When I became a mom, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy job. Parenting is hard. I did think that it would become easier at some point.
Let’s just say, some point has not yet arrived.
Parenting Hope at 20 is as challenging as parenting Hope at 12; the challenge is just different. She had a taste of freedom when she was away at school, and while I don’t have a lot of rules, the ones I do have I’m pretty serious about. We bump heads occasionally over it, but I’m the mom and the mortgage payer–I make the rules.
My fears for my daughter are different in some ways. Good decision-making has been a struggle for Hope this last year, and unfortunately she has felt the heavy gravity of some of her poor decisions. It’s been hard to watch, and it’s also hard to trust her in some areas as a result. I’ve learned that she doesn’t really get that trust is hard earned and easily lost. My trust issues when it comes to Hope feel so trauma based. I sometimes even feel panicky when I think about what has lead to my distrust. It doesn’t feel good.
And low key, I sometimes feel like, does my kid have any idea how her decisions, actions, choices affect anyone else besides her? There’s almost always a financial cost. There is the emotional cost and when she pays the consequences, sometimes I’m caught up in that foolishness as well. So, yes, there is a deeply selfish component that drives me nuts too.
And then there’s just decisions that leave me perplexed and wondering what’s going to happen next. For example, Hope has been working for about 3 weeks. She’s called out twice. The first time she said she didn’t feel well–she didn’t seem sick. Today, she didn’t have a reason. As a manager, I would be concerned that she wasn’t the best hire and that maybe she isn’t terribly responsible. A third call-out would very likely result in a termination–there are just too many people in need of a job for any company to deal with a lackadaisical work ethic. I just don’t get it.
When I discovered she wasn’t going to work today, I silently fumed. I’ve been telling myself to chill out because after a year of doing so little that it would take a while for her to find her footing. When she worked last year, she was a dedicated, reliable and a strong team player. Now, not so much. And, right or wrong, it’s driving me absolutely nuts.
I take a lot of pride in my work ethic. I routinely pull 50+ hour weeks; I cram as much as I can into my work day. I’m super productive. I have learned this year that my anxiety drives a lot of this behavior, which isn’t good, but somehow I make it work. Motherhood changed my work and career priorities a lot; it was wonderful to pull back and find self-worth in mothering. These last couple of years, I’ve been able to dive back into work, and I hopefully set an example for discipline and productivity.
Yeah…that doesn’t seem to be the case though, and honestly I seethe because of it. I want Hope to be successful at whatever it is she is going to do. For me success is 80% hard work and 20% luck. I’m not sure what equation Hope uses in terms of success or even if she’s thought that far. I just know that her approach, such that it is because I do not think it is planned or thought out, is just to float.
This is driving me nuts and I’m fully aware that ultimately it’s my issue. Hope is going to do what she’s going to do–or not.
As calmly as I could, I told Hope about the possibility of self-sabotage, and I got a blank stare. I told her the truth that I was disappointed to see her calling out twice in as many weeks for no clear reason. I also told her that how I feel about how she handles her employment is my issue and I’ll have to work on it, but it really is triggering me (that’s an understatement–I’m really emotional about it). I also told her I loved her. I also retired to my room because my own emotions–however illegitimate they might be–are real and I was really struggling with how to engage in healthy ways.
The idea that I need to withdraw because I know I can’t manage my emotions seemed to get to her. It doesn’t change her behavior though, so I’m still in my room with Yappy, noshing on cookies and writing about my parenting emotional hangups.
I know that Hope will get it together one day, not today but one day. I know that; I believe that. For now, I just need to get a handle on my expectations, my emotions and my own dreams for Hope. She’s got to find her own way, in her own time. I desperately want so much for her and I’ve done as much as I can to smooth a path for her, and that’s it. It is up to her.
So these feelings and all that underpin them are my issues. I’ve got a lot of stuff to talk to my therapist about because I can’t stand feeling this stuff. It’s not healthy, and it’s probably not fair.
Parenting is hard.