Just as a small part of you dies when a friend succeeds, (according to Gore Vidal), a small part of me celebrates triumphantly when a friend fails spectacularly at parenting, like I have so many times.
Do you know what has truly kept me sane through all these troubled ‘Kurt years’? It’s the support of friends, family, and you, my virtual friends, many of whom seem to understand, having shared similar parenting challenges.
Last weekend, having led an over-hasty, triumphant march on a recent post about Kurt’s progress into social acceptance, we were very quickly forced back into retreat; at least a thousand steps backwards, by my estimation, almost as soon as I’d typed those words of victory on my screen. It feels like the real life version of Snakes And Ladders in our family, and I know it’s part of the process and I’m not as affected as I would have been two years ago, nevertheless my Rosacea flared up this morning in protest and I’m still not sure if the red blotches are linked to stress, the cheap wine to compensate for happiness at the pub or the quantities of cheese I consumed to make myself feel better.
I need to remember that whenever one reaches a fork in the road, there is always a risk, that eventually we will learn from when we take the wrong turn. After the first painful few hours where my body went into shock, followed quickly by a meltdown of mammoth proportions, and finally acceptance – a feeling I can only compare to losing your right arm to a shark, but thanking God that you’re still alive – we have put another ‘plan’ in place.
There’s always another plan as parents. There has to be. This is our child. That is what we do. We love unconditionally.
The tricky part is finding the right balance between demonstrating a tough enough stance in the face of the severity of the behavior, without compromising on the unconditional love of being a parent.
Unfortunately, it seems that the day has yet to come where Kurt will wake up to a light bulb going on and the wires finally connecting; so in the meantime we wait.
We have family and friends going through similar experiences as us, thank God; where parenting has become a scary rollercoaster ride of frightening unpredictability where no-one knows what happens next. And we all huddle together over wine when we get together and try to remain positive, but inside we die a little more with every backward step.
Those family and friends are probably closer to us because ‘craziness’ doesn’t fall far from the tree and ‘crazy’ tends to attract ‘crazy’. Whatever the reason, it’s great to have people you can admit your worst fears to, who you can describe the shame and the feelings of failure to, yet still laugh about it on occasion.
And they get it.
Yes, we are lucky to have a network of people surrounding us who get it, who make up for those who judge us and refuse to believe that we have tried everything or persist in blaming our poor parenting skills.
And I need to remember to reach out to that network when the shit hits the fan, because what I tend to do in those situations (which is why I’m like a fucking burst water pipe on this blog) is bottle up all the feelings of despair and failure and convince myself that no-one wants to hear it because there are many people with skeletons and terrible lives who are much worse off than us.
That I have no right to self-pity.
But to be honest, it’s not self-pity any more. It’s frustration, that no matter what I do, I can’t fix my son, and the best thing I can do for him is to fix how his decisions affect me and my sanity, to be a role model for love and kindness when he comes through the other side.
And in spite of the current puffiness of my face, that part is getting easier with a little help from my friends.