Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Raise Them And Then They Leave You!

 I miss my son.

He (Eli) moved away a little over a year ago to go live with his dad and stepmother 400 miles away in Santa Cruz, California. I let him go because he really really wanted to -- he was pretty miserable here, hating school, life and Los Angeles. I didn't want him to resent me for the rest of his life if I said no to his pleading sixteen year old self-- I wanted him to be happier so I reluctantly agreed. I agreed while being smothered with hugs and kisses and promises that we would "talk all the time" and email and video chat and visit and .... It didn't happen.

 I feel like I have been fired and it hurts like hell. I am now only allowed to call him "every seven days." Because he feels "pressured" if I call more often.  He is not an emailer, the video chats only happened twice in the whole year and I have not seen him now in almost four months. The empty nest sucks and I am not adjusting well . The irony of course is that during all those years single parenting him, I used to fantasize about the day that I would be "free." Let this be a wake up call to all of you out there craving that same freedom.

It is a was a way over-rated fantasy. Honestly, is a hobby and lots of " extra time for myself" supposed to in any way help fill up the empty hole that I feel inside? Am I feeling such sadness because this separation wasn't in the natural order of things? Would it have felt better somehow if he had left to go off to college at 18 like the norm?  Is this feeling simply a profound jealousy that his father and stepmother now have him all day every day and I don't? He apparently isn't missing me much at all and bottom line is that feels so awful.  And don't even get me started with how I feel about "them"-- (not such nice people I tell ya)-- or the fact that the kid is being "unschooled" meaning-- No School! No job, very few friends, no motivation,  no plan, no discipline. Just Eli out in the woods of Santa Cruz playing video games and getting "unpressured!"  But I digress-- 

I wanted to finish my job, the job that I had started. I raised him since he was born completely by myself. It was me and him against the world. (I even wrote my second book, The Single Mother's Survival Guide all about all my experiences raising him and my first children's book The Invisible String about the string I used to tell him about, when he would cry at the pre- school door as I dropped him off so I could go to work - (The string that connects all of us that love one another). Maybe this very closeness that we shared is the reason that he felt such a strong need to break free and be with the father that he only knew for a few weeks over summer and Christmas vacations all those years.  The father that I have heard a boy needs to bond with to fully grow up into a healthy man?  All I know is that I feel cut off and cut off way too early.  And the really sad thing is that he is still very unhappy, still having a really hard time- still filled with all that teenage angst. When your child is hurting and you can't even be there to comfort them, it is a powerless awful feeling. He is still struggling so much that I wonder if letting him go was all for naught.

Why does no one ever tell you (in a way that you can really truly hear) that you raise them and then they leave you?  I do remember being told by so many veteran parents years ago that you should "enjoy every wonderful/ miserable moment because you blink and they are gone!" But I guess I didn't really hear it. Maybe you just can't really hear it until it applies to you and by then it's way too late. Sure enough,  I blinked and he was gone.

I keep seeing mothers and their teenage sons walking around town and that old familiar giant lump in my throat swells up and I can't even call him to hear his beautiful changing voice, because my "seven day wait" isn't here yet. I covet all those mothers that have their acne faced, fabulous growing boys still around. I kind of like the idea of all the thousands of supposed  boy/men in Italy who never leave home and their moms still take care of them cooking, loving and laundrying them! Right now that sounds great. I know, I know-- I really do have issues!

 I love my dog, my stepdaughter, my husband ( today in that order!) But the fact is, the way that I feel in this moment, I would give them all up in heartbeat, to live with Eli again. Does that mean I was/am "enmeshed?" Do I really even give a sh-t what you call it? Not so much.

 I simply don't know how to deal with the sorrow, the ache inside, of driving past all the places that  make up my mothering history. The old places we used to live, the restaurants we went to, the parks and the schools.  It is a death of sorts and the mourning is fresh and seemingly not getting any better. And yet ( and OF COURSE I am grateful for this) he is okay. He just chose not to live with me anymore. And that is one huge Ouch.

 Is  their something wrong with me that it is now a full year later and I feel just as heartbroken as the day I saw him and his dad ( who I divorced when Eli was 3 months old) driving off in the truck with all of Eli's stuff? Or am I just a momma lion who, like all momma lions,  love their off spring fiercely-- maybe too fiercely? I want my boy to be happy and I don't know how to help him from so far away -- that makes me feel pretty helpless on my end.

Nobody that I know really wants to hear about this anymore, maybe they just don't know what to say... I can't say that I blame them. I know that I sound like a whining, sniveling, despondent character around all of this. Guess that's why I needed to blog about it. I had to tell someone-- someone kind, someone that would listen.  Today that kind someone  is you. Thank you for being there. For being here.

 And in the one- in -a -million chance that you ever read this, my son, I love you more than you will ever know. I miss you. Today the "string" doesn't feel like enough, so-- call your mother! 

Just Love,

Eli's mom


Michael said...

Dear Patrice Karst,

My name is Michael, I'm 17 and I go to school and live in Hong Kong. I read your entire post and I feel incredibly heartbroken with you now.

Much like Eli, I am the son of a messy divorce too, however, my mother is the one that has formal custody of me. I don't live with either parent, I live with my mother's parents. So I can understand the mother-son separation thing a little bit.

I feel very guilty sometimes when I never see my parents on a regular basis. I am very sure Eli will regret it one day, because there really is a certain powerful quality to maternal love. No man would ever be the man they were without their mother and please trust me when I say that one day, things will change.

I think it's absolutely wonderful that you donate your life to writing self-help books for people in the same position you were/are in. Just have faith in the being you unleashed into this world and one day you'll get what you deserve, because you just have to remember that he's happier now comparatively with the old life he had in LA where he hated everything.

How do you deal with the ache? You can't. You live with the pain, carry it with you. Sure, it hurts, but emotional pain is something that you can't control until it's relieved and in this case, it can only be relieved with a phone-call from your son.

But in the meantime, you strive through it. You work your ass off, lend your heart to your dog, you stepdaughter and your husband and you keep on improving your career, your family and yourself. You just live with it, even if it makes you so angry, or so confused, or so sad.

It's just... you can't sit and mope.


It's funny how I began this with the intention to just show some caring words. I guess I was talking to myself in a way 'cause I was sort of sitting and moping.

Sorry. I don't mean to be all reflective and ranty here. But um. Yeah. Hope you're feeling better since you made this entry.

I'll be following you. You have a great 'realness' to your character I really appreciate. Nice looking out.

That's all from me,

patrice karst said...

Bless you Michael!

What a doll you are. Your comment made my day.

Hugs to you in Hong Kong!

Just Love!


MilesPerHour said...

Patrice, this is the first chance I have gotten to read your post and plan to follow you from now on.

I put my parents through this twice. The first time I left home and then after I left my home state. The second was as difficult for her as the first cuz I had recently gotten sober at the time and she was unable to enjoy the sober son after so many years of trials. But I had to make my way and have accomplished so much in the last 17 years of sobriety and both of my parents are proud.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

Hi Patrice, Isn't Michael a gem? I have read now several of his posts and comments on different blogs. For a young person he already understands so much about life.

I have been in the same situations as both of you, although I have been the deserting or the deserted parent for one reason or another. I have discovered one thing in my time that the guilt was not all one-sided.

But, I have come to understand and important fact of life. Once birds learn to fly, they leave the nest. Some birds fly earlier than others, or think they can fly; and therefore leave, maybe prematurely. We can't stop that, we can counsel against it, but we can't stop it. If we try, we become the ogre.

When Eli needs you, he will find you, be assured.


patrice karst said...

Ah you beautiful people thank you from this mom who now feels a whole lot better just being able to share here. Hugs to you!


E. Michelle said...

Hi Patrice,

I am so sorry you are going through this! I feel that everything we go through in life is a lesson of sorts so I pray that you can find your higher message through this tough time. It has been my experience that if I just "feel" my emotions deeply they pass much more quickly and i am able to understand the message a lot sooner. I hope this helps!
E. Michelle

patrice karst said...

Thanks E,

This blog was most cathartic towrite and responses like yours keep me writing and navigating my way.

Blessings to you,


My Little Stories said...

You expressed your feelings beautifully in writing and I believe you express your love to your son well. One day, he's going to realize the power of a mother's love. Believe me, he'll come back... with more love for you.

My Little Stories said...

You expressed your feelings beautifully in writing and I believe you express your love to your son well. One day, he's going to realize the power of a mother's love. Believe me, he'll come back... with more love for you.

patrice karst said...

Hey My Little Stories,

From your mouth to God's ears-- Thanks for chiming in with your loving words.