Parents are just people

Turner Classic Movies showed Splendor in the Grass the 1961 classic with Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty last night. I sat down and watched the whole movie. I was riveted to the tale of two teenagers who fall in love during Roaring Twenties and advent of the Stock Market crash. The financial state of the country from riches to rags and recovery mirrored the tale of these two sweethearts.

The couple, Bud and Deanie, are faced with how the fairy tale of  love fades and how heartbreak changes them. Deanie experiences an emotional breakdown when she and Bud are no longer a couple. It is uncomfortable for her friends and parents to witness and accept. Her mother nearly breaks down when the experts say that her daughter needs professional help. Mrs Loomis can’t believe that what is troubling her daughter can’t be fixed at home.

Near the end of the film, Deanie is speaking with her psychiatrist about whether she can handle seeing her parents again. On a previous visit her mother talked incessantly abouting wanting her little girl back home again. Deanie acknowledged she was not that little girl anymore. The psychiatrist then uttered, “Parents are just people”.  And that was the phrase that hit me smack in the eye.

I am almost an empty nester.  I haven’t been able to put my thoughts into words until I saw that movie last night. My son graduated from college a week ago. His growth into adulthood has been painful for the entire family. He has struggled with every part of studying, taking tests, caring for himself, and social relationships.  But he had grown in many aspects of his academia. 

He lived in the dorms and an apartment the first two years of college and then moved back home the last two. I didn’t want to be the bitch of a mother, but I was. I set my boundaries that he needed to do basic things to be living with his parents in our house. He rarely accomplished taking a shower using the soap; he never brushed his teeth; and rarely did his laundry. He was loud and brash, playing his video games late into the night  just a door away from our bedroom. His mantra to me was, “Whatever you tell me to do I am going to do the opposite”.

He will be moving within a week to start his new job in the next state and six hours away. He hasn’t written his thank you cards and he hasn’t made a “To Do” list. He has celebrated his graduation by lounging around and doing nothing for the past week. I don’t want to be the bitchy parent anymore. I have advised him of my boundaries. I am available until Friday and he will need to make an appointment if he needs my help before leaving. I am planning on going to a hotel or to my friend’s house for the weekend while he packs up.  I am not going to be yelled at because he can’t find anything. I refuse to have the expectation of helping him when he waits until the last minute to throw everything together.

No parent wishes to see their child struggle. It is innate to want to prevent the pain.  I don’t have super powers to make everything right anymore, because my son has not practiced his coping skills. I think my son has been mad at me because I don’t want to take care of him any more. He does a lousy job of taking care of himself. My daughter told me that I have done everything to try and teach him but he didn’t want to do it.

But parents are just people. The last several months I have tried to accept my son for who he is. Hot mess and all, it has been hard for me. I asked him to accept me for who I am. I, like him, want to be respected and loved just like everyone on the planet. And children grow up and they are just people too.  Best wishes to you my son.

8 responses to “Parents are just people

  1. Hi pattyabr! I feel for you and also think you are so strong for taking a stand. You are doing the right thing, even though it is probably very difficult.
    I have just written a post about being at the other end of the spectrum with my three year old growing up.
    http://banbamama.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/letting-go/
    I really don’t want my children to forget that I am a human too.
    Good luck with the future. B.

  2. I was reminded of this quote from Gibran. I probably have blocked it from memory these past 25 years.

    Your children are not your children.

    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

    They come through you but not from you,

    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

    For they have their own thoughts.

    You may house their bodies but not their souls,

    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

    For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

    By: Kahlil Gibran

  3. I reckon six hours away will be great fro both of you. And yep, you’ll probably miss the little sh** when he’s gone. Thus is the perverseness of us ‘oomins!

  4. It sounds like you’ve done the best you could, which is what we try to do as parents. Now, it’s time for your son to get along on his own. I think it’s great that you’re anticipating issues that could come up and have made plans to not be available last-minute. Good luck to you, Patty!

    • This was such a freeing post for me. I needed to get out my feelings. I am trying to reframe my relationship with my son. It’s gonna take some practice. Amazingly, all this anguish has made me stronger and I hope it can continue.

  5. *hugs* I love the quote… I think kids grow up in their own time and in their own way and there will come a time when he will realise, like so many of us have, that what you’ve been trying to instill in him was coming from that caring place in the bottom of you heart.

    • The weekend is getting closer and I am moving from one caregiver role to another. I am flying out to see my elderly parents – all but one of my sibilings will be there. (cough, cough) Joy!

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