Saturday, May 30, 2009

I’m Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old

ALERT: There is absolutely no humor in this post. It’s nothing but a “The Gonzo Mama feeling sorry for herself” post. You’ve been warned.

I can’t really say when this feeling began. Perhaps the breaking point was waking up one morning and finding that I’d become the un-expectant mother of seven children at the ripe old age of thirty-one.

Lately, though… lately, it’s hitting hard.

I’m thirty-four, y’all. Just thirty-four, and suddenly I’m facing my oldest daughter, Princess, leaving in two weeks. Add to that the fact that The Dude, at fifteen, is now old enough to be picking up Random Girl during family outings.

Random Girl may have many different faces, but she’s all the same person to me: a girl that I know nothing about, except that she is probably going to seduce my son into taking Ecstasy and going to rainbow parties. She probably has hair dyed a shade not found in nature, and she probably has at least three body piercings.

In short, she’s me, ten years ago. Or fifteen. Or… okay, I’ll admit it – nineteen years ago.

That, of course, is the reason she is so untrustworthy… I’ve been in her shoes, and I rocked those four-inch stilettos for all they were worth, y’all. I was not the model teen, and I know all of Random Girl’s dirty little secrets, because they were my secrets first.

The difference? I didn’t have a cell phone with which to text naughty little innuendos and take naughty little pics of myself to send to my boy of the moment. That’s right – boy, because, at fifteen, The Dude is still as much boy as he is man…

… and frankly, I’m not ready for that “man” part. I’m just not ready.

“Dude, I need you to be more considerate about the amount of time you spend in the shower,” I explained months ago. “I mean, I don’t know what you’re doing in the shower for forty-five minutes, but there are a lot of people in this house, and only two bathrooms, so…”

“Well, uh…”

“Never mind,” I decided. “As the mother of a teenaged boy, I probably don’t want to know what you’re doing in the shower for forty-five minutes.”

“Heh, heh, heh…”

And Princess? Oh, boy… where do I start? She’s leaving. That’s right, leaving… right after graduation. Her courses don’t start at Washington State University until August, but she’s leaving after graduation to spend the summer with her biological mother, who she hasn’t seen more than sixty or so days per year for over nine years.

And you know what, y’all? That hurts.

I know I should be the bigger person and learn to let go, but I’m just not ready. I mean, how selfish do I need to be, right? I’ve had Princess for over half of her life. I know, without a doubt, that I have had more influence over her, on a day-to-day basis, than anyone else in her life, but… I feel like I’m losing her not to growing up, but to that “other mother;” the one who has been allowed to do so little since giving birth to my amazing daughter and yet somehow keep the title of “mother.”

Me? I’ve had to live with the title “Ama” (short for "Alternate Mama") all this time because “Mom” has messed with her children’s heads so much and threatened to not see them anymore if they anger her or prove “disloyal” by loving me at all. When in her presence, they aren’t allowed to say, “I love you,” to me because it would anger their mother.

This is the woman who wins Princess’s last summer before college? This is the woman who gets to spend the girlfriend time with my daughter this summer? The woman who said to me, in an email, “I am and always will be the mother of my children. In no way will they ever see it differently, that said, in their minds I have limitless amnesty. It is my opinion that this is the place you have a difficult time grasping. I am not sure this will ever change, you are in a difficult position… I can’t make my children love anyone like their father or mother, nor should this be expected. Your relationship will always be different than the one you have with your own son.”

That’s where you’re wrong, Ms. Mother of All. I attest that I know “your” children as well as my “own” son. I attest that I know “your” children better than you do. You know why? Because I’m the one who’s been around for the last nine years, making their meals, helping them with their homework, taking care of them when they’ve been sick, paying for the educational expenses that you’ve refused to share, bearing the burden of being the mother that you couldn’t be bothered to be.

In all fairness, Princess says that the reason she wants to spend the summer with her bio mom is because she feels like she doesn’t really know her birth mother. I suppose it’s true. Sad, but true. Her “real” mom has spent nothing but the minimum amount of court-ordered visitation with her kids, and last time we went to court, she petitioned for far, far less of that time.

And THAT, my friends, is why I’m feeling so betrayed. I’ve been the “through thick and thin” mom, while the “real” mom has been allowed to phone it in (literally) for nine years.

I need to get over it. It’s destroying my relationship with Princess. We used to be so close, and these days I’m so bitter over her decision, I know I’m taking it out on her. She’s beginning to hate me because I’m acting and feeling so resentful.

Any advice, readers?


  1. Gonzo,

    Your anger and hurt are completely understandable. Not only is it difficult to see your oldest go off to college, but it must be heart-wrenching to see her go spend time with a woman who has consistently demeaned you.

    Your eldest needs to know her birth mother better - probably because her "real" mother has been so absent from her life. Your daughter must feel some degree of confusion and hurt over that. Perhaps your daughter, deep down, wants to find out "why?"

    You are allowed to feel resentful. However, I think it's a huge mistake to ACT resentful, because then you are tacitly telling your daughter that you think she loves her birth mother more than she loves you, which is completely unfair. Kids don't have a limited amount of love to divide among parents. Love is the one thing in this world that grows - but you can't cultivate it with resentment.

    Once our kids become young adults, we can't stop them from seeking people who may not have their best interests at heart. I wish we could. I think the best thing we can do is keep reaching out to our kids so that they can grab our hands when they realize they've tripped.

    Thinking of you...

  2. Oh Gonzo, the heartbreak of being a mom. ESPECIALLY of being the kind of mom you are . . . giving and loving and totally putting your kids first. But you know what? THEY know who you are and what you give. And they love you for it. And NO ONE can take that away.

    The best thing you can do is to BE THERE for Princess this summer . . . because she WILL need you. Spending an entire summer with a bio mother who has petitioned for LESS time is fraught with peril for tears and heartbreak.

    You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing yourself with us as well as your family daily!

  3. Wow. That sucks. I'm so sorry.With that said, it's obvious Princess is freaking out about leaving home and becoming an adult. This is her last summer to be a kid. A kid who's bio mom (BM) wasn't around. This is the last summer to be BM's daughter before Princess forgets about this woman. After this summer she's emancipated. Free to choose her Mom. Free to never call that woman again. Maybe she's realizing that and trying to eke one last bit of relationship with her knowing she'll probably avoid contact with her for the rest of her life.
    She's probably having a really hard time with this as well, and taking it out you. My friend Marianne West once gave me a bit of advice that I will never forget when it comes to teenagers.She said, "be emotionally available to your children. hear them when they need to be heard. and if they really need to talk to you, whatever you do, don't show any judgment.they're doing enough of it for themselves. just listen."
    I have no doubt that she will come home during the summer. Within the next few years your relationship with her will solidify into a wonderful friendship beyond parenting that said BM will never experience in a million years.Letting her go to the BM's for the summer shows an immense amount of compassion on your part. My kudos and best wishes.

  4. Christina-Marie, as a parent with only one, and he's about ready to leave the nest for good - after reading your post this verse from Fleetwood Mac came to mind:

    Well, Ive been afraid of changing
    cause Ive built my life around you
    But time makes you bolder
    Children get older
    Im getting older too

  5. Chin up girl!!!

    You have every right to feel the way you do but get a grip! Don’t take it out on Princess. She will NEED your strength now more than ever. Clearly, you have raised a strong, smart one there. She knows that it is important to find out who she is and where she came from. I’m sure, her journey this summer and beyond will not be easy. You got her this far and she knows that and will turn to you when she really needs her mother (aka…YOU!)

    Those “real” parents aren’t what they are cracked up to be, it just take us time to figure out what that means for us. Take it from someone who took 20 years to know I needed to be far FAR away from my Dad. Fast-forward another 20 years and the next daughter is now turning to me for answers on why Dad is an ass.

    Your Princess is just looking for her answers up close.

  6. Princess seems wise enough that she will see through her biomom and realize what you have given her all these years.

    You are brave and strong to let her go.

    Also, I love this blog, and am so glad you stopped by mine so I could find you here.

  7. Sheesh. I enabled comments for VGNO, and it didn't take long for the "anonymous" comments to start.

    Know this: I joyfully delete anonymous comments, and I do so without remorse. Everyone else has the balls to leave their name and URL and put a real face on their comments.

    Anyone who doesn't will not be participating in any dialogue on my blog.


No anonymous comments, please... Be loud 'n' proud, and leave your name!