I’ve spent the last week researching how to handle undermining grandparents, how to have a conversation with grandparents about parenting, roles of grandparents, when to cut off grandparents…you name it, I’ve read it. I’ve probably read the whole site of grandparents.com and half of the rest of the interwebs. None of it gives me any advice on what to do when your parents still think that they’re the boss of you at 33 and that their parenting trumps yours.
I should preface this with the announcement that I’m a single mom. If you’re my age (33…in case you missed that above, or if you’re just me and thought you were 34 until a few weeks ago when you realized you’ve lost track of birthdays) that’s a pretty common thing. If you’re my parents age, that’s a horrific thing and it means you are a second class citizen and your status is the cause of embarassment, shame, and shunning. I’ve debated wearing a big red “SM” on my shirt at all times to show that I submit to my lesser status and I’m sorry for doing this to the world, but I’m not sure anyone would get it and I’d get really tired of explaining it means Single Mom.
I have two awesome kids. One the product of a divorce and his idiot dad signed away rights. One the product of some very very failed birth control and some intervention from God. Neither was a mistake in any way. Both of them are the loves of my life and my purpose. I have no idea what I’d do without them and they are by far the best things that I’ve ever gotten to experience in my life. Raising them is a privelige and one I take very seriously. I’m well aware that they are not a part of my life; I am a part of theirs. When I’m gone, they’ll go on with whatever I’ve left them. So that means I’m “that” mom. I go momma bear and get uber protective and I don’t compromise on what my children need and deserve if it really matters.
So that’s where I am now. I am stuck in a feud with my own parents over parenting. I feel my parenting is being undermined and disrespected. When I try to address this, I’m told “no it’s not.” Heels dig in, I’m put in my naughty corner, and expected to apologize. Except…these are MY kids and I’m raising them. If you want to have a giant grandpa hissy fit and stomp your feet and yell in my face that I (yes me, the mother of these two kids) is undermining your parenting by daring to stick up for myself, something is seriously wrong with you. If you cannot hear your adult child or minimally humor her when she tries to have an adult converstation multiple times about how your grandparenting is hurting her parenting and subsequently her children, then when she ultimately explodes the next time it comes up and she tries (again) to talk to you about it stop acting so damn surprised and shocked at her “horrible” behavior. At some point, you give up your role as parent and realize that while your child will always want you around…they do reach an age where they either see you as a helper or a hinderance. They may need help with certain things, like I have with money, but it shouldn’t equate to them owing you more than gratitude and eventual repayment.
I am the perpetual black sheep of the family. I have been since the tender age of 11 when I first told my parents that I hated them and stopped being that “cute little girl” they loved so much. I’ve never lived it down. I also can’t seem to live down the fact that my opinions are often very different from that of my parents. I’ve been therapied to death. I’ve been “you’re the problem” ‘d to death. Thankfully, it didn’t drown my apparently incredibly stubborn and resilient spirit. I’m very well aware that a child should not be blamed for such things, grudges held towards them are completely inappropriate, and rarely, if ever, is one person always the whole problem. It would be lovely to be able to point the finger and cast of all the blame on someone who can do nothing but shoulder it but it is simply not realistic. And so…I continue my black sheep ways because really, at this point, there’s not much I can do . Certainly not at the age of 33 when my role as an adult is still non-existant in the eyes of my parents. Given the fact that I have never been a drinker, a smoker, an alcoholic, or ever used recreational drugs, and I managed to complete LPN school with one child, and now parent two kids full time while being a nurse, I don’t think my ways are so bad. My kids are the kind who make other people hold their hands while they say grace and hug their friends and tell them they love them when they say goodbye at play dates. Scary stuff, right? If never having enough money, having a perpetually messy and cluttered house, and being addicted to pinterest/my sewing machine/craft stores are crimes, I’m certainly guilty. And obviously kids who say grace and hand out love are being raised wrong. Baaaaaaaaaaaaa baaaaaaaaaaa, man. And I’m not married. The horror!
Anywho…tonight was the big fall out. I’ve had a horrifically stressfull week, which I did not make a secret. It was one big poop storm (literally, since my upstairs toilet had been broken for two weeks and I’d been splashed multiple times with human excrement while plunging) that was showing no sign of letting up. Despite that, I attempted a few times to bring up parenting with my mom, especially since my son was suspended last week. I had enlisted my mom to stay with him for his two suspension days. I thought “suspended for fighting” and “not allowed on school grounds or charges will be pressed against him” were clear enough but somehow on day two he had a really flipping fantastic day. Ask him. I did. He played with bubbles outside, he played with lego, had mac n cheese for lunch, and to top off all the fun he had an ice cream cone. And he knows darn well had he been home with me he would have scrubbed the dirt off the patio all day, eaten vegetables, and that had I known what was going on, I would have been angry. I WAS angry. And when I called my mom to politely ask if he had really been given ice cream on a suspension day, I was told that I “should have been more specific if I didn’t want him to have ice cream.” She then explained that they’d had a talk and he was very sorry and knew what he did was wrong.
First of all, my 9 year old is a great kid. He has a big heart, he is generous with love, has good manners, and is super creative and inventive. He’s also a master manipulator. He knows darn well if he bats his piercing blue eyes, shakes his shimmering ginger locks, and says “I’m so sorry, I know I was wrong. Mom is just so mean and she doesn’t listen to me.” Grandma will cave like a card pyramid in the wind. He knows she won’t pick up the phone and call me. And he knows that once he gets his way, I can’t change it because by the time I find out it’ll be too late. The manipulator is starting to outweigh the well-mannered, loving kid and really become a problem. I mean…he just got suspended for fanamana sake (replacement words!). For kicking a kid in the balls and instigating a fight that involved him, the kid with the now-sore balls, and another kid who got punched while trying to break them up. And my kid was the one burping and farting all the way to the principal’s office. *High five to my face*
Right now, I fully believe that if we are a unified front, and if there are clear rules and consequences and expectations, that this is going to be a one-time, maaaaybe two time thing. However, I am not naieve. I know that it will take work to undo his sense of entitlement, to earn back my role as the authoritarian, and to gain his respect. It takes very little right now to do more damage, and a lot to gain a bit of ground. So when my mom says “I’m not undermining your parenting! I’d never do that!” I wanna say “for realz?” and whip my head around with my eyes popping out of my head. But that would be inappropriate. So I researched. And reasearched. And attempted. And failed. And tonight totally blew up and lost my temper.
While we were supposed to be enjoying a relaxing glass of wine, my dad asked how Luke was doing after his suspension. I said great, but he didn’t really realize he was being punished. Mom immediately repeated her stance made clear earlier in the week. I tried to talk, and when shut down again…lost it. I stormed off the porch and told my kids we were leaving. I got Ella in the car, and while getting Luke my dad jumped in. As usual. I am, after all, the horrible daughter who needs to be put in her place and shut down. I’m sorry, no; not at the expense of my kids. I’ll apologize for a lot of things. I do, all the fluffing time, even when I disagree with it and it curls my toes to do so. I am not above sucking it up and saying sorry. But if it shows my child that, once again, mommy is wrong and grandma and grandpa are the boss of mommy and that mommy has to say sorry but they don’t…no. I will not. I don’t care if it makes our relationship worse. At some point, this is going to be how my kids learn to parent. And if, when they are 33 with small children, I’m jumping at them like a rabid monkey, yelling that THEY are undermining MY parenting, ….uhhhh please kick me in my lady balls. Hard. Because if I’m THAT parent…I need both the ball smack and a spanking for putting my kids in that submissive, horrible position, and for not properly learning to say I’m sorry.
Here is what I want my kids to know: there are rules and expectations in my home. These rules and expectations don’t dissapate as soon as I’m out of the room or even out of the house. They will be upheld by whoever is caring for them. There are consequences for actions. They apply to them wherever they are and will be enforced. These are my kids, this is how I’m raising them. They aren’t puppies, their people. The only people that I’ve been entrusted with growing. If my child suddenly crosses his arms and goes “hu-rump” and turns his back on me when I ask him to do something in a certain person’s presence, this is indicative to me that he knows he doesn’t have to because of said presence. That is a problem. I will have to work harder to fix said behavior, but I will. What happens now lays the foundation for what happens later. Having to sit at home and not bail him out when he gets arrested, because he learned that consequences were only a threat, is not something I want to face. If my daughter loses her job later on because she just doesn’t feel like listening to her boss….well it won’t be me who reinforced that kind behavior.
And so, here I am. Venting on my old blog because being seen as an adult deserving of a respect in my parent’s eyes remains an impossible feat. Praying that I don’t have to figure out life without them, because when we are on the same page they are really great for my kids. And realizing that if I do have to minimize contact with them, that my children deserve a mom who doesn’t back down from what she believes in and will go to any lengths to protect them and give them a good future.