Little Bear has a birthday coming up. This weekend he asked me exactly WHEN his birthday was, meaning of course, what time he was born. My husband was at work. Guess which adult in the house was NOT present at the time of his birth? …
There was a time where that very valid inquiry would have sent me slinking silently to my room with tears in my eyes. The constant reminders that we are not their mom are simply everywhere. That may be a childish statement, but it’s a real one, and one that we are allowed to feel. But what I want to do with this blog, to help counter the one about our craptacular perspectives, is this: I want you to know that a change in your perspective creates a place for you to be REAL, and there is NOTHING more satisfying than that.
I find myself at a place with LB where I could have done 1 of 3 things: I could have blown off his request to learn the time of his birth, keeping his birth mother out of the equation, telling him I would revisit the question and get back to him. I could have made him feel bad for asking, making him uncomfortable by showing him my feelings were hurt. Or, I could take the high road.
I chose to take the high road, not because I’m a saint, but because I have grown immensely due to the work I did on MYSELF. There no doubt was a time where I would have chosen some combination of the other 2 options. I never outwardly spoke poorly of her to him, but I believe sometimes it is in our purposeful omission of them and our obvious display of hurt feelings that we are passing the same message as if we were screaming in their face that ‘their mom doesn’t matter and we do’. I realize that may have struck a nerve with some of you. But I am at a point where I know I can only offer MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, not necessarily what I believe is a fit for each and every one of you.
I explained to him that he had a birth certificate. Each and every one of us does. It tells us who made us, where we were born and of course, what time. I went to our home office to retrieve it. I don’t often bring up BM to him. I could give you a thousand reasons why, but for the sake of keeping this to the point, I will tell you simply this. Mention of her sends him into a tailspin, and he gets very upset. She has made no efforts to alter her behavior or lifestyle for the better, and therefore we are awarded no insurance that should she come back into this life she won’t hurt him or endanger him. We are not at a point of constantly mentioning her to him or actively involving her in conversation, due to her lack of effort and attempts to fix her issues. This is upsetting to him and does more harm than good for the most part. We are however at a point where if he brings it up, we allow him to speak freely about the topic and remind him she loves him and he is allowed to feel any way he wants. On the very rare occasion that she does attempt to make contact (since we have no valid contact info to do it ourselves) we offer him the choice without persuasion.
Coming to a place where we can keep him safe from her destructive lifestyle while still allowing him to feel any way he wants was quite a feat. After all she had done to us, him, and everyone who walks in her path, my feelings toward her were sour…at best. But I have very strong feelings about how my relationship with LB can be altered SIMPLY by which path I take as the adult in the situation. So this weekend after the birthday question, I opened the floor for BM conversation. He has called her by her first name for years, sadly something she did to herself, another story for another time. I asked him why. He said because she wasn’t his mom and didn’t take care of him. There was a time where those words would have been extremely validating to me. But now I see them for what they really are – sad. They are sad.
So I nudged a little and asked if he thought he was not allowed to call her Mom or if he thought he was only allowed to have one mother. I asked if he believed I would be angry or hurt by him calling her Mom and assured him he can call her Mom if he wants to. I asked if she called him, would he want to speak with her. Most importantly, we had a thorough discussion regarding the fact that he would NOT hurt my feelings by telling me how HE felt, he was allowed to love everyone who loved him. I reminded him that she did love him just wasn’t quite taught how to take care of him. I told him that she loved him enough to make sure he had a safe and warm home forever and ever; ours. He responded pretty much how I figured he would based on how he usually does…he doesn’t want to talk to her and said he doesn’t think of her much at all. But the most important take-away that I wanted him to get out of this was that we want him to know he can feel ANYTHING he wants to feel. I told him I would always be a mommy to him because I love him and that’s what I chose, but I followed up with she is your mother and she does love you.
There was a time I would have never been able to choke that out. Again, I didn’t speak poorly of her to him, but I also didn’t take the extra step to remind him that she does care. Perhaps it was because I never believed it myself. Because I was only seeing things from my perspective. Since *I* love him, I behave accordingly. I wouldn’t dream of putting him in harm’s way, not keeping him adequately clean or fed. All while acting like parent of the year. It made me sick. THAT is NOT love.
Well, actually, in my opinion, having searched my soul deeply…that is not RESPONSIBLE…but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him. I believe now more than ever if she HAD the world to give him, she would. She is simply not stable enough in her life or her own mind to make such responsible choices for him. But that should never suggest she doesn’t love him. And who am I to say she doesn’t love him? In the past, she has chosen not to behave according to the law, any real moral compass, a standard of honesty….and certainly not in a responsible fashion. BUT that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him.
I realize my last blog was harsh and a bit heavy. Maybe it’s because from where I sit, I don’t know why on earth I spent SO LONG stuck in my own perspective. I see how PRODUCTIVE and PEACEFUL I am now that I’ve chosen to be more objective. And how DESTRUCTIVE and HATEFUL it was to take every single step with a ball and chain of emotion.The change this new perspective brought about in my family (simply realizing my way is not the only way and there may be other ways to look at it) has been monumental. I am often asked for advice on all different types of things. And I LOVE to help and I WANT to help, but I do believe the first questions I ALWAYS want to pose is….did you talk to them? What ELSE could be going on? How could YOU alter YOUR behavior to perhaps get the ball rolling in the right direction?
The other party is harassing you. They make everything Hell. They aren’t responsible. They waste time and money. They don’t care about the kids like they should. They blame you for everything. They never follow the rules. They….They…They.
Please believe me when I say I have felt all of these feelings. We lived in CONSTANT turmoil and here we sit with more than a year gone by since BM has even ATTEMPTED to see the child…and she STILL isn’t fulfilling her obligations. But I am no longer in a place where I want to see her ‘get hers’ for all that she did. Not because she doesn’t deserve it. But I believe in God and I believe in karma. She is in her circumstance today because she put herself there. It WILL happen. Maybe not on your timeline, but on the grand timeline…it’s coming. We ALL get what’s coming to us.
Today I am better able to look at things objectively because I have put in the work on ME that I needed to in order to be here writing this right now. It wasn’t because she made destructive decision after destructive decision. Missed milestone after milestone. Broke promise after promise. None of those things helped ME feel better about MYSELF or helped ME in my relationship with LB. If you do enough work on YOURSELF, when the other party drops the ball, you see that hurts THEIR relationship with the child. That is a SAD occurrence because it’s something the children we love have to endure. PLEASE don’t hear me saying you should be doing their job for them or you should feel bad for them. They are doing it to themselves, I totally agree. But it brings about the BEST point I can offer.
I have said this many times, but I mean it with all that I am – blowing out another’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter. This probably means many different things to many different people. Which I accept and respect. But for ME what this means is, we have to work on OURSELVES, we have to be the best we can be and constantly think of what WE can do to change and alter the scenario. Not for HER necessarily, but for the kids, for our families and for our OWN PEACE OF MIND. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Dealing with a difficult co-parent? Stop taking cheap shots, start TRYING to work together. They won’t reciprocate? Fine, but the kids are NOT stupid. They see one party behaving one way and the other party behaving the opposite and it brings about questions. Your WORDS don’t matter, your BEHAVIOR does.
I often get concerns about people in alienation situations. I may be a valuable resource because I am in your situation…just backwards. She accused us of alienating her often. She would swear up and down that he was taken from her and she did nothing wrong to get to where she is today. I have 2 things to say about that. First and foremost, I am not suggesting YOU deserve to be alienated, NO ONE DOES. But if you are being kept from your children, what steps are you taking to change it? Besides just tossing out ‘shout outs’ to your child on Facebook, or telling the social media world and ANYONE IN EARSHOT how your child is being kept from you…I challenge you to answer the very difficult question…what are YOU doing to change that? Second, there will come a time when the child learns the truth. Not YOUR truth, not THEIR truth, the WHOLE truth. It’s out there, it cannot be hidden forever.
And when it’s time to find that truth, where will you stand? There no doubt will come a day where LB wants to know more about BM and perhaps arrange a meeting. To be entirely honest? I hope that meeting is incredible for them both. I hope she puts in even HALF the amount of work on herself that we have for her sake AND LB’s. So she can OWN her mistakes and apologize to him, like we have. So she can see WHY things happened the way they did and take responsibility, like we have. And so she can be at a place where she can tell him he is allowed to feel anything he wants and love all the adults who love him, like we have.
Sadly, from a realistic perspective, that probably won’t happen. She is so intertwined in her own delusions about life and about her contributions to her own issues, that it is most likely she will try to enter back into his life with a fire inside her. But sadly, not a genuine fire, like their relationship deserves. A fire of illusion. Attempting to manipulate him, lying about what really happened, and trying to get him to see how she was the victim and was treated unfairly. All so she doesn’t have to LOOK INSIDE AND WORK ON HERSELF (do you see a pattern here?) I do NOT say that to take shots at her, again I am at a place where I see FACTS…my emotions don’t run me like they used to.
For those parents who are dealing with alienation on EITHER side of the fence, I have a big eye opening concept for you. Your behavior speaks, not your words. If she one day tries to say we wronged her, it won’t be the mountains of indisputable documentation that will serve to prove her statements inaccurate. It will be in our behavior. And hers as well. She has called to speak to him a total of 3 times in the past 15 months. We asked him all 3 times if he would like to speak to her and he refused. THREE (3) times. She asked for an address to send him a birthday gift …nearly a year ago….we received nothing. You see, if the time comes where their meeting is NOT genuine and she has NOT honestly assessed herself, she is going to be in for a rude awakening. Because he will remember days like this past Saturday, where I took the high road and always did, and he will remember her complete LACK of attempts to be in his life. Something won’t add up. The truth will then speak for itself. The questions will be posed from him, “What did YOU do to be in my life? What steps did YOU take to get better? My parents (DH and I) didn’t speak poorly of you, why are you speaking poorly of them? If this is the TRUTH, what did you do to expose it and make sure I knew it? You say you love me, but your actions do not match your words.” The obvious common denominator, she must look at herself, like we all must look at ourselves. A parent who is truly alienating cannot get away with it forever. It may seem like forever, but I guarantee, we ALL are held accountable one day. I choose to have a clean conscience on that day.
I guess the point in all this is that there is a MUCH larger picture than that which you are painting today. Becoming humble hearted from once a hateful heart took a lot of work ON MY PART. It wasn’t because she went away. It wasn’t because she continued/continues to mess up. It was because I MADE THE CHOICE to do the only thing I could do – focus my work inward, instead on what she was doing. I wish I had some blanket advice for each and every person who pours their aching heart out to me because they are so overwhelmed they can’t see they have more power than they realize. If you’re not doing work on yourself, when I said your perspective sucks, I meant it.
Stop talking. Start doing. From the bottom of my heart I assure you, you have so much more power than you realize if you simply TAKE your words and put them into motion. I am proud of myself for taking the high road and doing right by this child. HOWEVER, there is another very real option. Where I sit and talk sh*t about his mother. Where I lie about what happened, and I deny phone calls, and I tell him (or imply) that he can’t love her because I’M HIS MOTHER NOW. Does that sound familiar to any of you? Honestly, if I chose to take THAT route instead, it would NOT cement our relationship or ensure he never leaves my side and doesn’t seek his mother. And it WON’T mean that for YOUR child either. ONE DAY he would seek the truth, I guarantee it. And my behavior and yours WILL speak volumes. I can either hope to God he doesn’t find out that truth that I didn’t LOVE HIM ENOUGH to be SELFLESS or I can remove that concern entirely, and put in the work to form a genuine bond with him. That includes letting go of the anger, jealousy, fear and hurt associated with what the future may hold. I hope he grows to respect me because I didn’t take from him, instead I worked on me to GIVE to him.
It’s never too late. I believe that entirely. It is NEVER too late. I don’t care how much anger and animosity you think has accumulated, you CAN let it go if you CHOOSE to. Some people love living in their misery. You don’t have to be one of them. The plain and simple truth about perspectives is, it’s EASY to point the finger. It’s EASY to place the blame elsewhere and it’s even EASIER to do it when the other party is a nightmare. I am not suggesting you befriend the other party. BM and I have nothing in common. Her choices to me are heinous, to be gentle. However, she is a person, who bore the child I raise every single day. He deserves to know the truth (not MY version, not HER version) about her and to live in peace knowing even if she wasn’t offering the best of herself, he is still loved by all.
Before you blame the other party, look at yourself and think of what YOU can change. I am telling you, you will live completely overwhelmed and unsatisfied until you do. The other parent may NEVER change, but you don’t have to live like that. And I often talk about not giving up, or to keep on fighting…but the context of that is important. I would NEVER suggest you shouldn’t fight for that in which you are entitled to. You certainly should. But if you find yourself fighting in circles and not getting anywhere, I challenge you to think of what YOU could do differently. Many of you will read this and think I’m suggesting you to be a pushover, to give in, or to just keep the peace. No, I’m not. When you believe with all that you are that you are right, go for it. But do it for the RIGHT reasons. Not just to be ugly or to ‘win’. We kept LB safe because it was the RIGHT thing to do – not to show HER or ANYONE ELSE that we were right and she was wrong. We did it for him, not for us. Who are you fighting for? And more importantly, are you fighting fair? When you view ALL perspectives, you can answer that question truthfully and peacefully with a yes. I fight fair because I take into consideration all angles now, not just what *I* see. It is my sincere hope that you one day get there too.
I challenge you to TRY as hard as you can to step outside your own issues and see what it looks like as a whole. The reason I said to view this like the decision-makers is not because I believe they are right, or even doing what is best for the children. It simply forces to you see things objectively without a trail of emotion attached to it. When you shift your perspective from you ALONE to you PLUS EVERYONE ELSE, you have a power that all the others, with their “I’m always right” attitude will NEVER posses. It doesn’t matter if you have the tiniest issue or the most awful. Your emotion is clouding you. I guarantee it.