Tuesday, February 06, 2007


A week or so ago, Sharon was more or less fretting over her daughter. Today, its my turn. Actually, I don't think I ever not fret over one of my kids at any given time, but one in particular takes up the most worry time.

I'm talking about my 23 year old son, who barely made it through high school, had absolutely no interest in college, and still does not have a full-time job. He has more excuses than words in the dictionary why he can't get a job. This week, its because of the cold. After all, why would he want to go out in this stuff to look for a job? Why indeed? I guess only if he wanted to eat or have his own place to live or his own car. Just the simple things in life.

A couple of years ago, when I could see he wasn't going to motivate himself, and I couldn't seem to do it either, to look for a job, an unbelievable opportunity came up for him to have a job and a place to live if he moved to Montana. He hesitated for months, until finally I told him I'd drive him out there myself if he would just get out of his dad's house and have a life. The only stipulation was he was not coming back unless he paid his own way. He agreed, we packed him up, and along with his dog, my sister and I drove him out west.

That venture lasted almost a year, and then he messed up, once again, and ended up with no job and no place to live. Oh, and no money of course too. This time, his dad bailed him out by driving out and picking him up and bringing him back to GR. He knew I wasn't going to do it.

Since he's been back in late August, he still has not managed to find--or even look for--a full-time job. He does temp work occasionally, like, when the spirit moves him apparently. He's not living with me, and I have chosen to not worry about it most of the time.

When his dad and I went through our divorce several years ago, Aaron was still young enough to be in school. I chose to move away from the rural area where we lived because that town was too small for the both of us. I moved back to Grand Rapids for financial and convenience reasons. He chose to stay with his dad so he could continue in the same school district. While I was not happy with this outcome, these things happen a lot of the times when boys are older and there is a divorce. I was reassured by many that this would work out. From my relationship and experience with his dad, I should have known better.

Things went down hill quickly for him, and while I realize he made bad choices and had poor judgment, I always felt a lot of guilt over the situation. He certainly did not have a good male role model, after all. He dropped out of high school--rather, he skipped so often there was no way he would graduate on time. With my nagging and encouragement, he finally did go back and get his GED a couple of years later. But he still continued living in his dad's shadow. I realized in part that with the genes he inherited, he wasn't going to do anything on his own. Not that he isn't willing to work. Its just that he lives in a dreamworld, like his dad, of what he is going to do with his life, which up until now has been nothing. If someone were to give him a million dollars, a place to live, a free car, and a job, he would maybe manage to survive in this world.

So, what does a mother do with a situation like this? How much more can I or should I do? I have sought help and answers from many sources, but so far nothing has clicked. Why? Because I know he has to want to do something for himself. I consider it a case of arrested development. I have tried to get him to seek counseling, but after a couple of visits, "I'm not going back there. What for?" And, I can't make him go, much as I would like to.

For the most part, my other kids have turned out okay. So what's the answer here? I wish I knew. Today was another example of his dependence on everyone else to get him through life. He called me last night to see if I could give him a ride to one of his jobs, since he didn't have another ride. I suggested many alternatives, but of course those met with opposition. I don't mind helping him out, but I don't want to continue being an enabler. Again, what do you do when the choice is for him to work or not work? Believe me, I have spent many a sleepless night worrying about this kid. I try not to blame myself for everything--he does have choices to make, I know. But I can't help feel that somewhere along the line I failed him, and wish I could help him figure out how to get his life on track.

The problem today was with the traffic and roads the way they are, and likely will continue to be for a few more days, its slow going, and no matter how much time you think you'll need, it still takes longer. So of course, I am ranting some and did at him too and gave him my usual lecture about needing to get a job, get his car running, and get on with his life and stop expecting everyone to help him out all the time. Again, excuses, excuses, excuses.

So I am angry about the situation, and realize I am partly to blame, and angry at him as well, and angry I had to drive an extra hour in white knuckle driving conditions to get him to where he needed to go. And I'm not sure he will ever appreciate any of this. I guess what gets me the most is while he complains about never having any money or being able to go anywhere, he isn't motivated enough to get out the door. Any ideas or answers out there?? Should I just let him worry about himself and write him off? Eventually, I know I will have to do that. I keep reminding him of my recent accident and what if--what if something happened to either me or his dad? (Not that I support him financially, but obviously he has that safety net of someone being there just in case.)

On a weather note: -12 actual. I wonder how low the temperature will get before hell freezes over??

On a workout note: weights, 15 pushups, and 2 mile run. And of course I had to go to the gym an extra hour early because of all this too!


Fe-lady said...

Wow...where to begin. First of all I guess it's good to know that I am not the only mom going through this. I have had to push my daughter (20) to drive, get jobs, help out at home, etc. etc. It's the "entitlement" generation-and there are many of these kids "out there" sitting back and allowing their parents to take care of them.
I too am guilty of too much care-giving-but it's what we do. It's my nature-and I come from a smothering family who wouldnl't have allowed me to grow up and be on my own had I not moved 2000 miles away. My 48 and 49 year old sisters are still "taken care of" by my mom to a certain degree...(altho they are/were married and have kids of their own).
Just keep remembering that he is an adult and "tough love" works sometimes. He may never really appreciate all you have done and are doing until he is much older.
And if he has inherited the genes that my daughter inherited from her dad (basically the lazy/unmotivated/ "I'd rather sleep and watch TV gene") well, then there is not much you can do.
"Dad" has a part in this too, so don't blame yourself!
I think most kids "wake up" sometime-but as long as he has someone providing a roof over his head and food to eat, then there isn't much for him to work towards-right? All I know is that I couldn't WAIT to be outon my own earning my own $$$ so I wouldn't burden my parents anymore...what has happened to that young adult?
Anyway....I am rambling...this should have been a phonecall!
Hang in there-the cold will eventually go away and Aaron will eventually grow up...or he won't...but don't let his stuff get in the way of you living your life the way you need to!
(I won't tell you how warm it's going to be here today.....!)

TxSkatemom said...

as the mom of an 11 yo and a 6 yo, I have no words of wisdom, but I can tell by reading just this short entry that you've done your due diligence, and really it's up to him now. If you can help out where it's not an inconvenience (and nothing in -12 is NOT an inconvenience, in my mind!) then that seems OK, but at some point, tough love is the only thing you can do. I wish i had more helpful advice. All I can offer is virtual hugs!

Flo said...

First off I echo both these ladies, you've done all you can, do not feel guilty. Unfortunately, I have no words of wisdom either. We went through this with my stepson and that was harder because I couldn't really say anything. He moved to Hawaii and lived with us and did not leave the house for 3 months. I finally blew, gave him a deadline to get out and refused to do anything for him. He finally got a job and place to live but ended up moving back to California because it was too hard to make it here. Yeah, too hard, you actually have to work. Apparently now he's doing okay so there is hope out there. Good luck and if you need to vent we are always here :)

sharon said...

Oh Vickie I'm sorry about your son's situation. I think we ALL tend to blame ourselves too much when our kids make bad choices. Have you noticed the popularity now of that phrase? "Bad choices"? I guess it's the politically correct way of saying My kid screwed up big time. The success of your other kids proves it's not you. It's him and only him. One of my biggest decisions I face with my daughters is how much to do for them. Part of me feels that if I don't "help them" I'm a bad mother not doing my job. Yet it's also our job to teach them independence and responsibility sometimes while painfully watching them sink instead of swim. I would think it would be very difficult to just let it go and not worry. We mother's never stop worrying huh. Sorry you have to worry so much.

I haven't had time to look at the blogs since last Thurs and read about your race. You had a GREAT run. Congratulations. I don't know if I could manage to run in the conditions you are dealing with. You deserve a gold medal just for getting out there.