July 22, 2010

Family Ties...

Time to get back into writing.  I've been in summer mode since school got out, and have had a hard time spending more than a few minutes at a time at the computer (read:facebook). 

Unfortunately, our weather has turned to crap again so we're all wearing sweatshirts and hanging around the house. I shouldn't complain; I know other people are dying in heat waves around the country or getting flooded out.  I just miss my poolside chaise lounge down in California!

The vacation was good for everyone, although I think the beneficial part for Matt was taking his little brother to Mississippi for the first time.  Kenneth's family is all there, and Matt is close to all of them.  He's been wanting to take Jack down there with him for years; this year seemed a good time for me to say yes.

They had a great time, as I knew they would. No over-protective Mom hanging over their heads to direct their every move. Still, I knew they were in good hands with Matt's Aunt Kim, who has always been like a second mother to him. Jack loved her, and in his thank you note, he wrote "I felt loved". That totally brought a tear to my eye!

Since they got home, Matt has been doing ok. Kim and I both were worried about how he's not really dealing with his Dad's death, but who's to say he is or isn't? I'm not in his head. I'm just afraid that this calm, seemingly everything's ok attitude is a facade, that the real explosion of anger and hurt is right around every corner. Yeah, that's me, constantly having to be worried about something.

But seriously, if he's keeping all that inside, something's gotta give at some point, right? He won't go to counseling, he won't talk to anyone (that I know of).  He just keeps really busy with his friends.  I know, that sounds like any normal 17 year old kid, but I wish there were more of a connection to our family. The one thing that hasn't changed since he came back to live with us is his lack of interest in being a part of "us". He tells me his friends are his family - the family he wants. He is always polite and respectful to us, helps around the house, etc, but he's not connected. There's no bond there, and I'm not sure if there ever was. I pretty much let him come and go as he pleases (not what I would choose) just because it's what he's so used to, and what will cause the least tension. Fighting with him is just something I can't do anymore. The slightest indication that we're going to battle sends me into a panic attack so quickly that I have to leave the room the minute I sense it. I have no desire anymore to engage and prove my point. I have no desire to be right or to have any kind of control or authority over him.  He hasn't caused me any grief so far - meaning that he's always home at a decent hour, stays out of trouble, is nice to everyone. I can't push my luck.

Does that sound complacent? Lazy? I don't want to work too hard? Maybe. Maybe this is me, being the parent who finds that discipline is just too hard, that it's easier to say yes, to give in, to look the other way, than to create healthy boundaries. I guess I see it differently, though (of course I do, I'm trying to rationalize) since he's so much older, and the situation is somewhat unique.

I don't know. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. I may be setting a precedent for Jack that will come back to haunt me later. I may be setting myself up for a fall, who knows.  Right now, what I do know is that we're all getting along relatively well and as long as I can keep it like this, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing.


  1. My heart goes out to you. I know it must be difficult....like walking on eggshells.

  2. Everything we do with kids feels like a giant question mark... I'm either growing them into fantastic humans or I'm screwing them up good for their future therapist.

    The thing is, you can't EVER know which one you're doing. So you have to just do the best you can, making the decisions you think are the best for the situations you are in.

    My guess is Matt needs less conflict right now too. And while he might not say you all feel like family, my guess is someday he will.

    You're doing good, Tam. Breathe.