My first son and I have something very in common. We write our best articles when we feel passionate about something, especially if that something hits us in our emotions. Yep. We’re emotional beings and occasionally another being will hit our emotional nerve and cause us to sort things out until we feel we sufficiently understand them or can at least put it behind us.
(If you’d like to see his writings about refugees and his newest adventure in Uganda working with communities go to AndrewFrania.com. You will be blessed.)
So, if you’ve gotten this far and plan to continue reading, I’ll get specific and to the point.
Yesterday I spent time with and/or talked to 9 of my 15 children. I know! That’s pretty cool in itself. I could have even reached 10 but one of them hasn’t texted me back yet.
Let’s break it down and then I’ll address my topic.
(1) One of my adult kids just spent 2 days attacking me via text. Blindsided me actually. Out of the blue. I still have no idea why. It just happened. One minute I was holding my new grandson for the first time while out of town visiting him and his family and the next I was looking down at a text that totally obliterated my “new grammie feeling.”
For just a moment. A millisecond actually. I chose to compartmentalize that moment and willed myself to take myself back to that moment of bliss, blocking the cruel punch to my grammie bubble.
It’s something I’m learning and am getting pretty good at. Most of the time. For the most part. OK, sometimes I’m able to do it.
After our “grammie meeting new baby” trip was over, I questioned the texter as to the why of the attack and it just spiraled to an all out “beat up mom for no reason” texting extravaganza. I decided it was going nowhere, so I asked my DH to handle it for me. He’s such a good doobie. I seldom ask him to step in, but I was getting nowhere and just wanted it to stop. It was ruining my day and just adding to the mound of stress I already had been battling.
It continued into the next day – one text after another. This time it was at work and I needed to focus on my job, not this ranting from the abyss. I warned that it must stop and gave my ultimatum: be kind and respectful or I would block any communication using that handy, “block caller” check box. I’ve never done it before. But sometimes “ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.”
Are you like me? Do you check your texts in between your busy moments to see what’s going on in your little world and then get a sick, heart turning upside down, kinda feeling when you read something negative? What if you kept getting negative, mean or spiteful messages every time you looked at your phone for two days straight?
How long do you let it go on? Do you thrive on derision? I don’t.
I am happy to help someone in trouble, lift someone up that’s down. I thrive on meeting needs and encouraging others. But sometimes you just can’t help. Sometimes people are just hell-bent on destroying others because they themselves are unhappy. I don’t get it, but it does happen. That is the case here. I came to realize that whenever something negative or hurtful or disappointing happens to this individual, they immediately text and dump on me. Most of the time I can take it. Most of the time I can talk them through it and find out what happened and help them navigate their way through it.
But this time it was different. I was their emotional punching bag. Right. Mom always loves you. You can do whatever you want to her and she will always love you. Well, yes, this is true. BUT…
This time it was different because no reasoning worked. No questions were answered as to why the attack. There was no foundation for the spewed hatred being typed into words via text. The rant just kept coming. All day. All night. The next morning. So I blocked said attacker. I warned. It continued. I blocked. But that’s not the end of the story. It yet has to play out.
Now let me tell you what happened after that moment when the attack stopped (on my end, probably not on their end). But I couldn’t hear it because I checked that little box, “block caller.” Sometimes you just have to remove yourself from the path of destruction for your own safety.
But it gets better. At least it did for me. I mentioned I talked to 8 more of my kids that day. I suppose I am more blessed than others because when one hurts me, I still have 14 others that I can look to. And good percentage of those 14 are kind and loving toward me, consistently.
So here is the break down of the other 8.
(2) One called me from Uganda, East Africa in the middle of his busy work day to encourage me when he found out I was having a hard day.
(3) Another joked with me and shared her children – hugs from grandkids cannot be adequately described. A (4, 5) couple of others texted and messaged me – always upbeat and respectful no matter what is going on in their lives. The every day chatting with some of my kids provides a good dose of sanity and grounding, reminding me they do not live in the drama zone nor do they want to drag me into it. Refreshing.
(6) Another called wanting details on a car accident one of our other kids had been in – I realized I hadn’t called her to let her know. She could have been angry but she wasn’t! Hmmm. That is the standard families should hold to. Graciousness. A little found commodity in many families. Graciousness was what I needed – it was granted to me even when I was negligent by my lack of communication. And she didn’t even yell at me! No nasty texts. Only concern for her brother.
(7) Another called about the car accident, wanting to know how he could help.
(8) Another messaged me thanking me for a tiny gift I’d given him.
(9) One took me to dinner and shopping. Retail therapy. It works! (Maybe I shouldn’t have said that out loud!)
Of course I have to add my wonderful DH as always was, well, wonderful.
So here is my many faceted parenting tip #45.
- You are not a punching bag. If your adult kids can’t be kind and respectful, walk away. Yes, you should try to help. Offer advice. Do what you can to alleviate suffering and meet needs. But if they are just mad and wanting to take it out on you because they think you are “safe,” then cause them to think again. Will you miss them if they don’t make it right? Yes. But you will not miss being abused.
- Even if your kids are mentally disabled, emotionally scarred, or generally just clueless, that doesn’t mean they are incapable of being respectful and polite. Put up your boundaries. If they try to beat you up, taking their frustrations out on you, don’t let them do it! Draw your line and if they cross it, walk away. Tell them you love them no matter what, but that you will not let them abuse you.
- I’m going to say it again. Moms are not punching bags. We are soft and breakable. We are not super human. We can be hurt. We have our own lives to manage and we are not responsible for managing our adult children’s lives. They must figure that out themselves. If anything, once they are adults, THEY SHOULD BE TAKING CARE OF US. We did our deal. For years we put them first, met their needs, taught them, educated them, taught them about spiritual things, modeled adulthood and set limits, taught them respectfulness, how to work hard…the list goes on. There is a time when that stops and you just become “mom” the one who they respect and care for. It’s called adulthood. If they can’t manage to do that, then look to those who do. Revel in their love and respect and let go of those who don’t.
- Realize they may never come back if you make them stop hurting you. They may walk away because of some misguided accusation in their head that tells them they can’t count on you or that you don’t love them or some nonsense like that. They might choose to do something stupid that will damage them for life. Realize it’s not you, it’s them. Realize you cannot control them or their messed up thinking process. Of course the “*” to that is to assume you were not the cause of their problem. If you are, then fix it. In this case the attack was unwarranted and I have not discovered the root cause, though I tried. But honestly, it doesn’t matter.
- The real root cause of such abuse is much deeper than what set the attack in motion. The root cause can only be fixed by God, the healer of all pain and hurt, the one who can spot a deep dark pit that harbors all the hate and anger. You can’t do it. You can’t fix whatever is wrong with them. So stop taking that on. This is a situation where the, “Let go and let God” comes into play. You cannot and are not obligated to fix everything and everyone who is broken. This especially applies to adoptive parents. You’ve done your best (hopefully) to raise them to be hard working, responsible adults with a conscience and a loving heart, ready and willing to serve God and their fellow man. They are adults now. They must choose to live right. Your relationship should and will change. Let it.
- They are not your peers. If your adult children try to treat you as a peer, don’t allow it. You are the parent and they should respect and honor you. Period.
This was a long one. No pictures. No fancy doo-dads, quips or quotes. Just reality. Let me know your thoughts. But only if you are kind. I’ve had a rough week and it’s only Wednesday.