mardi, septembre 03, 2013

Late summer daze

To say that this has been a tough afternoon would be an understatement.

It actually started last night.  We all went out to dinner as a family -- the four of us, the ex, me, and the kids. We do that on special occasions. This was a delayed birthday party for Mr. C., and he chose a nice French restaurant.

The two children were doing well - competing with each other, talking a mile a minute, ordering expensive desserts.

But it became very clear to me, has been becoming clearer, that when it comes to her life, I'm on the outside looking in. Most of the decisions are made by her and her dad, and sometimes I'm invited in - not to the choice, but to the bread and circus around it. .

I'm not going to pass blame. Blame is such a loser's game, because, ultimately, we all share part of it. Actually, it's one of those things that are better shared, because then the solution can be a collaboration, too.

Reflecting on how distant she and I have become over the years made for a difficult morning.  This problem is so obdurate, and has so many layers, that sometimes it feels like I am imprisoned by one of those horror movie trees, come to life in a torrential downpour. I push, and push, and can't escape the tendrils of the past.

But I wasn't done with gloomy reflection.  The afternoon featured an email, in response to an inquiring one from me, from a gentlemen who cast me as a monster mom, vengeful and self-righteous.

I was stunned  by his anger -- directed at someone who was a relative stranger. Oh, he was very sure he knew me - and that I was dangerous.

I wonder if my friends, coworkers and even acquaintances would recognize the caricature he drew.

In what turned out to be an unwise bout of confession, I had mentioned some of the measures I'd taken when my daughter was in high school  and as she moved on to college (she had already been, let's say, flirting with danger).  On those he judged me, found me wanting, put me in the dock, and sentenced me.

He didn't know the context. He wasn't informed about the years of effort, strategy, support and encouragement.  I should not have shared so much without more of  a friendship -- my bad.

Online dialogue encourages a level of disclosure that not only encourages people to take liberties, but to assume that they know someone after a few discussions. And I'm sure that some of what I shared seemed totally outrageous to him.

Thankfully, I had just wrapped up a talk with a former professor who told me that, in my daughter's case, the actions I took might have saved her from much worse later on.  Thankfully also, I'm done with my email friend -- we're both better for it.

I can't deny his cutting, derogatory comments hurt.  They hurt badly. But think how much worse they would have been if we were in a relationship?  We were both spared.

But the afternoon wasn't over, yet.  Next came an angry, accusatory email from my daughter, telling me I'd spoiled her vacation plans with her boyfriend. The only problem? I hadn't had anything to do with her plans.

We figured it out -- it was her brother who was the villain, not her mom. Not this time. Apologies all around from West Chester.

It was one very tough day. In its undertow, I'm exhausted, discouraged and sad.

But hopefully, tomorrow will be a time of refreshment, enabling me to remember all of the blessings in my life -- and find a thicker skin to ward off that which isn't a blessing.

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