As a parent, I can attest to the fact that no matter how old our children get, we still want the very best for them. We want them to make good decisions in life. We want them to have a good life and to be the absolute best they can be. When they are doing great and their lives are good, we are so proud of their accomplishments and their hard work. When they screw up…at least I blame myself and wonder where I went wrong in raising them. I’m really wondering now “where did I go wrong?” What made them make the bad decisions they have made I mean, they weren’t raised that way…or were they?
A little background for you so perhaps you can help me determine if I am just being a worried mother or a busy-body. (God, I hope I’m not being a busy body! I hate busy bodies!)
My youngest daughter is going to be 39 years old this spring. She is married (soon to be divorced any day now) 19 years. She has three daughters, 17, 13, and 4. Her husband, J, has never been Mr. Personality. He has never been Mr. Attentive. In one episode of a stupid discussion between he and me after I had received the third or fourth phone call from my daughter, K, in tears, because he just didn’t get it and had promised to take her on a date night and then at the last-minute changed his mind and decided to stay home to watch a basketball game..or football…or hockey..or some other sporting event that he had to see live–no way could he possibly record it and watch it later…my frustration with him was at its peak and, I exclaimed..”I’m tired of receiving phone calls from my child when she is hysterically crying because you have let her down yet again. Face it, J, as a husband….YOU SUCK!” Wow. Where did those angry words come from? Mama Bear protecting her cub? He sat there folding laundry (his, not his families) and totally agreed with me and said he would do better and be the husband that my daughter deserved. I apologized for being upset, explained that I love my children and I will fight for them no matter what their age. He understood. We left the discussion hugging each other and for a few days things in their household was much, better.
Slowly though I could see K growing deeper and deeper into depression and sadness. She refused to talk. Just said that she was working on something. Something that would change her life and her children’s lives and even her husband’s life. I had no clue what she was referring to. Until…the day she announced that she had told her husband to leave. She wanted some space. She didn’t care where he went, just so long as he was gone by the time she got home.
I should have seen the writing on the wall. She had been a stay-at-home mom. I envied the fact that J was a good provider and was willing to work a full-time job and two-part time jobs so that she could stay home with the kids. I had to give him a pat on the back for that. But, she decided out of the blue that she needed to go back to work..NOW! Her friend had an opening in the school she worked at and got K a job there. A few weeks later, K started acting strangely. She would go on shopping trips out-of-town at all odd hours of the night, and J didn’t seem to mind at all. I never understood that. If my spouse all of a sudden wanted to go shopping at 1:00 in the morning and couldn’t tell me exactly what she was doing and why it had to be at 1:00 a.m., I’d have thrown a major tizzy fit. Huh-uh. No good comes from any activity performed at 1:00 a.m. when you can’t explain your whereabouts and refuse to answer your cell phone. J never said a word to her. He seemed oblivious. Sometimes I thought he was relieved that they were apart and he didn’t have to deal with her.
J has a tendency to belittle his oldest daughter, A. She is a sensitive girl and confided in me that she has always felt that her dad did not want her born. He has repeatedly told her what a sweet baby she was and then she grew up to be a spoiled, erratic brat.
I have no delusions that J was a good husband and father. He was however an honest man who worked very hard to support his wife and children in any endeavor that they undertook. Believe me, they each undertook some pretty weird hobbies and J did what he could to support those, to a sense.
K announced in July last summer that sh.e had filed for divorce. She no longer wanted to be married to this man. She just knew that there was a fella out there who could treat her with love, affection, attention and respect. J was NOT that guy. Her dad and I have supported her through her decision.
Shortly after her divorce announcement, she announced that she had been seeing a man that she met at work. He is 38 years old and was going back to school for his GED diploma and to try to find a good job. K’s dad and I gave him the benefit of the doubt and we were reserved but supportive of her. We met C, and something about him rubbed me the wrong way. It’s not that I do not like him. He is a very likeable guy. But, when I asked him what jobs he has had, he had a resume consisting of a cook at a nursing home for a few months, an attendant at a car wash and a short time at a factory that nobody has heard of! What is he doing now to support himself? Nothing. He lives with his aunt. She provides him with money for his cigarettes and for his cell phone and food.
He doesn’t have a vehicle. He has no ambition to better himself in life. He has no job. But, he has basically leached himself to my daughter and she is struggling now to find her way on her personal pay check and her husband’s child support. And, what irritates me the most is she is always telling me that she doesn’t have money to pay her bills, that she is behind on her cell phone bill, behind on her gas bill used to heat her home and behind on her car insurance. She remarked that she did not have money for gas for her car so she could get back and forth to work, so I filled her tank.
I have been worrying about her for the last 7 months and wondering if she was okay and if the kids are being fed properly. She assures me that they are, but that money is just a little tight.
New boyfriend also has back issues requiring pain medication, which is doctor will not give him any more. So, when he learned that The Mr. is taking pain medication, he and K drove out here to “visit”. It took approximately 15 minutes until he was asking for just a few pills to get him through the next few days. A few days later, he and K came out to supposedly help me with the snow in the drive way. They got their vehicle stuck and he had to do some shoveling. That ended the helping with the snow removal/plowing/shoveling they were going to help me do. He promptly came in and plopped on our sofa only to start moaning and groaning about how badly his back was killing him, and The Mr. and I knew what was coming next. Sure enough. After about 30 minutes of his groaning around and neither one of us offering him a pain pill, he blatently asked for “some”.
I talked to K a few hours later and told her that we do not run a drug house and I don’t appreciate him treating us like that’s what it is. She said she was aware of how we felt and that several things had been brought to her attention lately and she is convinced that he may not be her Knight in Shining Armour, and she was going to have to break ties with him so she could concentrate on her girls and learning to live on her income and not what she was used to living on with her husband.
O.K….now for the train wreck. She is headed for one. This weekend, she and her “friend” just got in the car and drove. They ended up in Tennessee, and having a gay old-time. I don’t begrudge her having fun. BUT…I know damned well who paid for this trip. K’s bills won’t get paid again. Her children will be forced to do without and the groceries in the house will not be stocked.
What’s a parent to do? When do our children reach the age where we quit worrying about them and let them screw up their lives? I know I can’t change things. I know that she is going to continue to see this guy until she wakes up and smells the coffee (if she has the money to buy it). I just worry so much about her and I worry more about her children. They didn’t ask for any of this, but got dealt the hand anyway.
I guess I don’t understand because I sacrificed my happiness for that of my children. I wanted them to have as normal of a home life as was possible within my power to give them. I knew I could not provide for them on my own as well as they would be provided for by the two of us. Even though at times I regret my decision to forego happiness, I do not regret my decision to keep my children’s happiness up there at number one!
So, I’ll ask again…how do you stop the train wreck that is going to occur and destroy an entire family in the process?