Parenting is the hardest job we will ever have. We’ve been told that time and time again. None of us are perfect, and those that pretend to be are full of shit. We all screw up, we all make mistakes, we all pray that we haven’t fucked something up so badly that it can never be repaired. We all have those days in which we just want to throw up our hands and scream to the heavens “I QUIT!!!”.
How do we handle this difficult journey of parenthood without completely losing our minds? We reach out to friends. We ask them for a kind ear and for some sort of guidance. All else fails, we hope that they bring over a big ass bottle that we can finish off together. Sometimes our friends don’t live close enough to share a bottle with, but knowing that a kind ear is awaiting you on the other end of the line (or in this case on the other side of your computer) is just what we need to keep moving on. To keep fighting. To reassure ourselves that we are surviving this parenting gig and that it will all turn out OK.
When a very dear friend sent me this story, I knew I needed to share it because she needs to know that she isn’t alone. That we all have lost our shit at one point (or more) on this journey. That she isn’t a terrible monster of a mother. That she will be OK. She gave me permission to share it here with the hopes that she will be offered support and love. That she may be offered suggestions that will help her during this hard time. That we can help build her up, not tear her down.
Please read her story, and feel free to leave encouraging comments below. Thank you all for your support and for being a part of this amazing village.
I am at a loss. I don’t know what has happened. I don’t know where I went wrong. I’ve tried to be an involved parent. I’ve tried to be a loving parent. I have been stern when I needed to be. I have given things that weren’t needed, but were wanted….when I felt that rewards were warranted.
I felt blessed with wonderful children. I felt loved. It all felt right. Then, things changed.
My son became a teenager and within a few months, I no longer recognized my child. What happened? I’ve gone nowhere. I’ve changed nothing. And yet, one night, after encouraging him to change his clothes because he was going to the movies with friends, I was treated to the most unbelievable behavior that I have ever seen from him. An explosion of anger that I would dare tell him what to wear. And it escalated to the point to me finally saying, “wear whatever you want. I don’t care. I was just trying to help. See if I give a shit anymore.”, leaving his room and taking a seat in the living room.
The next thing that happened forever changed me.
My son walked into the living room, with a large knife in his hand and said, “you know what, since you don’t give a shit, I will just slit my throat right here and you won’t ever have to worry about me again.” How did it go from me encouraging him to change clothes to him threatening suicide? He then turned around and went into his room. I was so terrified that I was unable to move….for 30 seconds. And then I jumped up, ran into his room, took the knife from his hand and we both sat down in the floor and cried.
I cried because I was terrified and relieved and confused and angry and everythingallatonce. He cried because he knew he upset me and that he was just so mad, he knew that was the best way to get my attention. He knew that I had a dear friend whose 13 year old son had shot himself in the head (details as to what/why and how are few and far between because it was a good kid, he was alone in the room and no one knows what happened) and how that had a profound effect on me, watching my friend go through that. My son knew of my reaction to that news, so he had a pretty good idea of how I would react to his threat.
We talked about suicide and how it was not something that you threaten people with. We talked about did he really feel like doing that? The answer was no, but that he just wanted to get my attention.
We talked about how so many kids just “wanted to get someone’s attention” with that and that the consequences were that they were dead and may not have really meant to be, but that they were. And that they left behind people with so many questions and such confusion as to what happened. I played out a scenario for him. He wanted my attention after arguing. He threatens to slit his own throat. He attempts it. He succeeds. I couldn’t save him. He dies in my arms. I am crying uncontrollably. His sister walks in the room to find me covered in his blood, him lying in my arms. And all I could do was cry that we just fussed over him having to change clothes. I didn’t know this would happen. That is how that scene would have played out. And I would never have been able to get over that I caused my son to do this, simply by having an argument with him…an argument, this time, over clothes. We talked about how nothing….NOTHING….is worth suicide. Especially not getting into argument over clothes.
We talked about how things, when we are teenagers, seem SO MUCH BIGGER than they actually are and that when you have feelings like it would be better to end it all, you need to talk to someone. He told me that he just sees so much on tv, about teenagers committing suicide over bullying and that suicide for teenagers just seems to be everywhere and that when he or his friends get upset that is what a lot of them think of first, because they hear of so many kids doing that. I couldn’t believe that this was something that he and his friends talk about, but dang if I wasn’t glad that he was sharing that with me.
We got past that point, but not without me worrying about every little fuss we had, whether or not he was thinking of suicide. I’m telling you, when your kid threatens something like that, it stays with you, permanently.
Then right around Thanksgiving, he had approached his dad and I about allowing him to have his cell phone past 9:00 PM. He pleaded his case. He felt that he should be able to keep it all night, as he was now a teenager and was responsible. We listened. After discussing it, we told him that we would extend it by one hour, but that wasn’t good enough for him. And instead of accepting what we offered, it turned into another huge argument. There was never any yelling or screaming during the negotiation of his phone, but it wasn’t going his way and he had such a defiant attitude and refused to listen to our reasoning, because it wasn’t what he wanted to hear and so it kept going on to where he looked at his dad and said, “I don’t know how you put up with that crazy, fucking bitch.” Now, let me tell you….my son has never seen me be a crazy, fucking bitch before and neither has my husband, really….until that night. I come up off my chair and got up in his face, pointing my finger and spitting while trying to coherently scream at him and I lost control.
The smirk on his face caused me to lose it and I slapped him.
And then I couldn’t stop hitting him.
Until my husband had to literally pick me up and pull me away. I have never, ever had that happen to me before, but I knew that it was there inside of me, because it was how my father was with me and I have worked so fucking hard to not be him and in a matter of seconds, I turned into him. Only it wasn’t my father…it was me. And I was devastated, because I just gave my children a memory of me, that I never wanted them to have. Ever.
My son ran into his room, I ran outside, my daughter was crying, my husband didn’t know who to go to first.
I did this to all of them.
What the hell happened? Now, I know there will be some people who say that I was 100% in the wrong. I accept that. I make no excuses for what I did. I am the adult. I should have had more control of myself. Then there are some people who will say that he deserved it because he never should have said that. Do you know what my kid said when I went into his room to apologize profusely, after calming way down, yet still crying? “Mom, I deserved that. It wasn’t your fault. Please don’t cry. You weren’t wrong. I hit you first, but in a different way.” Then I cried even harder, because, yes, he hit first, verbally, but I still had no right to that reaction. No right. And here we are, two months later…well, almost….and we still fuss and I still feel like I have no idea where my sweet, young, loving boy went.
I wonder will I ever get him back.
I wonder how much damage I have done from that one night.
I wonder how I got here with him.
I see news reports about a local 17-year-old boy, killing his dad and sister, because he felt like he was abused and although, I don’t know the background of that story, I wonder, Oh god….could that happen to me? Every parent thinks that they are doing a good job raising their kids. No parent thinks that they are raising one that does stuff like that. And yet, they did. And I wonder is that a possibility with mine? Or is it all just hormones and normal teenage angst?
Are we going to be okay?
And I pray that we are.
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