Take today for instance.
I am at the library, where I am trying to work on grading papers, which were supposed to have been done on Thursday, and which are nowhere close to being finished. My phone rings. It is Son #1. He started a new job this week and is supposed to be at work today. He doesn't usually call me. I wonder what is wrong.
"I have a warranty on my glasses, right?" I tell him that he does, but I think it expired in February. And I remind him that when we replaced his glasses last year, they told him that he would need an eye exam the next time.
"Don't you have a backup pair of glasses?" I ask. He tells me those are broken too.
"How badly are your glasses broken? Do they just need a new sidepiece, or are they too broken to repair?"
Both pair, according to him, are broken beyond repair.
"I want contacts. Can you help me?"
I sigh. I am really struggling with what parenting is supposed to look like at this age.
My son is 23. Has a serious diagnosed mental health issue. Has been hospitalized twice, for extended time periods, for this issue, in the last year.
He struggles to hold a job. Started a new job this week. Got his first paycheck.
And I am wondering, how much am I supposed to do for him? And how much is he supposed to do for himself?
And now he is asking me to buy glasses. After a lengthy discussion, I told him he needed to stop spending his money however he wants, e.g. on beer and marijuana (I live in Colorado) and video games, and start paying his own expenses. He needs to buy his own glasses.
And now I'm feeling really guilty. I don't know that he will go get glasses himself and he really needs them. He has to drive for his job. What if he has a car accident because he can't see? And if he has an accident at work, he will probably lose his job. And if he has an accident with his car, I will be responsible for it, and we will probably lose our insurance, because he has had several other accidents.
This is when I wish I was married. Had someone else to do tag team.
Because I am pretty much feeling like a complete and total mother failure right now.
Oh man, you are not a failure. Just hearing the list of ways you help support and love your son proves this. Mothering is HARD. Single parent mothering honestly is even more difficult for obvious reasons. I'm one too. I understand your struggle to a large extent. Don't be so hard on yourself. Maybe make a deal with him. Maybe sit down with him and look over his finances to help him budget so he can pay his car and insurance. In the meantime, it's not the worst thing if you help him out with his glasses. It really isn't. You're so right that he needs to prioritize, hopefully he will learn this lesson. In the meantime. Do what feels right. I'm sorry this is such a long comment. My heart goes out to you!
This is tough. And I have no answers, but there is no reason for you to feel like a complete and total failure. You have done so much for your boys. My sister, who has six adopted children, used to remind herself that she took her children further than they would have gone without her. And I so wish you had someone to share this parenting load with you.
I agree with BKitch - being a mother is the hardest job int he world and it never gets easier no matter how old our kids get! You have have helped your son a lot, but there are special circumstances. I think BKitch offered some great advice. Does your son have a social worker? Is there an ACT program in your county Assertive Community Treatment? My daughter is the director of a program here in PA. They meet with clients weekly and help them with strategies that will help them live on their own. They might be a resource for you and your son. Take care!
No, you are not a failure. You're the best you can. Parenting is so hard - you have to be a different parent for each child and you never get to stop being a parent. I agree with Rita, can you find some outside resources to help? Or maybe you already have? Take care of yourself, too!
What an open, honest post. Thank you for sharing what is imbedded in your heart and mind right now. I wish I knew what to tell you to do. I wish there were someone to share this walk with. So much I don't know, but I do think that I can see this: You have been a lifeline and a support when your son needed it, and it sounds like you have known when and how to pull back and give him the reins too. I hope you will soon get some clarity on this issue as well. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
That is a long list of hard things! I'm not sure how a person decides when to help and when not to help an adult child. When my grandmother passed away we found boxes of cancelled checks. When my uncle was in his 30s she was still giving him a monthly allowance to help with his expenses. I know the it was hard for her, but she couldn't say no to him....even though he always had money of his own for beer and cigarettes. Maybe his employer or the bank to do an automatic transfer of money each paycheque into a savings account for him. My husband's expense claims, for example, go into a separate account from his paycheques. He has a different debit card for this account. It's amazing how fast $50 every 2 weeks can add up.
You are not a failure! Being a single parent is very difficult, even if your child is grown. I am a single parent of 3 grown children who are all in their 30's, but I'm not an empty-nester.... extenuating circumstances still make living at home with me necessary for one of mine. Some children just need more help or need help longer than others. Keep doing the best you can to guide your son into independence. Hugs to you! ~JudyK
I'm so sorry you have this issue, but don't ever think you were a failure as a mom. You have been a life line for those boys. Yes, son does need to become responsible for his choices. It's so hard as a parent to let kids fall.
I am sorry for this, Carol. I hear that you feel terrible and that you're a failure. Remember that if your sons were highly successful and doing well you would be proud of them, but would not take all the credit. Most would be about their actions that got them there. So when there's trouble, that does not mean it's all on you. You love them and help in so many ways. One of the commenters mentioned a special program & it feels like that might help. Then it wouldn't be "mom" telling the "son" what to do, but a counselor who is there to guide. One thing I think you should be clear about is changing the car insurance so that you are not in danger of losing it yourself. One step at a time!
Oh, Carol. Repeat after me: I am not a failure. Remember way back in the day you wrote about that looking for that parenting manual? Remember how that manual doesn't exist? Remember how we learn some things the hard way? I think being as supportive as you can and setting him up for success is essential for his future. Finding support that will help him budget his money, pay you back for the glasses, help him make good choices in his life is a great idea -- if he is willing to go. You may have to do some bribing (ie if you do this, I can help you with this...). He needs you and trusts you, but I agree with you in still needing to set some boundaries so that he can learn too. Just my two cents ... something to think about. Thank you for your open and honest slice today. Continue prayers, my friend!
My heart so wanted to reach out to your heart in this post and tell you that you are so not alone in this. I have 4 children, ages 27 - 21 and have so many of these EXACT same stories. At my lowest points, where I am wearing the "I am such a failure as a mother" cape, it is not advice that I seek. We know in our minds what we think we should do, but no one knows our exact situation to be able to offer just the right words.
What I really seek is refuge. I want to feel safe from all of the thoughts and worries that just keep building. Our minds torment us and refuse to give us peace. I have art journaled many a night away to chase away my thoughts and worries. It has worked for me.
But also, you need to know that you are not alone. Many of us have adult children that we keep parenting because he have to. Elizabeth Lesser, in her book, Broken Open, writes about this Open Secret we all share. We all think that everyone else has their life together and we are the only one who does not. Believe it or not, we are all bozos on the bus heading down the path of uncertainty.
You are a brave soul. Whether you think you do the right thing or not, just know that you are doing your best with what you know at this particular time in your life.
This is so tough. You did what you thought was best and you are helping him to take ownership of his life. I found support groups help me with the tough stuff in life. Is there a group for parents of children with disabilities? Perhaps a counselor? It helps to get it out nd to,learn from others who are traveling a similar road.
Sending you lots of kindness today!
Carol - Being a parent seems to get harder when our children are older. The bigger the kid, the bigger ramifications there are with their issues. Though my problems with daughters aren't exactly like yours, when I had to stop giving assists all the time, I felt horrible. If I gave the assist, I wasn't teaching independence. If I didn't give the assist, there were going to be some far-reaching ramifications. No good answers sometimes.
I wish you the best as you continue to deal with this issues as a parent. Hugs.
I am late to the comments and now I see that all of our friends above me have said what I wanted to say to you. Peace ...
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