Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Enabling, Protecting, and Resenting the Single-Parent Feeling

Following up on my last post, I can say that there's no way I'd let H live with her natural father. No, it would not be the best thing for her...for all sorts of reasons. She'd feel like I gave up on her, she'd feel like an outsider moving in to her Dad's "re-made" family, and ultimately, it would absolutely break my heart to be apart from my child. Like a piece of me floating out in the unknown, afraid and hurt, and feeling abandoned by the one person who'd been the constant factor in her life. It will never happen, and I'm ashamed for even thinking of it.

That said, after our incident last week, I talked with a neighbor, who happens to be a counselor at our university, and he offered some extremely helpful insight into our situation. He gave sound advice for a two-prong approach to helping H devlelop an internal motivation for making the changes that are needed for both her academic success and her emotional development (not to mention her relationship with me). The first step is to establish one of her school counselors as H's "Coach"...kind of like a life coach, except this will be to keep her on the right academic path. This might include having her stay after school for the study sessions that are offered 3 times a week, rather than having me help her with homework. The second step is to get her into counseling with someone who works with kids. We have a person in Doha who has many years of experience (in the US and here), and we've met her before. I like her a great deal, and I think she could have a lot to offer Hannah.

It's a fine line that I'm walking between wanting desperately to help Hannah stay organized, be successful in her academic work, maintain healthy friendships, and protect her from the nasty bullies that live in our compound and make their rounds at her school AND resenting the fact that I feel like my ex-husband is getting out of all this shit scot-free! He doesn't have to fight, argue, negotiate, and battle with Hannah over homework, clothes, time on the TV, her attitude, etc. He's living the farm life on the fucking Ponderosa, and I'm left with the hard ass work that is parenting a child (one with ADHD at that)! While Hubby is wonderful about being a co-parent, when it comes to Hannah, she very often will only "deal" with me. She prefers me to help her with homework, she looks to me for the "final word" on house rules, and it's me that she pushes to the edge with her backtalk and attitude. It's a dynamic between her and I that, I'm afraid, will turn into something toxic over the next couple years. Even more importantly, I'm terrified of the decisions she might make as a result of that dynamic.

At the end of the day, I'm doing the best I can, but I always feel like it's never enough.


M said...

You're not going crazy. You're not. Also, for what it's worth, I don't think you have any reason to feel ashamed for wondering if H would be better off with her biological father. I think having H do her homework with someone other than you is a great idea.

As for Hubby, I thought something as I read this. I'm not sure you're angry with him as much as you're angry with H and with yourself. I've seen him interact with H, and I know how much they love each other. But I also know that H has found it hard to see him as an authority figure (not from anything I've witnessed, but from things you've said). Is it possible that you've wanted to protect the feelings H has for Hubby, so rather than encourage her to "deal" with him you've taken on all the "dirty" work? H will, after all, always love you b/c your her mother and you've always been there for her. Hubby is fairly new on the scene--at least in the last few years. While he's a great dad, H could easily accuse him of being mean or whatever since he's "not her father."

I'm sorry if I've overstepped some boundaries in our friendship. This is how my sister felt with her second husband, and her desire to protect the relationship her kids have with their stepdad has done some serious harm to their marriage as she now feels very much like what you described--like she's in it alone even though she has a partner.

Hang in there. It will get better. And doing the best is all we can do, and I have to believe it is enough.

Lisa Dunick said...

your last line-- It's the perpetual feeling of motherhood. You're not alone.

AcadeMama said...

M: I think you're really onto something. Sometimes I'm conscious of "protecting" H from sticky dealings with Hubby, and sometimes I think I do it without even realizing it. It's definitely an issue I need to work on: letting him the a parent to her and, hopefully, showing her that he has just as much responsibility and authority as I do. It's so very hard, though, because of my own baggage and history with my father, who was verbally and emotionally abusive.

Intlxpatr said...

AcadeMama, I am so sorry to tell you this, but I was Hannah to my Mother, and I didn't even have the excuse of ADHD. It started around ten, and it was probably those hormones starting to wreak havok in my life, but I was a roller coaster and I created drama for everyone around me. It took me forever to even out. By the grace of God, my Mother put up with me. I turned out OK. Eventually. (sigh of relief)

I love the idea of her having a coach at school. Any other adults you can bring in to dilute your having to deal with all this alone? A study-buddy neighbor? Someone willing to take her on special shopping trips or something?

My bet is she is really, really smart; they can make the most difficult kids. And I wonder what you were like at her age ?