July 30, 2009


not only am I reaching
I'm grasping at straws
our son continues to prove himself as a child who doesn't want to be parented
when you're a parent who has done nothing but parent him for the past seventeen years
this is like being told not to breathe any longer
we've set rules and limitations only to watch them
be kicked around
stomped on
set on fire
we've tried to see things his way
which temporarily blinded us
we've let him the test the waters
he doesn't seem able to float long without being thrown a life preserver
so I sit here wondering if I should be done saving him all the time
and let him spit water out of his mouth when he goes a little bit too deep
chokes and coughs
if I should actually start un-parenting him even more than I have been
in trying to help him grow
in hopes of making him realize that when he stumbles
he's far from the adult he thinks he is
as I sat here thinking about all of this
my thoughts made me claustrophobic
I had to leave the house for a bit
so with my camera bag packed
I took off
even though the skies were still grey from
the perfectly hung rain we'd had all morning
as soon as I got to my destination
just a few miles down the road
the skies opened up again and flooded my entire being with rain drops heavy enough to knock a small child to the ground
which forced me back in my car where I sat and watched the raindrops splatter across my windshield like cookie dough being dropped from a spoon onto a cookie sheet
I put my head back
reminded myself that there could be so many worse things happening in my life right now
besides an unruly teen that has aged me terribly this summer
then I thought nope
there's not
at least right now there's not
this is bad
this is not good
this is the worse thing I've dealt with as a parent
it sucks
so I'm reaching and looking and searching and praying for answers
I'm hanging onto the edge of that parenting pool that is so easy to drown in
with every ounce of strength I have
I'm competitive
this is the game of life
at least it's the game of my life
I refuse to put the game board back in it's box and tuck it on the top shelf of the closet only to be brought out again when friends come to visit
this game board is front and center
I just wish we weren't playing it so miserably right now


  1. wow - harsh anonymous...quit being so judgmental, please. sometimes the best thing we can do is take a small break in hostilities so you can come back to the table and discuss things rationally.

    now...sorry, that comment got my back up.

    i'm not a parent - i've seen the struggles that my sister goes through with her children and my brother goes through with a strong-willed child. yes, i do believe that sometimes we have to let children fail to so they can learn how to pick themselves back up. this is my opinion about the ills of the current youth of society that are so angry and entitled. i think for a couple of generations now we have done and done and done for our children until they think it is that easy to fly without a net...and cry when they crash. but this is not helping you is it?

    only you know what you are going through, and i'm sure it's even more difficult with a long distant parent too. how to walk that delicate line of letting the son be a man but letting him know he has a support system too. all i can offer is hugs and a shoulder. and then maybe counseling for both of you? him to discuss his fears, wishes, dreams and to help learn structure on how to reach them. you to help walk that line and support for you when needed.

    of course, i love counseling - i think of it in the most positive way.

  2. Oh Beth, I feel for you. Our 14 year old can be extrememly difficult at times, and I know how difficult and heart-wrenching it is. How much doubt a parent feels about their parenting skills and wished they were better even though they are doing the best they can. But, through your posts, I have learned that you are a good person, and that goodness is passed on to your children, even if its hard to see at the moment. I know, its easy to say, not so easy to live with in the moment, and if blogging helps spit out some of the emotional weight, then you do it.
    Thinking of you today with love,

  3. Beth, it will get better. As a rebellious child that thought she knew everything, it did not take me long to realize that the older I got the smarter my parents were. When I was in grade 12 I kept saying as soon as I am done school I am moving out! Blah, Blah. When I left I was phoning home everyday collect no less...one day my Mom told the operator she would not accept the charges. It was costing money they did not have. I moved home the next day. Grew up a bit. I had gotten so homesick...I know as a teenager I did not like being told what to do...I grew out of that I think....Lordy a big hug, I wish I could help!

  4. I wish you would have left that comment from anonymous; I'd be happy to take THAT b.s. on. Then again, maybe the person behind the anonymity is going thru some shit I can't imagine ... or isn't familiar with the history of your blog/posts enough to realize how deeply you've cared about and worked with and agonized over this issue.

    my 18 year old? your boy? "Pete & Repeat", even though I don't know the details of your son's behaviors ... my reactions over the last year have been the same, run the same roller coaster, sunk me into some big damn pits, had me jumping in my car at 2 am to try to escape the tension and THINK THINK THINK; my kid's behavior is escalating; the deliberate cruelty to me (verbal) is going to land him on his ass on the OPPOSITE (out)side of my door to the house pretty soon, I swear (hurt Mom voice, probably idle threat). I wrote a journal entry 3 days ago I should freakin' post ... about this parenting thing, particularly about parenting men-children ...

    anyway, I keep meaning to find a book on what exactly 'tough love' is and how to effect it because I'm there.

    I think taking breaks to clear your head and take pictures and try to gain a fresh perspective and maybe to pray a little are a WAY better choice than killing your kid, wish they seem determined to push you into sometimes ...

  5. Holy cow, that took my breath away. I'm still a parent to little ones (9 and 7) and am not looking forward to those days to come in the future.

    I can tell you ARE a great parent. Keep up your good, hard work. Sometimes, I do believe, we have to let go of the ones we love the best.

  6. It must be agonizing to hope that one you love this much will remain alive through his terrible choices long enough to come out on the other side to wisdom and insight.

    And, I have no words to add here other than to tell you I understand that you are anguished, angry, and fearful.

    If I can help? I will be there for you.

  7. Hi Beth,
    So sorry its been rough. You seem like an awesome mom and lady. Keep up the good work and stay strong! I am not looking forward to going through that with my boys!
    Sending hugs and prayers your way!

  8. Beth, I have always said that in raising one son and three daughters, my son has made me "grow" the most. Challenges, yes, many, but he really made me THINK about issues. It was hard - but the fact that we always did communicate helped. He wouldn't just tell me what I wanted to hear ... and his truth was often very hard to hear. So learning to advise and then let him deal with his choices is what I call tough love and as long as no physical harm was apparent I struggled to do it. Still, here we are years later and he is 30, fine and healthy, but I am still dwelling on the choices I made in those parenting years and wondering if he wishes I had done it differently. You've made me decide to have that conversation with him and if I can come away with any insights I think might help you, I will share them for sure. It is a hard place to be, I know. I hope you'll continue to feel free to spill it out to all those who can let you lean on them or dry a tear or two. Your goodness has been easy to see and I know he has a bunch of it deep down inside too ... he's just not in a place to share that with his parents right now.

  9. Beth,

    I have no idea what you are going through, I just want to tell you that I love you and I am thinking of you.


  10. i am not there yet in parenting experience - only enduring gray hair from potty training refusal...but i did want to say that you are in my thoughts and heart. i can only imagine how difficult this must feel. take good care, beth. xx s

  11. Beth, I can only speak from my own experince at that age. I thought I knew it all, and now nearing thirty, I realised my dad was always right and I most certainly was wrong. You are a amazing parent, because you care. I am so sorry that you are being put through this as it is soul distroying. Your love will shine though on him yet.Keep going.I wish I could help more, and I am sorry that someone has written a comment to pour more darkness in your thoughts, obviously a coward being annonemous. (cant spell)but thinking hugs for you.....Claire.

  12. You're spying on me, yes? Did you hear me screaming just last week about the same thing? And how I declared emphatically that I would not be defeated at the one thing of which I've devoted myself, tirelessly and entirely? Because, I hear you loud and clear. Our son is seventeen and this has by far been the biggest challenge since natural childbirth!I hope, like natural childbirth,it ends in a humorous survival story that I will be proud to tell ad nauseam. (Hugs)

  13. Sorry to hear you got a crummy comment....

    Like Cam said, I haven't a clue what you must be going through...my oldest is only 6 1/2!

    Offering only comfort and a supportive *ear*...


  14. beth your words are so tender and tough to read ..it is very hard...teenage years are so much more of a challenge than younger years but you never really understand until you are standing knee deep in the "not so grown up yet think they are " phase...my daughters are 17 and 21 and oh the the tales I could share but will just nod and affirm you for trying to do the best you can one step at a time...blessings my friend..elk

  15. I read this nodding my head, knowing what you're going through and at the same time not knowing... each of us experience our children's growing pains differently, and yet the anguish is the same, yes? The caring, the unknowing if the steps we are taking are the right ones.

    My daughter will be 18 this year, and I have aged tremendously these last two summers. She is now my loving girl again, but for a while, it was "hey! whose this?" (Though I do not kid myself that there are still a LOT more bumps and bruises along the way.)

    I've had a chance to peek at your archives (nosy, nosy, me!) and I see an amazing woman, who will get her and her son through this.


  16. gawd beth, were you channeling me today? i have about had it with my 26 year old today..we have a joint checking account cuz she has managed to f* up her creditability with the bank and this past mont, all the debits have been restaurant, fast food, gas and bars...no bills paid..i am just ready to puke! ugh!! AND SHE TELLS ME SHE HAS EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL..really what about your medical bills from various doctors and hospitals for your kidney stones that havent been paid cuz you dont have medical insurance? need i go on...ugh!! children they are a life sentence.....

  17. Instead of giving you comfort and suggestions to help with parenting, I sit here worried that one day I will be thinking the same things. My daughter is only 13 and is still sweet and loving, but I see the change that comes with the territory of parenting a teen. They want to be independent; they want to be adult.... Yet, they aren't.

    I know someone who has given in to a 16 or 17-year-old daughter for several years because it could be "worse." I'm afraid that once they get their way, they continue to push and push to get more.

    I also know someone who went through rough times with her children, only to have them come 'round again when they got in the 20s.

    Take care.... and hold on for the ride.


  18. thinking of you BETH...

    sometimes don't you wish our children came with handbooks. now what do I do now when they act like this? my children are much younger, but believe me they test me and sometimes I can handle it and sometimes I can't.

    hang in there!

    I will be thinking of you.


  19. beth-my kids are small, so i haven't been there yet. my aunt is going through something similar, though. their son dropped out of high school, got arrested and is living at home without a job now. there are so many levels to his behavior that she is constantly frustrated, and without insight on what to do. like her, i'm not here to tell you what to do. i'm a girl who wants to understand God, so i'm going to put this into these terms, believing that God is love and there is a lot we can learn from that. when i was growing up, ed (who is my father) told me that parents love their kids in the way that God loves us. To put this in context, God created us, gave us life, gave us opportunities and choices. i think that the thing i've learned from the Bible is that time and again, we have turned away from God. we've "disrespected" him for lack of better terms...but the beauty about ed's analogy is that God loves us, he continues to be there for us with opportunities and guidance, sacrifice and forgiveness. i hope that as i and my kids get older, i can do that too. without my little analogy here...in how i think my aunt and you have been towards your sons (loving the boys like God loves us), sometimes (maybe all the time) it takes us a while to understand what's in front of us-to understand what love is. i know that's something that i've had to grow into...still not fully understanding it, but realizing that i feel it. i understand, just like i'm sure you do, that when you love someone, you understand who they are, both the good and the bad and continue to bring out the good. i know who i was as a teenager and how many people i turned away. but i now know that it was those adults, the ones who were soft and the ones who stuck to their guns who brought out the good in me today. (http://orangesalad.blogspot.com/2009/05/mothers-day-05.html...this is not the same aunt i was referring to earlier) i think the best thing that they did for me was they stuck to being themselves...they stuck to their conviction and it was my choice to accept it. you stick to you, what you KNOW is right. that's what's going to make a difference to him when he gets older.

  20. there must be something running through the water that only affects teenagers lately. i cannot even begin to relate to where you are coming from as a parent (as i have no children of my own)... but as an older sister dealing with a younger sister who seems to be lost without realizing it... i can begin to understand the pain and tears it brings on everyone in the family. the frustration from what seems like something that should just be fixed, shouldn't be broken...

    my thoughts are with you and your family... and as far as any other thoughts that aren't understanding, empathetic, or supportive, then toss those out for sure. you don't have any more room on your plate for another person's judgments. this is your space. these are your thoughts.

  21. As they say, "This too, shall pass." What an emotional day for you, and I love what you said about the rain drops being like cookie dough plopped onto a cookie sheet. Stand back to gain more perspective and you will see that this situation has rewarded you with some wonderful writing (if nothing else?) He will be 18 in a year, and an adult. You could get a running start on "letting go". He will be whom he will be and you've got to let it be. Concentrate on your own strength and you will be happily surprised by what ensues.

  22. Beth, I just came across your blog recently and don't "know" you but I wanted to say hello and "hang in there" after reading your post. I have 3 grown children and remember well the sleepless nights, the worry and the anquish of feeling completely helpless.

    It was one of my daughters who was the source of my tears rather than my son, and she has since turned out to be a wise, strong and compasionate woman. My message is just that there is hope, there is always hope...that he will come through this confused time in his life, having learned much from it.

    And too, for you to do whatever you need to do to look after yourself...nourish YOU when there's nothing else you can do.


  23. I just listen to what you and Toni say about your boys and hope that I'll be able to turn to your wisdom when my little man gets to that age. All this pain and anguish will turn into wisdom and clarity and relief one day, but you won't see it turning until it's done.
    Don't we feel this at so many stages of parenting: how do I do this? how do I get this right?
    I know, at those times, I'm just really glad of the older, wiser women in my life ~ to give me some reassurance that we'll all get through this in one piece.

  24. Beth, how I wish that I could give you advice that would help your son but after two years of struggles with my own teenage son--struggles that took the breath from my lungs and made my heart feel that it was indeed broken--weekends when I could not stop crying--times that I was able to write about in my blog and times that that I couldn't make my fingers move enough to write--all I can say is I'm praying for you and thinking of you. One thing that I told myself over and over again--it was somewhat comforting but not entirely--if he can just not kill himself with this foolishness I know he will be alright on the other side. Remember not to blame yourself and don't let your husband feel guilty about his new job--you are great parents and your son is trying to find his own place in the universe--be consistent, be loving and take care of yourself. Welcome to the world of good parents whose kids have taught us what good parenting is. BTW, since my son's graduation and move--I've seen the effects of my rapid aging diminish :-)

  25. I just wanted you to know I am thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way. I am sorry you are going through this.

  26. Beth I am just wondering if anyone else is having trouble reading Fidays post. I click on it and keeps me coming back here. Just letting you know. Maybe its a glitch at my end. Thinking of you. Take care. I did write a previous post.

  27. Hi Beth,

    I'm feeling for you now as you are dealing with your son again. We are always on the same page with out teenage sons. This is one of the most difficult times in life where we are told to stop mothering them and let them find out for themselves how to deal with life. The problem with that advice is our sons suffer too much. My 18 year old who recently graduated high school just went to the doctor after collapsing yesterday morning. He had lots of systems of the H1N1, so they tested him for the flu - negative, thankfully.

    What was really going on was all the same things we fight about all the time - eat (good food), drink lots (not energy drinks), rest, don't run yourself ragged to the point of exhaustion. He collapsed because he will not take care of his body, just like we have been telling him, only this time it involves the vasovagal nerve and his body knocked him down on an automatic reflex.

    So we are right back to the point you listed here in your blog. Do we save him and fight all the time, or do we let him figure it out for himself and watch him collapse. I have no answers, just walking the road with you everyday.

    Hugs from NC - Teresa

  28. Oh, this makes me worrisome for our nine yr. old son's teenage years!?! The teen years are the worst years. I remember you writing something similiar before in regards to your son and am so sorry you're still in the same boat with him. But 17 shall pass. And 18. And one day he'll realize you're not his worst enemy. You can trust that, Beth. Keep your chin up and I hope the rest of your summer vacation with him pans out to be happier.

  29. AnonymousJuly 31, 2009

    As I read over the comments here, I realize that there are many that share your angst, me as well. Don't let one ugly comment get you down. So many things happen in our lives that make us stronger, wiser, but nothing tests our mettle quite like raising a teenager. It's important and necessary to keep a clear head and strong heart, and if you have to walk away sometimes in order to center yourself, you are only helping, not hurting. You do what you gotta do, girl.

  30. One day at a time...take a deep breath (or 20) and soon you will find the right path. So sorry you are going through this tough time. Sending you lot's of prayers of strength.

  31. I am glad that I didn't see whatever the ugly person posted. You have written such a heartfelt post and I really feel for everything you and John are going through. I really believe it will all turn out fine some day (soon, oh, I hope!?) as I am confident you have done the *best* you can. And that is all any of us can do. And all that any child could hope for, that his parents love him and have done their best. I know Jack knows that at some level. And I pray you will find peace in your relationship with him very very soon.
    Hugs darlin'.

  32. Oh Beth- this stuff is NEVER easy! I think I was a horrible teen to my parents and I totally deserve what mine is dishing out, but it is so hard! Nothing is worse than loving someone so hard it hurts and having them disregard what you stand for. I am in total control of teens all day long at school, but can be reduced to a yelling blithering idiot in seconds at home. I don't get it. Maybe we are not supposed to...hopefully we will grow out of it- lol as they supposedly do. Know you are NOT alone in this- not that it really makes it any easier with what you are going through, but others are going through the same thing. Trust yourself and your actions!!!

  33. Beth, this too shall pass. My son is almost 26 and I remember the nights I did not think he would live past 19. I promise, it gets better....but hold on...it might get worse before it gets better.....you are a good parent. period. ~ hold on, hold onto yourself, for this is gonna hurt like hell~ SaraMcLachlan

  34. Hi friend, thanks for sharing, opening up to us. When I saw the picture of the small branch first thing come to my mind is you have to nurture it and give it time to grow stronger, bigger. With all the love you and your husband put into your kid he will turn out eventually in a fine young man. I'm so sure of that. Love can only do good. It just seems he needs to be carried a little longer within his live. Keep opening up your heart for him. I wish all the three of you the best. Big big hugs Dagmar

  35. Thinking of you.
    This too shall pass.

  36. Boy, I missed a lot while I was gone -- this one must have gone below the fold when I checked in. I'm not sure all of what you're going through, but I have something of an idea, having been through the teenage boy period, testing his limits, wanting to be free and not acting responsible enough to go there. All I can say is that it got better for us. Those tail end of high school years were rugged, but he did get through it and now has turned into a most remarkably good kid. (A little self-centered at times, but maybe they all are!). It's hanging in there, doing your best, breathing and trusting that if you do your best, it will improve. I'm so sorry John isn't at home to be there with you during this, but I know that he's a great source of support. That is, after all, what phones are for! Many hugs!


**I love reading the comments you leave, as they make me feel like we're sitting in my kitchen, having a cup of tea, discussing life and wondering where all the time has gone ...beth