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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/571131-Situation
Rated: 13+ · Book · Experience · #940786
What's on my mind....
#571131 added March 2, 2008 at 6:34pm
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The other evening, my son phoned me to ask my advice on how to handle what turned out to be a sensitive matter and one very close to his heart. His dilemma was indeed a delicate one, but one close to my own heart.

My son is dating a young woman who is the single mother of a five-year-old son, a kindergartener. They all live in another state, so I don’t see them very often, but I have met and interacted with the girlfriend and the child, who I found to be very enjoyable people. My son is in love with both of them.

The little boy has a father whom he sees and spends time with, but because he and his mother live with my son, the majority of his immediate needs, including those that relate to his education are met by his mother and might-as-well-be “step-father”. Last Father's Day, when asked if he'd phoned his father to wish him a happy day, the child responded, "No, but I called Mike." Mike is my son.

Mike's concern that evening was that it was eight o’clock, a school night, and the child was still at the babysitter's even though his mother was at home. He said that it was beginning to bother him that the child is left in the care of other people so often, especially at times when it wasn’t necessary that he be away from home. He went on to say that some of those people aren’t, in his opinion, the best influences on the boy. And then, his natural father has other children by at least one other woman, who are there with him during the boy's visitations, so it he isn't getting the full benefit of being iwth his father, and again, he's picking up questionable habits from the other kids.

There have been some problems with the boy’s behavior at school, which Mike said he feels are a direct result of the amount of time that his mother is not spending with him. When he’s not working, Mike keeps the boy because he feels that at home with one of them is where he should be. The entire time I'm listening, I’m trying to stay neutral in my thinking, but I can vouch for that last thing. Many is the time that Mike’s been off from work and called me just to check in, and the boy is in the background, playing with the dog, one of his toys, or reading. When his mother is home, but gets the opportunity to leave him with someone else, Mike said, she does.

He was looking to me for advice on how to handle the situation. He didn’t want it to become an argument or a point of contention, but he said the situation was beginning to get on his nerves. He said that he cares for her, wants a future with her, and that she’s a fine person otherwise, but that when he looks at how she’s raising her son in comparison to how he was raised, it was giving him pause for concern.

I tried to be as supportive as I could, but the woman, the mother, and the educator in me were screaming, “When people show you who they are, baby, believe them.”

The truth in that statement slapped me hard on both cheeks when a wise friend once said it to me when I was trying to figure out a problem I was having with someone I loved. People can tell you anything, but it’s what they do that makes all the difference.

I explained to my son that he was in a precarious position since he wasn’t the boy’s father, and technically he wasn’t really even the step-father. Also, he came into the child’s life when he was three, so that pattern of leaving the child around had probably already been established.

In fact, the first time I met the boy was when I had gone home for a visit, and Mike came by to see me. He and the girl hadn’t been dating that long, but Mike had the little boy with him because she was at work. She comes from a large family that I get the impression makes my son nervous for some reason. Without going into any great detail, (and I didn’t’ solicit any) he has expressed to me that her people like him and want to include him, but he doesn’t enjoy spending time with them because, “they don’t operate in the way I do.”

Now this is not a shy young man, a prude, or a stick in the mud by any stretch of the imagination. He is outgoing and for the most part, a people-person, but he is also the most principled of my sons when it comes to doing things the way they should be done and keeping the details of his life as uncomplicated as possible. Thisthing with the little boy is a dilemma that I don’t think he’s going to find the answers he needs anywhere but inside himself.

Taking example from my own parents and my treasured in-laws, I try hard to stay out of my children’s personal lives. They are adults now, capable of handling their own affairs. Even when they come to me for advice or to vent about a relationship matter, I have to concentrate on staying unbiased, on holding my tongue. I steer away from offering opinions; instead I try to turn the picture they’ve painted to an angle that will allow them to take a more objective look at the details, which is what I did with him.

The situation was one that existed before he came onbaord. I told him as kindly as I could that there wasn’t a lot he was going to be able to do about it because ultimately that is her child. She comes from what she comes from, just as he is a product of his upbringing. How she does things, sees things, is not anything that he can change. At twenty-five, twenty-six years of age, it is what it is.

What I did pont out to him was, knowing what he now knows, having a child of his own with her was something he needed to carefully consider. Living together as they do, a baby, accidental or on purpose, is a possibility that needs to be faced. I don’t know their personal business, nor do I want to know, but no method of birth control is 100%, and a tender-moment decision is a helluva thing to have a baby by. If he’s taking issue with how she’s raising a child that isn’t his, what kind of problems might that set up for them should they become parents of a child together?

I laid it out for him that when we get involved with people, a lot of times we fail to consider the larger picture: the family dynamics, the differences in upbringing, the personal beliefs the two people share or don’t share, the values the other person considers important, all important factors that need to be taken into account up front before commitments are made. Many times we get sidetracked by what we see at first, those things on the surface, the personal appearance, the initial attraction, the laughter and good times, the- let’s face it- lust, and it isn’t until later, sometimes too late, that the person “shows who they really are”. And even then, we sometimes either don’t see it, or we go into denial about what we see because to acknowledge it would be to acknowledge that it isn’t going to work. My conversation with my son left {[b}me reflection on how much I wished someone had sat me down and explained that all to me, in those terms, back in the day.

In the end, I don’t know if I was able to help him any. I don’t know if it’s something that he and his girl will be able to overcome. I was never one for leaving my kids around when I was raising them. I can remember the lonely, frustrated days stuck at home with them or with them trailing behind me as I went about my daily affairs, declining invitations for lunch, to meet up, to shop or to hang out, etc. with my girlfriends. I can recall enjoying going to work because that was my only real opportunity for adult conversation and interaction other than that with my husband, and even that had become limited during that time of our lives. But at the time, I did what I thought I was supposed to be doing for the children I chose to bring into the world. They were mine, and when they were little, I could only be sure of what was going on with them when they were with me. One of the things Mike said in the course of our talk was that he can remember that I was at home with them, and they were with me, not the babysitter. For some reason, it felt good that he could recall that, and that it seemed to mean a lot to him as an adult and would-be parent.

If they can’t work it out, I hope that Mike can see that perhaps the best thing to do for himself is to walk away. That will be hard since he has become so attached to the boy and the boy to him, but if it’s going to be a point of contention between him and the mother, where they’re arguing and fighting over the child, then the best thing he can do for all of them is to let it go. As long as he keeps the situation as uncomplicated as it is at present, he has the power of choice, although if it comes to parting ways, a painful one.

Thinking on it these past few days, I was began to reflect on myself and my own personal evolution in the years past. Things were done differently back when I was a young person, just coming along. It was as if adults were afraid to tell you the things you should have been told. As if the people who should have been talking knew that if they spoke the truth, they'd scare us off the idea of marrying anyone or of procreating within the 'sanctity' of a marriage.

Thus, it took a while for me to see things for what they are in my life. It took me too long to get it, but I learned that I can’t change what was in place before I got here. All I can do now is deal with the things I have to, on {b{my terms, and choose to ignore/ omit from my life that which I’m not going to deal with all.

Very few of us, especially the girls, were taught that we had the option of just leaving it alone or of walking away before we complicated our lives to the point of not being able to easily extricate ourselves.

If asked, I am determined that young people be better educated about not cutting corners on the things that matter to them and about living on their own terms. Life has stones that it will throw from time to time. If they can been seen coming, one has a better chance of either dodging them completely or putting up the proper defense to keep from being mortally wounded.

© Copyright 2008 thea marie (UN: dmariemason at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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