Can We Ever Completely Give Up on Our Children?

Being a parent is a hard job, even when our children become adults. It isn’t a part of your life that you can retire from doing. Instead, parenting becomes a different enterprise as our children age and the ability to influence their decision-making processes diminishes. This is particularly true for mothers, and I can only write from the perspective of a mother, as I never had a father in my life and I have no idea what fathers think.

A couple of weeks back, my oldest daughter and oldest son attended a funeral for one of our cousins. I chose not to go with them, mainly because I am a tee-totaler and my presence tends to inhibit my children from enjoying themselves. As so often happens when alcohol is added to the mix in my family, drama occurred and I was asked to choose a side. I had advised them my daughter not to attend the service together, but, as they are both over age 50, I couldn’t demand anything of them. Yet even I didn’t expect the situation to dissolve into total insanity. Thankfully, I stayed home!

Now, my son and I are estranged, and the other three siblings tell me to just “let him go.” But, can we ever completely release our sense of responsibility for our children? Is it possible to simply pretend that they are no longer in the world that we inhabit? Can anything truly separate us from these human beings whom we have loved since before they even knew themselves?

I sent him a text to say that I would always love him, and that nothing he ever could do would make me stop loving him. I adopted him and his three siblings when I was age 21, and admittedly, there were times when I had no idea what I was doing.

This particular child was age 3 when his mother, my only sibling, died, and having been ill most of his infancy, he was attached to her much more than the other three children and I believe felt her loss more. He had learning problems in school which led to disciplinary problems that meant I spent a lot of time in the various principals’ offices.

In hindsight, I wish that I had known to get grief couseling for all four of them at some point, but I just didn’t even know it existed. I also look back and think that I should have advocated for more help for him in reading, but I worked often 12 hours a day on weekdays and 16 hours a day on weekends to keep us in a middle-class lifestyle, as none of the fathers paid any child support. As a single parent, I did my best to let them know that they were the apples of my eyes.

This abyss between him and me hurts me deeply, and even before this latest debacle, he had started introducing me as his aunt, not as his mother like always before. As they have gotten older, only one of the four still refer to me as their mother, but the other two often express gratitude for the sacrifices I made to raise them, which gives me comfort and peace. But, aunt or mother, I will never give up on any of them, and my prayer to God is that they know this to be true, even in our estrangement. Parenting is hard work!

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