Hey Sweet Lady!
I love you so very, Very VERY much!
My heart was sad to think that you felt you needed to explain your actions to me but in a sense I loved it cuz that says you care about what I think…
Kids. Ya gotta love em. It’s just that SOME days, we can’t exactly figure out why!!!
And, nope, nope, nope, whatever you need to do for YOU is exactly what needs to happen. And, yes, I KNOW it’s not easy being an adult around our kids, but, in the end, when we [FINALLY!] stand up for ourselves and become willing to take care of ourselves, it somehow gives our kids permission to do the same.
A few weeks ago, my grandson Daniel called. He was having a track meet on Saturday if Gramma wanted to come. I’ll let you know Daniel, thanks for callin! So, I hung up the phone with him and said to Lee, Hey, Daniel’s got a track meet in Ft Myers on Saturday morning, wanna go? And [holy crap!] he said sure, why not. I thought, Hey! This is So Great that he’d go with me…
Okie dokie pokie. So, along comes Saturday morning and there’s no way on God’s Green Earth that GRAMMA wants to get up EARLY, leave the house by 7 ON A SATURDAY and spend the day in the hot sun screaming my head off for DanielMarie. So, Here Comes The Guilt… Dear God, is it ok if I don’t go to Ft Myers? Yes. YES! It’s OK for me NOT to go to Ft Myers??? Do you want to? Well, no, actually, I honest to God don’t. Well then, don’t. But God, what about Daniel? And his mom? I haven’t seen them in so long… Do you want to go? I absolutely Do Not want to go. Then don’t. But God [don’t ya just love it that you can ‘But God!’ all over the place!!!] But God… what about the GUILT!!! Lis, it would be far better for you to give your daughter and your grandson examples of Gramma taking care of herself rather than to drag you and Lee somewhere neither of you really want to go to spend hours in the hot sun not taking care of yourselves. Hey! That’s a Great Idea! Thought you’d like it. I should call Mindy then? … No. No? What do you mean no! She’ll spend the entire morning looking over her shoulder waiting for me to show up… [Silence.] Ok. How about I ask You, that if it’s ok, if Mindy calls me later on and I’ll be able to tell her that we’re not coming after all? That would be fine.
And sure enough, Mindy called about 11 and admitted that she’d been watching for me for two hours. I was able to be all excited cuz I gave her everything God had given me earlier that morning and she was thrilled to have an example of Mom taking care of herself, and that Daniel was just fine and that she and Nathan were spending most of the morning hiding under the bleachers to get out of the sun and would come out only when it was Daniel’s turn to run…
Sigh. Thank You God :o) and Yee Haw!!
I want to talk about some stuff you’d said in your email…
You’re assuming that if you don’t take your kids in, they’ll end up living on the streets. There’s nothing easy here, but, honest to God, do you REALLY want to have your kids living at your house? I don’t. Absolutely no way, nuh huh, nope, nope, nope.
Now, that being said, when Mike left this last time for Iraq, before he left, I looked him square in the eye and said to him, “Hear Me MichaelJohn. I know you love Melinda. I know Melinda loves you. But, and Dear God this is a huge but, But, if something happens to you over there, and you come home in tough shape, know that You Can Come Home. Things can happen in war that are too much for a spouse. You have to know, always always always, that you can come home and I will take care of you for however long it takes. He promised that he heard me, he thanked me for saying that, and he said that he really thought that Melinda would be there for him ‘like that’ if ever he needed her to be. Sigh. And she was there for him, and still is, in spades. God love em both!
But! Back to your guys. And NO, that doesn’t leave you off the hook here Missie! When Jim and I split and he brought Mindy and Daniel back to the states from England, Mindy had to make it on her own. It almost killed me but there was no way, 1 – I could take care of her and Daniel; and 2 – I ended up living with my mom and there’s just no way I could have asked my mom to take in all three of us. I felt like a total failure, totally lower than low. I couldn’t take care of my kids, my self, my life, my money [had none] my job [didn’t have one of those either for quite a while…] nuthin. Mom and I lived together til I got back on my feet and moved for a while to Naples. But, it was just me and mom – she didn’t have a hubbie like you do…
Ya know, when we lived in Germany, I ended up teaching Parenting with Love and Logic classes for the Army. That course saved my life, it honest to God did. One of the things I learned right off the bat was to stop taking responsibility for my kid’s lives. I’d never helped with their homework [I told them I hated doing homework when I was a kid, so you’re on your own, so that one was easy for me] but I had to tell them that “I’d love you no matter how many years it took you to get through high school” and that I was done trying to take care of them because they needed to learn to take care of themselves.
I needed to learn to “turn my words from garbage into gold” cuz for years and years and years, my NO! – to my kids – meant Maybe… and they learned very early on that all they had to do was bug me to death and eventually I’d tell them yes. I had no idea that I was teaching them to act that way. And until I was willing to let my NO MEAN NO, then mom was fair game. And it was horrible for me. It made me feel like such a shittie parent, know what I mean? I mean, I’d say no. They’d whine. I’d say No louder and then they’d cry. Then I’d go ballistic and all hell would break loose. I’d end up a shaking shambles and they’d get what it was they’d wanted in the first place.
It was easier for Jim than for me to stick to my guns at first but I knew I’d done it – years later – when Mike mentioned an incident that had happened when they were in high school. The principal of the school on base had instituted a policy that if a kid got in trouble in school, the parents had to go pick them up at the MP’s office [Military Police.] Well, I’d evidently hollered at him, “Well then, you’d better not screw up cuz there’s no way in hell I’m gunna go pick you up at the Police Station!!!” I swear to you, I don’t even Remember that conversation, but, Mike took it to heart and stayed out of trouble his three years at that school! Whew.
And with Mindy, when she got pregnant at 15, it totally totally totally broke my heart to have her pregnant so young. But God in His wisdom knows best. Mindy didn’t come to me until after she was 4 months pregnant and in Germany where abortion is not an option after three months… so, Mindy and I talked about her contacting my friend Anne in the states to see if she was still looking for a baby to adopt – she’d lost her baby a number of years earlier and wasn’t able to have any more children. I think it would have killed me to have to give her baby to someone we didn’t know, but we all loved Anne totally and completely so I thought that I might be able to handle it if I knew that the baby was being raised in Anne’s loving care… Mindy thought that was a good idea and I’d told her I’d contact Anne and then we could go from there. The very next morning, Mindy had come to me to ask if ‘there was any way that she could keep her baby?” and I’d said that I’d have to talk to Jim about it but I let her know at that time that if she was going to have a baby, it was going to have to be HER baby, not mine. I’d already raised my kids and besides, I’d just gone through an agonizing few months trying to decide if I was going to have one more baby of my own – I’d wanted a child with Jim in the worst way, but between he and I, we’d decided that we really didn’t want to raise another little guy through to adulthood – that we had 4 more years left with my guys and then we’d be footloose and fancy free to do what we wanted to do for us… And, while Jim was broken hearted for her as well [his mom was an unwed mother and life was none too easy on him believe me when I tell you!] but he said that as long as Mindy stayed in school and graduated high school, we’d support her in every way. He kept his word and so did she.
But Daniel was Her Baby. Again I didn’t find out til years later [my kids were good like that] that there weren’t very many people who thought I was a good mom – the Very Idea that I wouldn’t help Mindy with her baby – ie, be the babysitter, etc… I remember high school graduation – the ceremony was to be held at the Peterborough Cathedral in England and the school had sent a letter home asking folks to leave little kids home because the ceremony was to be such a stately, formal affair. Well first off, Mindy took gas because NOBODY was going to tell her where she could take her son or not! She took him everywhere! What an incredible mother she turned out to be! I’d watch her in amazement, but anywho… that’s another paragraph… So, Jim had said that, ok, she could bring Daniel to the ceremony but that I was not going to be the babysitter, that she needed to hire a baby sitter because if Daniel started to fuss, they’d have to take him out of the church so as not to disturb the other people attending the graduation. Perfect. Or so I thought. Daniel did beautifully, the kids looked great, and I was free to enjoy the ceremony without having to worry or fret that I might have to miss it by taking the baby outside if he got fussy. Jim had also told Mindy that the graduation was as much for her mom as it was for her and Mike cuz I’d been there every step of the way with them – I thought that was a lovely thought and I realized that he was exactly right. He usually was, God love him :o) Oh yea, but anyways, years later both Mike and Mindy told me about what ‘all the other mothers’ had said that I couldn’t even babysit the kid for the graduation ceremony :o) What the hell did I care what they thought :o) Course if I’d have heard the comments back then, I probably would have been hurt or pissed or something. But, as it turns out, I didn’t have a clue :o) Thank You God :o)
And ya know something else that Love and Logic taught me? That every single time that I stepped in to “Help” my kids, I was telling them that I didn’t think that they could take care of it themselves. Here I was thinking I was talking good care of them, but what I was really doing was sending them the message that they couldn’t make it on their own, that they couldn’t learn to take care of themselves. I was appalled when I realized that! There was no way that I wanted to keep telling those totally capable kids that they needed me, that they couldn’t do anything without me. I’ll tell you exactly what I told Billy just before he left San Diego a few weeks back– that because codependence runs in our families, that he needed to scrutinize every decision he made concerning the kids like he’d just come off of a drunk. He’d said that he thought he’d leave Timmy and Amy some cash when he left – not cuz he had to, but because he wanted to. And I asked him to take that decision to God – and explained just what I told you – that if he did that, he could be sending underlying messages telling them that they can’t make it on their own… That if he could be totally thrilled with the decision, then he knew it was the right one for him. If not, then he was probably making the decision out of guilt or some other negative emotion and that he needed to give that emotion up to God and leave his kids alone.
[4-8-11] Okie Dokie Pokie. It’s another day. This writing has waited patiently for me to get back to it, finish it up and get it sent off to you missie.
I have to thank you for filling me in on the Real Story behind your decision – I kept telling Billy that you weren’t being mean, that there was probably a mortgage payment or insurance or something that wasn’t getting paid, blah blah blah. Hello Wall :o) But ya gotta love em! Anywho, I was able to convey to Billy that your husband was losing the house and that’s why they needed the kids out, that because they hadn’t stepped up to the plate, he was losing his mom’s house, blah blah blah. I even yelled for ya :o) Anywho, he’d admitted that he hadn’t seen it like that before … ho hum.
Anywho, from my side of the fence, know that I love you, that I’m praying that you use this time to learn to take care of You, cuz as I’m learning, when I learn to take care of me, it gives everybody else permission to do the same. Once I stopped trying to do God’s job [taking care of everybody] once I got the hell out of my kid’s way, then He could do what He does best, the kids got on with their lives in their own power, and I got to live my own life. Whew and Amen :o) Easy? Nope. Simply. Yup: Give it up to God. And some days that means give it up to God in every moment over and over and over again.
Course, I’m now moving through what I hope are the last of my mom issues; now that’s one I wonder if it’ll ever sort itself out??? I had no idea that for years and years and years I was Very Busy living my mom’s life. It looked great on the outside, but I was dying inside…
Mom’s doing ok at this point. She’s been under Hospice care for almost 6 months and is down to 100 pounds. She’s still sharp most of the time but does get confused in some things. She’s had what probably amounts to three ‘mini-strokes’ but has come back each time. It’s been tough watching her slow down… thank God I have God. But that’s one of the greatest gifts of Mike’s accident – the inner knowing I now have that God is there for me, that He can comfort me in my darkest, darkest hours, and that I can make it through no matter how dark things can become.
I remember talking to God shortly after Mike’s accident. I’d said that I know that He comforts us and I wondered aloud how He was gunna comfort me because I was beyond devastated. I’d heard of Mike’s accident on a Friday morning and, God’s Grace, it was a holiday weekend so I had four full days to remain in the moments of pain and grief as they’d unfolded. Tuesday morning I’d walked into my office and my boss, precious friend, fellow Mother, Dottie, was standing quietly as I walked in. I looked into her eyes and she simply opened her arms and held me as I cried til my heart broke yet again. And that’s how God comforted me – through my friends. I’d never had friends before, not until very recently. And I realized that God had been very busy surrounding me with the most exquisite of ladies, full of heart and love and caring, and they gathered around me and truly held me up when I didn’t have the where-with-all to form a complete thought. But of that time, I was gifted with the deepest, most precious, wondrous totally dependent relationship in God that I’ve ever, ever experienced. I’d also been given early on that a child will lead them and I realized that indeed, that was the truth – a child will lead them because my child, my son Mike, had lead me deeper into God than I had ever, ever ever been before and it was a place that I would have Never gone willingly.
I remember waking up one morning and saying out loud, Ya know God. I got nuthin. So, if I’m to get out of this bed, You’re gunna have to do it cuz, I got nuthin. :o) And He got me through that day and the next and the next. Many a day I thought, I got nuthin, but God’s in charge and away I’d go, doing whatever was directly in front of me to do.
Geeze, I seem to be rambling all over the place here, so I’m gunna close for now. Again, know that I adore you. You are one of the kindest, most gentle, loving ladies I’ve ever known, and I count you as one of my dear friends cuz I know we have the same heart, no matter the years, no matter the miles.
All my love!!