Mother’s Day has passed and Father’s Day is upon us but, what do you do if your only child has estranged herself from both of their parents? Do you forget the day, treating it as any other day or, do you embrace the fact that you did all that you could as a parent and celebrate what you have done as a mother or a father?
This year, I chose to not celebrate Mother’s Day since my own mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers had passed on. Worse than that, the only child that I had put everything into raising, was nowhere to be found and hadn’t been for over a year and a half. What was there to celebrate? After all, a “good mother” still has her child around her, doesn’t she? I must have done something wrong, somewhere, somehow and therefore, wasn’t entitled to celebrate as a “mother” was I?
Today is Father’s Day and the same holds true for my husband who takes things much less emotionally and much more pragmatically than I do. Yet he, on the other hand, feels some sort of right to celebrate the fact that he did raise his child and was a father. As with our mothers, both of our fathers, grandfathers etc., have all passed on so, there’s nowhere to focus our attention except in our hearts and minds. Going to a cemetery doesn’t cut it for us as neither of us believe that we need to be there to think of them with love.
There won’t be any text messages, emails or other forms of communication from our only child who is now in their 30’s. There definitely won’t be a phone call or visit with an “I love you, Happy Father’s Day, Dad” nor a “thank you for all that you’ve done for me,” as we did with both of our dads though, they were less than stellar fathers in a lot of ways and, certainly not the type of father my husband was to our only child.
Life can’t stop because our only child has chosen to be with a drug riddled jerk who has been estranged from his own parents for a couple of decades due to his nasty behaviour with them. Yet, he does see his own father, brother and uncle, daily because, he works with them in a family business. It was a job created for him by his parents to keep him off of the streets. Still, to the best of my knowledge, there are no special occasions that he is invited to be part of while his youngest sibling and wife are invited.
It’s taken me the better part of this over a year and a half to recognize that we were not to blame in this estrangement situation. While I had been blaming myself for something that I could never figure out, it took one wise therapist I had consulted for myself in order to emotionally and mentally deal or cope with the situation. She asked one simple question that put it all into some sort of perspective which stopped the self-blaming I’ve been doing to myself.
“Is it just you and your husband she’s been doing this with,” the therapist asked quite keenly honed into the situation.
“No,” I answered, thinking about this as I was caught for words to respond. “No. She’s walked away from all of her friends, what’s left of both sides of our families and everyone else.”
The therapist sat looking at me as though waiting for a lightbulb to go on over my head and, it did. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t simply her father and I. It was everyone she’d walked away from. Her friends had each called me or bumped into me, asking me what was going on and why our daughter had done what she’d done to them. The few remaining family members did the same thing in a different context by asking, “what’s wrong with her?”
Right there, I had an answer. We had done nothing wrong as her parents in the same way that her entire group of friends and what was left of both of our families had done nothing wrong to her to cause her to take this stance. The plain and simple fact was that she had chosen to do so for reasons that perhaps, I will never understand.
Perhaps, she is a victim to an overbearing, domineering, mentally unsound, drug riddled jerk? Maybe, she’s become an addict herself? It may well be that she’s being abused? Yet, in all of our efforts of reaching out to her, trying to get her to talk it out with us, go for therapy as a family, talk to us or her friends, it’s all been rudely and violently rejected. It’s left us with nothing further to try. We’ve tried it all at the advice of three therapists I’ve consulted. They’ve all given the same advice now, “back off of trying and let her go but, hold onto hope.”
Not every family gets along. There’s a lot of families who have chosen to be separated for varying reasons that are personal to them. Your child though, is a different story. Not many of us would wish our child or children to be out of our lives even if they were living in another country. Modern technology permits face-to-face contact through digital means. It’s akin to sitting across a table from one another and talking. Unfortunately, all of the technology in the world doesn’t help when your child doesn’t want to be part of your life or, has chosen to allow a creep to dictate who they see and talk to or, who they don’t. Holidays such as today are the worst in that realization.
There are days now when I feel as though I wasted over 30 years of my life in trying to be the best parent I knew how to be. More days now, I wish that I had have refrained from wanting a child and being a mother. My life could have been different but, how is the question. Would my life truly have been better had I chosen to not have a child given that it took us over a year and a half of trying for one and never could have another? I don’t know the answer to that and never will because I made a choice and followed through with it.
I know that we are not alone as parents of an estranged child. There are many more out there who are as befuddled, hurt, grieving and lost as we are especially, me. A lot of parents simply don’t wish to talk about it but, I know that there are more out in this world than we’d care to admit. The reality is, there’s nowhere for us to turn as we are not welcomed into bereavement groups as our children still hold the “hope” of returning one day. No doctor or therapist has the answers for us and we can’t get past our own stories to know what else to do with these horrid emotions as there’s no one to guide us. Though as old as the hills, no one trains to help us through it all. There simply isn’t help available to us as parents of estranged children.
My family doctor once uttered her only pearl of wisdom as mother to 4 children who are still part of her life.
“You’re only has happy as your un-happiest child,” she said and left it there.
More Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, Christmases, birthdays and whatever holidays we have to celebrate will go by. Until or unless our daughter wakes the hell up and decides that the freak she’s chosen to follow, has major issues, get herself together and her life again, there’s nothing we can do except to watch others with their families. It hurts, sucks and feels like someone has dug a knife into our stomachs or chests. Still, we have no answers as to why and the way it’s going, likely won’t.
Yet, I still hold onto hope.
Comment below if you are or have been in the same position.
Be well, Love and Light.
Have a great day or evening and Happy Father’s Day to those fathers out there who have their children around for them and with them even if digitally.
From my little corner of life to yours.