T and me are sitting here watching Mr. Bean and he is chatting away to me about school and the things that happened.
Than he drops these nuggets on me:
‘Hey mom, today the substitute teacher said that we had to work independently. I told him I was already single.’
I could only look at him and shake my head.
‘Hey mom, than he told us we had to work with a partner. I told him I was already hooked up with someone.’
I am a little worried. He was chortling away and I had no words. I could do nothing but stare at him in disbelief.
The Ex and me, we don’t always see eye to eye. Different parenting styles, different people, different lives all around.
Last evening one of the girls was over at his place for an evening of drinks and relaxation. And this was what she overheard. All I can say is that I am sure that this is the sweetest thing bar none that he has ever said about me:
‘She is a great mom. We have an amazing relationship and parent so well together. But she speaks her mind and doesn’t hold back. But that is okay.’
Now it has taken us a long time to get here. When first we split up and then when I moved out there was so much animosity. We could not tolerate one another and when we did have to interact World War III was simmering beneath the surface. There were a few times where I nearly stabbed him with a fork I was so angry however was able to maintain a level head. I really did not want to go to jail for stabbing him.
I am sure that there are things that I do that he does not agree with. I tend to be more open with T about things. I explain. My parenting is not about ‘do this because I said so’. My actions speak so much louder than my words do and if I want T to be l00x better than I am or ever was, I had better be providing him with a damn good example to follow.
I do have language issues. T is forever telling me to watch it. I have to laugh because he also tells characters in the t.v. shows we watch and any singers with explicit language in their songs, to watch their language. I have heard him a few times use shit or hell. As one of his dad’s siblings is married to someone who was once a farmer, I watched their three kids grow up and using the word shit as young as 5. I cringed but as it was explained to me, they heard it all day long. It was used to fertilize the fields. So on and so forth. At least T waited until he was 9 before I heard him.
It is also important to me that he treats everyone the same. When he does not say good morning, or thank you, or please with others (i.e. school crossing guard, someone holding the door open for him/him holding doors for others and so on and so forth) I lecture. And I will do so until it becomes second nature.
T is an amazing kid. He is smart. Funny. Has a sarcastic sense of humor much like my own. He is fast to quip.
We were discussing how I needed to ensure that he was properly equipped for school. Jacket, that is a big one a) because at 9 he is too cool to wear proper winter attire and b) because it is March and who wears winter coats in March? Well if you live in Manitoba, you may well be wearing your winter coat until June. As we are going back and forth T looks at me and says if I am to make sure he is properly equipped for school where were his rubber boots? I admit, I barked with laughter before attempting to school my face into a disgruntled mom look, it did not work.
I also see his dad in there too. He is great with his hands. The designs he creates in Scrap Mechanic and Minecraft amaze me. Mechanically inclined as he has been helping his dad in the shop since he was 2. He can fold clothes from the dryer better than I can. (Which is why I hang everything up that can be hung up)
While there are times that I wonder what the Ex is thinking he is a good dad. He loves T with every fiber of his being. And when they have the time to hang out together, they have a blast.
As always this ended up being more about me and T than my thanking the Ex for the kind things he said about me. But I can only take the idea and go with it, the rest flows to my fingers and onto the page.
While neither the Ex nor I were good partners for one another, we are great parents together for T. And really at the end of it, is that not the best example that we both can provide him? He saw the fights between us and now he sees that we talk to one another. That we are friends. These last few months, the Ex helped me with food and lunches for T. He let me keep his share of the baby bonus each month so I could ensure that my bills were paid and I could buy groceries.
He really is not a bad man. And I hope that he is with the woman that is going to make him happy forever. Because I do want him to be happy. I want him to have a love that fills him from head to toes with light and laughter and songs. I was not that person and it is okay. We had a good life together and we have an amazing son. And now we are friends. And I can turn to him for help whenever I need it.
Something is just not right.
I know this because I sat here yesterday after cleaning my house, listening to country songs about great loves and happy endings. And I sobbed.
This morning, I ripped right into T as soon as he got up. Unleashed the tongue of death and completely ruined both of our days. He is in the bathroom crying and showering and I am drinking my coffee and crying.
I feel like a fraud. I am angry. I feel under-appreciated. I feel like I am the most selfish woman on the face of the planet to be bemoaning my petty little issues while people are facing larger ones on a daily basis. I just want all these feelings to stop. My heart hurts, my body hurts, everything hurts and I do not know what I have done to bring this on.
Because yes, I am falling down that rabbit hole again. And while at this point and time I seem to realize and know, I am unable to stop it.
Is it because it is Christmas? A time of good cheer and joy? A time where people blame me because we ran out of brussel sprouts, or the turkey just is not the right size. I will be worn down, facing the hoards with a smile on my face and joie de vie in my voice. When I get home, I will be numb, unable to talk to anyone, alone in my head.
All I really want to do is curl up in a little ball and hide. Maybe sleep a little longer. I cannot as I will not give into these feelings, but oh my god do I want to.
I bounce from one level to the next. Happy. Sad. Giddy with excitement for Christmas. Cringing because I have to face the hoards. There is no constant. Oh and the anger that hits me out of nowhere like a bolt of lightning. I have been here so many times and I know that a critical factor in this is the amount of pressure that I am putting on myself.
- Be a good mom
- Be a good boss
- Be a good employee
- Be happy
- Be perfect
- Do everything by the book
- Follow all the rules
- Have a kind word for everyone
- Smile more
- Pay the bills
- Be a good friend
Those are not in order. Except for the be a good mom. That is always at the top of my list and that there, is the one I fail at all the time. I want to be a great mom, one that T is going to hold up as his example to being a parent. But I will fall into the other category I am sure, how not to be like mom.
I also realize deep deep down, that when I come out of this, I will not feel this way. But today, right now I do. As we both cry, and I hold him close and apologize, I know that this is not the real me. That this shrew is a mish mash of shit that I am carting around. That my depression is making one hell of a play for my mind, and I will eventually climb my way free.
But today is going to be a shit day. A hard day. I would rather stay home and stew. Cry. Maybe stand under the shower and scream. Instead, I will stand up straight, paint a smile on my face, and I will pretend.
Pretend to be a good mom, boss, employee, human being. I will hide my tears and speak only of good things, sugar plums and dancing fairies.
And I will wait.
Wow so this is what I have to look forward to?
T is going to movies and doused himself in Axe.
My eyes are watering and the cats are hiding.
How long does this particular phase last?
He has no clue, I hollered just a tad, he came out and says to me but mom it was only a few squirts.
His few squirts means the entire block can smell him.
T began school on Wednesday. The above picture was taken before we left for school. He was grinning when he came out of his class and I was there to greet him. He said he had had a good day. I was encouraged given that T is not a huge fan of the education process. He read 51 pages in his new Dogman book Wednesday evening. Even more encouraging. And he went to bed like a champ.
Thursday did not have an auspicious beginning. I was up and down all night long. My hips and lower back were killing me. (I have since discovered the reason why) And so finally at 4 a.m. or so I rolled out of bed. Made a pot of coffee and sat down to try and be productive. But I could not focus. My head felt woozy and I ached everywhere. It got to such a point that I went and laid down on the couch curled into myself as I tried to get warm.
T had wanted me to walk him to school but that was not going to happen. I felt like I could not walk all the way to his school, as I was hobbling around my hips screaming in agony and my lower back felt as though something was reaching in and twisting all the muscles upside down and knotted. I took two extra strength Motrin and began to have some mobility in my legs. I hopped in the car to do my grocery shopping and a Wal-mart run.
By the time I got home it (and at this time I was still not sure what it was) my good feeling had worn off. I unpacked the groceries and left off portioning out the meat until today. Laid down on the couch and hauled the blanket over top of me. And fell asleep. I did awaken once but still tired, went back to sleep. The next time I woke up I was freezing. Ice cold. My teeth were chattering, my body shaking. I could not believe I had the flu but there you have it, I did.
T came home Thursday and dropped off his bag and went out to play with his friends. A good time was had by all and T even came inside and spent the majority of his evening with me. Went to bed without an problems. And than it began.
‘Mom, do I have to go to school tomorrow?’
‘Yes you do.’
‘But I want to stay home with you. I don’t want to go to school.’
‘Why not? What is going on tomorrow you don’t want to do?’
‘Nothing I just need a long weekend.’
‘No, you are going to school.’
And the crying began. I am positive that he cried himself to sleep. I too fell asleep. And began the night from a really bad place. It was not hell like but it was not good. I was up and down, freezing and hot. My body was still all achy. The cats finally had enough of my tossing and turning and moved to the other side of the bed. At 3ish or so, I awoke and thought I can’t handle this any more. I reached down and pulled up the fluffy blanket that I have at the foot of the bed. I never use it. Still aching I decided on more Motrin and hobbled to the kitchen for them and a swig of Pepsi. I had a sugar craving. When I went to get back in bed I realized how cold it was and turned on the heat. Yes I turned on the heat, pulled on a sweat jacket and crawled back into bed.
At 6 a.m. T’s alarm went off and I rolled over. I was coated in flu sweat, my sweat jack sodden, my hair was even wet. I rolled out of bed and turned the heat off. Went in and shook T to get up. Turned his alarm off as it was still blaring. He got up and was in a great mood. Right up until 8 a.m. when I made him get off computer and brush his teeth. I realized that I did not hear the water and told T to get in there. That is when he said he was not going to school today.
I did not handle the situation well. I could say it is because I am tired, I have the flu, I am a million and one things, but pissed off for this one. T kept saying he wanted to spend the day with me. Why did I not want to spend the day with him? I tried the explanation thing, to no avail. And than he began to cry and whine. He did not want to go to school. He wanted to spend the day with me. All in a whiney voice as he snorted back his snot his eyes kinda shiny with tears.
I told him I did not take kindly to the manipulative tactic he was attempting to use on me. I told him to get his sweater on. More crying. More whining. I told him to get his shoes on. More crying. More whining. Are you sensing the theme here?
We walked down to the garbage and T was insisting that I walk him to school. So he could spend as much time with me as possible. I said fine but we had to go back home so I could change and get the keys. He cried the entire way back. And while he sat on the stairs. And than again when we got outside. He kept saying he would miss me. He needed to be with me today.
T cried all the way to school. Holding my hand. I was short with him because well, he had been using that whining now for almost 45 minutes. He kept asking me to turn around and go back home. I was so angry. I informed him that we were going to go and talk to his teacher. We walked up there and at first I figured it would be okay, he would see his friends and that would be end of it. But no.
At his hut I told him to leave his bag there and go play with his friends. He refused. And than proceeded to tell me he was going home. He was not going into the classroom. That is when I lost all semblance of even trying for the nonchalant I have it all together type of mom. I grabbed him by his school bag and dragged him over to the stairs. He slipped and there I was dragging him up the stairs to the door.
Knocked on door and went in to talk to his teacher. T cried the whole time. I was short and to the point with his teacher. I really had no idea where this was coming from. He felt as though he could get nothing right in class. Math was awful and he was struggling with it already. I did not tell him that T did not like him because well T did tell me that one in confidence. So I am sharing in a blog, on the internet, that is not breaking confidence clause is it?
To top it off I look like crap because of the rough night. I am coated in and smell of flu sweat, my hair is barely combed and I had not brushed my teeth yet so was really in no position to even initiate adult like conversation.
I gave T one last hug and had to unwrap his arms from around my waist. I promised I would be back at 3:45 to meet him. I would be standing right outside the classroom. And than I walked out the door. Coldly, callously, T’s little staring after me with betrayal written all over his face.
Did I want to comfort him? Yes. Wrap my arms around him and tell him that it would all be okay? Yes. That I want to pull out my magic wand and fix all that is wrong in his life? Yes.
Instead I had to be a mean mom. I had to harden my heart and walk away. T is not going to hate me forever and ever, although at this point and time I am sure I am his least favorite person, next to the teacher. And the reason I had to do this was because I need to set limits and boundaries with T.
I know he is growing up and out, he is wanting his independence and his safety blanket mom waiting in the wings. I know that he will push me to see what point he can actually get away to before I order the cease and desist. And also because not everything in life is about fun and games.
I will go pick T up after school. We will take a slow walk home and I will get him some ice cream too. We will have a conversation about his behaviour and mine. I will apologize for some of the things I said. And hopefully I have established a new boundary that T will respect. Otherwise it is going to be a long winter for T with reading as his only occupation.
Today is going to be the 2nd hardest day of T’s life to date. I would say his first hardest was when I moved out of the family home into our apartment. Like that time period, he had to adjust and redefine his reality. This is going to be the same. Today is the day that T’s best friend K is moving. An hour away.
Yesterday T and me, we put on a helluva show for the neighbors and others who were lucky enough to have caught it. At one point the RCMP drove by and all I could think was wonderful, I am going to be arrested for making T go for a walk. Again. This time I did not even make a lap around the park I was so furious. Walking back I steamed. When we got home he refused to come in.
It was awesome. His dad had text to say he was going to take T shopping. I text him back and said come and get him. I cannot deal with this attitude. I went outside and told him his dad was coming to get him. And I ruined his life even more by telling both of his friends that he was grounded. The t.v., the play station, youtube, computer, all gone.
When his dad arrived I explained everything to him and handed the Fire Kindle back saying T is not allowed any electronics. I assumed that he would think that I was over-reacting so was a bit on the defensive. He did not. And when T came out and was snarky with me, my ex said T’s name and looked at him.
I went back inside, still angry. I was so tired of T’s attitude. All I had wanted was for T and me to go for a quick walk while his friends were not home. This whole show was for a point he had snippily informed me, as he did not want to go for a walk. But your friends were not even home, I pointed out, so there was no one to play with. You did this all for nothing.
I mulled it over. Text back and forth with K’s mom M and finally I decided that because it was K’s last night I would allow T to play with his friends. I still was not giving him back his electronics because he acted like a little snot, but I would not be the cause of irreparable childhood scars for not letting him play with his best friend, on his last night, as our next door neighbor.
They played and all things were grand until T came in and he had tears on his face. Angry that he could not play with his friends, he could not understand why they had gone into one’s house without him. He wanted to go knock on the door again, and while I sympathized with him, I had to caution him that it was inappropriate to go banging on the door again. In under two minutes. Than he heard the boys and went off running. Only to return three minutes later tears leaking down his cheeks.
I held my arms open and he flew over to the couch. I held him, rubbing his back and rocking him, my heart breaking and my own tears falling. I told him that K was only an hour away and that with school starting he would make new friends, people he had never met before. T shook his head and said ‘no mom, I have no other friends. And I know everyone in grade 4.’
I had no argument for him. I held him until he felt better and he sat up. I cajoled him into the shower. The tears had left tracks in the dirt on his face. And he had said it was shower night anyways. We sat on the couch and talked a little bit more. I let him watch Larva and I watched it with him. A show that I cannot fathom nor explain. It is on Netflix.
He was in bed and asleep at 9. I am holding firm on that one. We have been getting back into the swing of a 9 p.m. bedtime so I won’t have to fight next week. This morning when he got up, I text M to see if they were awake. They were. T and K are together for the last little while.
As I was writing this, any residual anger that I felt at T for his behaviour has leaked away. Instead I am ashamed that I was not more compassionate towards him. He is 9. His best friend since he was 1.5 years old is moving today. They have been neighbors for over a year. Don’t get me wrong that does not excuse T’s behaviour, and the repercussions still stand, but compromise might be possible. After I get my house cleaned. And his room purged. And the cat litter boxes cleaned………..