Mourning the normal milestones...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Bean, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. Bean

    Bean Member

    Was reading Stang's thread about her child in jail as his class graduates and didn't want to hijack. But lately I've been doing some mourning in relation to these normal "milestone" times.

    My daughter's class graduated last year (she was in and out of jail, tx, etc.), but a lot of her friends were younger, and are graduating this year. My daughter worked on her GED in jail and in treatment, but never really put much into it and never completed it.

    It's really hitting home for me lately, seeing all these kids going to prom, graduating, and moving on to college. I have this horrid happy-envy that I'm battling with. As moms complain about their kid's dresses and graduation-party drama, I'm wanting to scream at the top of my lungs, I WISH I HAD THAT PROBLEM TO DEAL WITH!!!

    But I don't, of coarse. And then I torture myself by looking at her friend's facebooks and reading their status updates (I am friends with a few of them), about their parties and joys. And I am happy for them. I'm just so devastatingly sad that my own child brings me so little joy, and that I've missed out on basically any enjoyment with her in the past few years. I feel so cheated at times when it comes to her. I know it isn't healthy to be co-dependently tied to someone else to make you happy, and I'm not - I'm working on that detachment and balance.

    Has this been hard for you? I have good days and bad, but it's especially hard right now, with it going on all around me.
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Bean - I think I consciously don't think about this stuff most of the time, but it's kinda funny - it hit me today, just a little bit. I've got a HS reunion coming up. Now, I'm not going to go, but it's my choice (HS was just barely this side of Hades for me, LOL). But I started thinking about thank you and how he will never have the choice to go to a HS reunion. He was in RTCs and Special Education schools for so long, he doesn't even really have a HS to affiliate himself with. Still no GED, still not doing anything useful. Same old same old.

    And then I started thinking about his friends - he doesn't have a single one that he "grew up" with. His circle now consists of a couple of kids from his last placement and a handful of street kids. There will be no one he can share childhood memories with. Not even his sibs, because heaven knows their childhood memories that involve thank you are the stuff that nightmares are made of.

    But then I remembered that he tried to burn my house down last night and ruined yet another irreplaceable keepsake because he's got zero boundaries, zero common sense, and just doesn't give a darn. And I stopped feeling a sense of loss for what he will never know he's missing.

    Neither of my 2 oldest had the prom, the graduation, all that stuff, one because of his choices and one because ... well, they just don't do that kind of stuff for the severely disabled around here (I was more than a bit peeved about that for quite a while, but now that the end of Special Education is so near, I just want it to be OVER, LOL). My youngest son probably won't ever do prom (though miracles do happen), but he will graduate and will go on to college. And my baby girl will do it all. So in a way, because I missed so many "normal" milestones with- the oldest 2 kids, when the younger 2 do hit them, they are that much sweeter.

    And most of the time, I really do just try not to think about it. ;) One foot in front of the other, hon.
  3. judi

    judi Active Member

    My son is older (25 now) and yes, I did mourn the things that never were for him: prom, graduation, the "normal" teen stuff that his older brother did.

    However, I had to move on as my son has done. It doesn't mean that husband and I forget, just that, like other sad events in our lives, we have to get past them.

    I'm so sorry that you are hurting.
  4. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Bean, your post brought back many memories. Rob had some of those milestones but he was in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and then a group home for his last two years of high school so his Dad and I didn't get to share the experiences with him, except peripherally.

    I remember vividly listening to people wax poetic about their perfect, over-achieving children and I wanted to slap them silly. Instead, I invented The Bobblehead (vacant smile, head nodding, while I'm imagining all kinds of terrible things-lol) for listening to them, for Rob, for LIFE.

    It's rough but you will survive this- honest. I've always said that the gift Rob gave me was the "gift of appreciation." I truly appreciate every day I live without rancor. Every time we get together without an argument; every hug; every "thanks, Mom" and of course every "I love you, Mom." Most people don't really acknowledge or appreciate these moments, let alone consider them miracles...but I do.

    Big hugs,
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    What a heartwarming thread. (Hugs).
    Some of my "stuff" is a tad lighter...but I understand well these feelings, having similar experiences.

    RE: our difficult child daughter...there has been many many of these type of milestone losses.
    I recall when I was active in my bookclub, the moms would get together and spend at least an hour of "bragging." Their kids did great in school, were dating interesting people, went to prom, got awards, were in interesting extracurrciular activities, then got great SAT scores, then got scholarships and went on to great colleges...some majoring in MEDICINE, etc.

    difficult child was graduating HS (a big positive), but only after we put her in a private school for Learning Disability (LD) kids and after a LOT of big time, over the top, near daily, heartache.

    FEW even asked about my difficult child. It was disturbing.

    by the way, I recall a neighbor of mine complaining bitterly that her daughter decided to go to the honors program at the community college. The mother was severely depressed over this. She wanted her to go to an out of state university. The daughter even said she would be ready to go away in two years. This woman didn't know me and my story. But I sure felt like telling her "You MUST be kidding me if this is your BIGGEST concern."

    One that hit me hard was kind of unusual. difficult child did NOT attend her brother's wedding. I went out of my way to help her...bought her two dresses to chose from, the shoes she wanted (two pairs of them 'cause her feet are two different sizes), etc. Just did my best to help her feel comfortable and she did not attend. We are a tiny family and when the photographer took our "family photo," there was THREE OF US. Why? Cause all our relatives have passed. To make it more itneresting...difficult child sister was missing. The other family was aghast. But that was not much of an just hit me hard that our family was so tiny and that difficult child could not get herself together for such an important occassion. It hit me...felt like a major loss.

    Bean.. I know this is very very hard. You might consider avoiding FB pages of these kids. If you are friends with them, do your best to be genuinely happy for those who are doing well. Your child is not here to bring you joy, really. Congratulate your child for any good things she might be doing. And consider concentrating on your own needs, especially what brings you happiness and go for this in a major way. (hugs).
    Lasted edited by : Jun 8, 2010
  6. Bean

    Bean Member

    Interesting the different things in life that sometimes tug at your heart. So many times here I just want to hug people. :) So another hug out to you all. I can totally relate to everything you're saying.

    I am genuinely happy for her friends, and for the kids that I've seen board the bus for the first day of kindergarten - and now they're celebrating their achievements, working, having babies (!!?) and just plain growing up. I need to let myself be happy and turn off the switch that starts to tug at me. And it is very true - I can soak up the joys that loved ones grace my life with, but I can't rely on it for my complete happiness.

    Gosh, it is hard to exercise the brain, isn't it? It's one thing to turn down a brownie at a party, but quite another to disallow yourself to wallow in self-pity. I've been known to have my pity party for one with ice cream on top, and it generally isn't helpful.

    My parents missed out on a lot with me, too. I can't help but feel badly about that. I didn't graduate, got my HSED later. But through other things in life I've given them many more smiles... I can choose to focus on the smiles, even if they are rare, that my daughter gives me from time to time, too.
  7. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Yes, Bean, I get the sadness! One twin graduated without his brother and showed up at the ceremony "what's wrong, mom? I thought you'd be happy that I showed up for my brother's graduation!" GAG! He is only now realizing his foolish choices and is suffering the consequences. This has been quite a sobering experience for him.

    Many warm, understanding hugs!
  8. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Like Nomad, my burdens have been lighter in this area, but I do get it. Since difficult child has dropped out of college, I am always hearing the lament of the parents whose kids are just way too stressed out over getting A's at their prestigious college. Oh, how these parents wish their kids could just loosen up and have fun! (Watch what you wish for!!!!);)
    And, yes, parents who are severely depressed because their kids choose a decent path - a path that might be right for the kid, but somehow doesn't fit the parent's agenda ... ticks me off to no end.

    My difficult child did the prom and grad thing, but did them with great drama in her difficult child way. I was thrilled she did them, though, and I've realized we celebrate our difficult child's accomplishments differently because we define "accomplishment" on a very unique scale. My difficult child got a job this week at a nursing home. She'll be doing laundry and housekeeping. I am doing the happy dance over this. For the moment, she is proud and happy. I know some parents who would go into therapy if their kid got such a job at 18 while all the neighbor's kids were busy with Lacrosse and college finals. My difficult child's world is different. Welcome to Holland.

  9. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think you hit the nail on the head, dash. It's hard for parents of a easy child to understand this. That's why this place is so important for so many of us, we "get it."

    Neither of my girls had a high school graduation. Oldest did graduate, but several months late. She was so behind on schoolwork that she was taking correspondence classes to make up the credits to graduate. She procrastinated so much they weren't done in time for regular graduation, so she got her diploma in September. I was just glad she got it, at all. Youngest dropped out 5 months before graduation, has never gotten her GED. She talks about it once in awhile, but with a 3 year old and one on the way, it's not likely to happen anytime soon. Oldest did attend prom and a couple of homecoming dances, but Youngest never went to a single dance (and she is the more "girly" of the two).

    I feel ripped off on "normal" marriage/children things too. Oldest got married, but I knew it was doomed.. I still paid for a dress and other thigns, but her marriage was over in less than six months. It was awkward when people later asked about how she and her new husband were doing. Youngest got pregnant at 18 while living with me, and now is pregnant by another man that she isn't married to. Yet, being a mother turned her around .. no more drinking/experimentation with drugs, and she is a wonderful mother, even if I don't always agree with her decisions. Still, again, people ask about her children and if the subject of their fathers comes up, it's awkward (most of the time it doesn't come up, and some assume her current fiance is Aidan's father, but, it's hanging there in the air.

    I wish one or both of them could have had the college experience... and I know Oldest in particular is sad about that, as many of her H.S. friends have graduated from college and are working career-type jobs (while she waitresses/works counters at sandwich shops).

    It's just.. different. While it's painful, I also do my best to focus on the accomplishments/improvements my children have made in their lives. Oldest is a survivor, she manages to figure out ways to make her life work despite obstacles and mistakes she's made. Youngest is a great mother, and has become more independent. Different milestones.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My kids are not the average bears either. Oldest one did graduate HS and has received one AA and one certificate from the local community college but he wasnt into all that prom stuff. Jamie graduated HS and went to prom but only because his girlfriend wanted to go. Of course, Cory has done none of that. He feels badly now.

    One thing Suz said reminded me of a day when I really had it up to my eyeballs with folks talking about their easy child kids and their easy child problems. I was at work this day (and I worked for Social Services so I was surrounded by social workers) and they were all yapping about how their easy child kids were going to prom and they were getting mad about such and such dress that cost too much or they were buying them a car or who was going to which college or some such easy child junk.

    They made the mistake of turning and asking me why I was just sitting there quietly and not talking about where my kids were going and how Cory was doing...oh big mistake!

    See at the time Cory was at one of his worst times. He was being sent from group home to group home and he had just been sent to the state mental hospital. I told them...Oh dont worry Cory, he is going to either end up in jail or in the mental hospital for life. I dont think they half proms there but maybe they do, who knows? I have asked every last one of you at this table for help with my kid and none of you had any ideas for me. Nice. I guess you were too busy worrying about your kids cars, prom or colleges. I guess I understand that. Your kids come before any of the kids in this county even if you are the social workers who are supposed to care about the kids here.

    You could have heard a pin drop.

    I didnt work for the county much longer.
  11. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    It definitely gives me pause and some days when I mourn the loss of average life I realize difficult child did me a favor being born first. I had no problem about worrying too much over easy child.LOL. He got no pressure from me about SAT's and grades unless he was being lazy. I understood that some kids have the ability to get to the end of the race in a straight line. Some have to take an alternate path and some get lost for a while. Not everyone blossoms at the same time. The kids who are the stars in high school may never again have life in their hand like they do then. I've seen it several times. They were the best they were ever going to be in high school.
    Hopefully our difficult child's will find their way to enter the race again and get to their own version of the finish line.
    In the meantime, I will talk about my easy child's accomplishments and contemplate his choices because he deserves to be in my daily conversations as much as difficult child is in them. I don't begrudge kids being successful whatever way that is shown. I hope someday to rave about what difficult child is doing in his life. I surely know each of you will celebrate with me because only mom's of difficult child's know about the obstacles they overcame.
    Bean, be sad for the loss of the normal life. I am too. Tomorrow maybe things will look better.
  12. Bean

    Bean Member

    Hmm. You know, sometimes I'm resentful. I think of how much different our lives would be, how much safer our home would feel if my daughter's selfishness wasn't top priority. Her gang involvement brought a real sense of fear to our home (we had someone come here and destroy property). One of my sons, to this day, locks the doors constantly and closes windows. So many violent, unstable instances brought chaos into our home. It's so hard when you strive to have your home be a haven of peace, love... and it gets turned on its end by your difficult child. I don't think about it too much, because it is what it is and our experiences shape us - especially the grace we use going through them. But, it feels good to vent a little sometimes, so I appreciaite the space to do so.
  13. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    While mine are a bit younger than yours, the grief of what-will-never-be is often overwhelming. My nieces/nephews are blowing right by my kids in every way - despite many of them being younger. It is so flipping hard.
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911

    The mourning of a milestone is like the death of a dream. - My therapist told me this when I was in the place you are right now. I was told it was NOT a pitty party - but rather the pain from seeing MY DREAMS go by the way side. What helped me get back on track and not constantly get melancholy about Dudes 'Failures' were two things - First, I had to take into consideration that the things I was sad about were milestones I had envisioned for my son. They weren't HIS dreams or aspirations necessarily. Matter of fact if you ask him today? He'd tell you he missed a LOT being in psychiatric hospitals, and being in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s, group homes, and jail - I think in 15 years we may have had him home for something like 3 birthdays and 2 Christmases. Only one Easter - but when I realized that he didn't care about prom, he didn't care about being in a school play, he didn't care if I was a member of the PTA, or the parents that come help around holidays....It helped me realize that WE both did what we could do with the abilities we had. We didn't set out to do a bad thing - stuff happens , and as a result somethings never come to fruition...but who's fruition. He wasn't upset he missed prom. Not at all. I was.....I had a stroke when he became a felon - no, a real stroke - hospital and all. I wasn't able to snap out of it - and I passed out - my body had had enough. Him? He's just po'd because they want his money and the cop lied - Later he'll realize that this is ''stroke'' worthy as a parent but right now? He just wants out from under the responsibility. As far as highschool went? Well - yeah it's hard every graduation - but then I think - HOW many kids can do what he does - as well as he does and then list his positives.

    I sit back and think about his life - and finally started asking him to think about HIS dreams.....and not live forced vicariously through mine. He had XX time - what did he want to do with it? Motivate, and support - Detach .......because all signs pointed to "not going to get better any time soon, but maybe it will so in the mean time instead of feeling sorry for ME? I go DO something for me and have my OWN milestones." So I decided to learn another language, learn how to do carpentry - (Hey I got a book I can read)

    The other thing I found out that day from my therapist was that it is OKAY to mourn the things we loose. Everyone grieves in their own way about death - this milestone death isn't any less of a loss just because it was something you hoped for. It hurts. It should be dealt with - and normally you learn and don't make the same mistakes - but think about WHO is making the mistake - then put it in perspective that YOU have had your chance to live at 18 - NOW this is HIS chance - his time - his mess up- his joy, his do-over, his failure, his accomplishments.

    Lastly the best observation I ever made about my own pity parites? I survived where Gargoyles fear to tread. Despite this? I raised a son the best I could, taught him right from wrong and I appreciate the smallest little things now that had I a 'normal' son? I'd have no appreciation of. A dandelion on my car seat - HUGE. Trash taken out without asking - ENORMOUS. A call just to say I LOVE YOU. brings me to tears some days....because - he knows.

    They may not get it as quickly as other kids - but when you feel like this - tell yourself you did the best job you could, you couldn't have done it any better.....Then think about something that he HAS done - that IS good. Remind yourself of those things. Write them down in a book - when you're sad? Open that book - and read those things. You'll be amazed at your own grace for appreciating such small things. It's like appreciating an ant - every day. An ant is small - most days you don't think about them - but they're there, they have a purpose and yet we always see the grass that isn't mowed. Appreciate your ant.

    Hugs & Love -
  15. Bean

    Bean Member

    Thank you, Star.
  16. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Star, on my good days I can agree with all that you said. On my bad days, I am hurt and furious that I have to 'settle' for being happy about some small shadow of what my child could have/should have/would have been. It is not as hard with Kanga because I clearly see how her choices are directing her path. But for the other 3 who try so hard and still fall short of so many milestones, it breaks my heart because they know they aren't keeping up with their peers and it hurts them too. It is an ongoing internal battle to let go of the dreams I had for them and adjust to dreams they are capable of achieving (no Harvard, but maybe a small, supportive college, etc.)
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JJJ, I think it is much harder to watch the milestones go buy when both the children and the parents know there is a difference. Much harder.

    In some corner of my mind I always knew I was different and was missing out on so many so called normal things. I acted out to make it appear like I couldnt have cared less but deep inside I was a mess. I dont know if my parents were upset or not. I tend to think it actually made my mom happy that I wasnt a good kid, that I was a stupid child and didnt do things right. I think she fed off that and it proved her theory of me. I think I probably broke my Dad's heart on many ocassions but he just was too tired by then to even say anything.

    Now I look back and I am so upset that I didnt do the things I was supposed to do. I didnt go to any dances, I didnt graduate, I didnt go to college on time, I didnt get married the right way so I could have my dad walk me down the isle. All that just goes through my head over and over.

    It really bothered me when my dad walked my step-sister down the isle. Sigh. I felt so left out.
  18. cakewalk

    cakewalk Member

    Bean, I'm in mourning right along with you. It's very hard... no suggestions for you... just sending good thoughts your way.
  19. Bean,

    I too am mourning, and I'm sending good thoughts your way as well. I'm a couple of years into a greater acceptance of where difficult child is , and who he is. My old dreams for him are being replaced with ones that I believe are more appropriate for him. We live in a very small community, and difficult child went to school with the same group of kids from pre-K all the way through high school. Everyone knows everyone here, and I'm sad to say, the other kids and parents (for the most part) tend to avoid us. They definitely don't ask us about difficult child. That's really too bad, because we are so very proud of him. We never expected him to graduate from high school - and never dreamed that he would finish even one year of college -which he has done. I'll have to say, though, the social isolation really hurts. It seems to have grown from difficult child to encompass our entire family.

    husband and I have begun to accept the fact that difficult child will probably be living with us , well unless something radically changes, for the rest of our lives. We're actively planning for his life after we are gone - and instilling all those skill sets that he will need to take care of himself. Of course, we would like some time just to ourselves, but we're working on ways to make it work for all of us. This change of dreams really seems to be a work in process for me. I suppose it might always be that way.

  20. emotionallybankrupt

    emotionallybankrupt New Member

    This is a very interesting thread and I'm glad I happened upon it, as I've not been on the forum much lately. This issue is very much on my mind now, as I realize that all difficult child's classmates are now moving into their senior year, with all the excitement and anticipation that goes along with it. Meanwhile, difficult child has missed all that--and so have I. It's her life, and I'm saying that to myself a lot lately. I've also realized I need to anticipate and prepare for next May, when all her classmates will be graduating and going off to college. That will be a tough one. But does she miss any of this? What of it was important to her to begin with? I don't know and definitely think it would be a slam to ask her. If she is grieving any of this, I think it would make her feel worse to bring it up.

    But yes, I think we all have to grieve the lost dreams we had for our difficult child's. I think all parents have certain dreams for their children that never come about, but the big difference is that certain "basics" tend to be assumed. I never thought it was a "dream" that she would graduate from high school, be a somewhat responsible teenager, etc. I thought it was a given, especially with her intelligence and talents, along with early high achievement. parent expects in the early years to "lose" that sweet child at 12. Mine didn't move out until 16, but I see looking back that I essentially lost her at 12. That's when everything spun so far out of control, and no intervention ever brought her back. So...I had 2/3 the "normal" parenting years "in the nest." With such stark differences from the "norm," I think there's bound to be a lot of grieving, and that is the case for most of us. It's only the details that are different.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2010