t imagine it will go well for us either.

    I don’t know if this makes any sense at all but I just want to let you know that they do love you even when they talk and actike they don’t. You are a good mom. We all make mistakes. Hugs to you.

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