Author Topic: Relating to other parents  (Read 2941 times)

canadiangirl

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Relating to other parents
« on: May 03, 2015, 12:20:02 PM »
I am just home from a brunch with a couple of other moms (I have help this a.m. from out of town), and I am feeling down in a way I think many other young widowed parents may get.  It is not a pretty emotion but I feel envious of my friends with spouses. I also feel some resentment, to be honest. I am just trying to get through each day still, 16 months out, and we're just not in the same places.

Specifically, our elementary school teachers are in strike position and I mentioned how screwed I will be if the schools are closed due to the strike.  It was indelicate of me because one of my friend's husbands is an elementary school teacher, but she turned to me and said we will all be in the same boat if a strike happens (and this looks likely).  She meant it encouragingly but...actually we will not be affected the same way. Her husband will be off (although sometimes on the line and not paid).  Her family is in town. 

Later in the same conversation, we spoke about holidays, and I was asked if I would have any time with my child, just one on one (my 10-day summer vacation this year will be with both my child and parents, which I am now hesitating about).  Well, no, I have finite leave, so no, this is it. Third, part of what I am struggling with is the reliance I have on my parents when they are able to be in town, and how close with them my child is (I know I am lucky with this).  I am worried something will happen to my parents and my child will be just devastated--another loss.  The same friend said, put it out of your mind, they will have 5, 10 years, he will be older.  In a conversation killer, I said well, I am not catastrophizing, unfortunately people drop dead- that is what I fear.  You can tell I was not exactly a beacon of light today.

We just have a different frame of reference from others.  I wonder why life throws punches at many here while others coast.   I honestly do often count my many blessings and generally I suck it up (although today not so well, obviously), but sometimes I struggle talking to other parents because of the envy I described and the downer I feel I represent.  We can put a positive spin on things and pretend our challenges are the same as everyone else's but it isn't exactly authentic.  We were making small talk about vacations when inside my head I am thinking about my dead husband, his estate, how I long for signs from him, and how the centrepiece of my vacation will be spreading his ashes.  Some days like today I just want to walk away from all friends and shut myself off because it is exhausting being with people who do not understand.  Yet these are good and caring friends.  Anyone get it?

Kestrel

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2015, 11:02:58 PM »
I totally get it. I'm 9 years out and I am still living in an alternate universe from all the couples out there. I can quote you how many kids have a parent die before they graduate high school (it's 5%). I'm not a ray of sunshine. Friends that I had from before dh's death, don't really understand, or for some of them, tried and have given up trying to understand why I have changed. The death of someone so close to you that they are a part of you, must change your outlook on life (and death). I seem to get a long better with people who I've met since dh's passing. They don't bring up dh. They haven't seen a change in me. So, everything's hunky dory. For those people who have seen a change, it's probably uncomfortable for them to see the after effects of losing a spouse. They don't want to admit that the same thing could happen to them. So, because I've changed, I must be doing something wrong. I should be back to who I was before, but that person is long gone.

mo12

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2015, 11:24:00 PM »
Yep, I get it.  I don't have the energy to elaborate tonight (case in point) but, I get it!

Lost35

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2015, 12:12:29 AM »
It is yet another skill we must learn, to handle conversations and situations when life is just so vastly different from one person to the next.  I live in a town where a great many fathers work out of town or out of province.  I know what that lifestyle is like from previous experience, however it is very difficult to find a way to empathize when other mom's complain about how little help they get.  Actually, I have little problem empathizing with this but can't find a way to do so when they complain about their spouses being home for extended periods.

I often feel like I'm standing outside the kindergarten doors in a flaming pink Mumu with purple feather boas and my hair on fire.  Not really, but you get the idea.  I just don't fit in. 

There are many times when I see the downside of this, but also occasionally I see the upside.  I never let negative moments with my son linger.  We fix problems immediately.  I tell him I love him randomly and he does the same.  I cherish every second because you really don't ever know...

I'm shocked at the 5% calculation.  It this really accurate?  I only knew two people in my school life who's mothers died.  Perhaps it is.  How sad.  I worry so much about my not surviving my son's childhood...perhaps the statistics for children who lose both parents independently are so small that I can keep that in the back of my mind for when the fears creep in...

Regardless,  you are not alone. 

Take care,

-L.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 12:33:36 AM by Lost35 »

Trying

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015, 02:32:42 AM »
I find with other parents who aren't close friends they either awkwardly avoid conversations and look at me with guilt and pity if they complain about their husbands or about juggling kids schedules with 2 parents or they totally don't get that my life is very different than theirs.  Either way, it's usually uncomfortable.  In the beginning I spent so much time avoiding people that I probably made it worse.  Now there are times I feel bad for how awkward I make others feel.  It's not their fault that they don't get it, they are lucky, just like I used to be. That doesn't mean that there aren't still times I want to dump a latte over someone's head!
You will forever be my always.

Virgo

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2015, 07:26:27 AM »
"My husband has been away on a business trip for a week. The kids are driving me crazy. Now I know how you feel." Yes, because being able to share your daily frustrations with your husband every day by phone, text, or skype for a week is the same as never having any contact with him ever again.

Yes I get it! It's hard when it's blatantly pointed out to us, but for the most part it's better for our mental health not to compare situations. No one can fully understand until they are in the same situation.
Jen

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss

canadiangirl

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 02:34:17 AM »
Thanks so much for responding.  It helps to know others sometimes feel the same way.  Totally agree best not to compare for the sake of mental health!  Having a weak moment.  Widowhood can be so isolating, but what is interesting to me is I have to actively fight against the urge to become even more isolated by pushing people totally away.  My kid needs friends, and this is often the biggest driver for me to remain socially connected.  Otherwise, the desire to hermit is becoming pretty strong.

((Virgo)) ((kestrel)) ((Trying)) ((Lost35)) ((mo12))

iloveyoualways

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 03:19:45 AM »
Canadiangirl, I can relate so much. If it wasn't for my young son I would be a hermit, or dead. I feel so isolated from other parents. I have wanted to write about it for almost four years.

We just bought a home and I lost a pregnancy all within six months of my husband dying unexpectedly. Our son was very young. I can't talk about buying homes as we lost ours. I can't talk about babies as that time has passed,  :'( . I can't talk about vacations as we can't afford one.

I feel so isolated. Last week the husband of someone who sent us a "death casserole" asked why my son attends one school and lives in another district. I almost said that we lost our home after my husband died but I decided to answer differently.

Even the "single parents" have time away from the children when the other parent has them. I had not gone out at night in over three years as I have no support, as many here know the reality of widowhood. So I don't run and work out like the other mothers do. I look run down and plain old as I have the job of two parents. But that other person is gone forever and we are left with the psychological pain in addition to feeling like social isolation is easier that any relation with others as they can't relate to us either.

I have also seen the 5 percent stat. I got that from Statistics Canada.

 Solidarity to my wid sisters who are mothers or fathers.

TooSoon

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2015, 11:34:50 AM »
I get it, CG.  I so get it. 

Certain people have, from the start, treated me like a normal human being.  In general, they are Moms I knew growing up here whose children now go to the same school as mine and people who were close to us through the cancer battle.  But the other suburban moms?  Forget it.  Very few of them work so there's that.  We spent a summer at our neighborhood pool being actively ignored and talked about and that's when I just decided I'm not going to play that game.  The room mothers for M's class WILL NOT engage with me.  One of them makes her husband do it and the other, who is married to someone I grew up with, simply cannot deal with me, can't make eye contact.  Whatever. 

People do not get it, especially in this stage of life where "perfect" domesticity is the ideal and nonconformity some sort of scary threat.  Honestly, I hadn't anticipated this but over time, like I said, I've managed to identify a handful of people and seek them out at school events or swim team meets or school concerts.  Over time, as with everything else, it no longer gets under my skin as much and its all easier to just roll my eyes or ignore. 

Sending all my support!  (and happy birthday!  :) )
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 12:12:47 PM by TooSoon »

luvmy2babies

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2015, 01:46:10 PM »
I get it.  In a lot of ways because not only do most of my children?s friends have spouses, they almost never have a child the same age as my younger one.  So while others are looking forward to high school and beyond, my child is just starting Kindergarten this fall and I?m doing this by myself.  I very often feel like I don?t fit in even though I know several widows at my church.  One lost her husband when her daughter was 8.  I was pregnant then with my daughter so it was 12 years ago and her daughter is an adult now.  One was very young with no children and is engaged to remarry now.  Another was a bit younger than me and didn?t have children but wanted them. 

Where I frequent though is where my children go and especially ever since I put my daughter in a charter school in a neighboring city I have felt it even more.  We have to volunteer a certain number of hours at school and it?s 20; so I figured okay, 2 hours a month isn?t so much to take off from work.  But it is a new school and the opportunities were very limited early on because certain tasks weren?t set up.  So much that December came and I had all of one hour.  This school has a lot of stay at home moms and some of them can be at the school any time they feel like it.  Some of them can?t; but their schedules are not regimented by a job outside the house.  Plus we would get the sign-ups by email and they?d be gone almost instantly.  So now I?m scrambling to get them all in.  Fortunately my boss tolerates that once a week I leave for 90 minutes in the middle of the day to go and do lunch duty. 

Several times I have to do things and I?m the only one there with my children because the others have children old enough to stay home or they sent one spouse and the other stayed home.  I have read that statistic.  When I read it was a while ago and it was 4% so I guess it has increased.  And the real kicker is, there are more children that live with neither biological parent than those who live with a widowed parent.  With all of the military conflicts going on I?m surprised it hasn?t gone up more.

Even then it might not be so bad except for the times it feels like every commercial, advertisement, announcement or event is aimed at making our families feel inferior.

robunknown

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2015, 02:13:08 PM »
I haven't run into too much of this yet. But I have a feeling moving into a new school system next year I am going to see it.

Frankly I see these types of people as shallow and not worthy of any envy of their "perfect" family. They clearly have misplaced insecurities in their own life that paralyze them from living.

When I get the vibe this is happining my thought process goes, "What a wierdo. They saved me the trouble of trying not to talk to their stupid ass."

ieh21

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 12:27:46 PM »
I totally understand both feeling slightly alienated and resentful in that kind of situation. As time has gone by, I've been able to move beyond those feelings faster, but they are still there.

Sometimes it's enough with the logistics. And sure, everything has a solution. But the sheer exhaustion from having to find them all the time: those solutions don't just appear. One thing goes differently than expected and all of a sudden, a few emails, a couple of phone calls, time wasted on organising. Yes, our situation IS different from other people's. And even amongst this group, people have different hurdles to face.

Sure, everything is possible, but favours needs to be called in, money needs to be paid. Even simple things are not actually simple. And depending on your mood, this difference matters more or less. Even the most uninvolved husband or wife is a lot more involved than my dead spouse.

And yes, our attitude to death is different now. I too bristle at the idea that my parents, on whom I rely A LOT, might die suddenly. I never used to be worried about anything, now I am a lot more aware of the possibility of people dying or falling ill.

Yet, there's this sort of attitude toward death that is no longer one of reverence or fear, a pragmatic, detached attitude has replaced it. People talk about so-and-so in their 60s being ill and I immediately have to bite my tongue because my next comment is "Why is this surprising? People have to die." And likewise discussions about death and dying. There's no taboo about the process of dying anymore. I know how the song goes, it doesn't impress me, it doesn't scare me. So yeah, I can be very "in your face" about certain topics which most people shirk. And then I have to remember to be gentle with them again. Not everyone understands, because thankfully I am a statistical anomaly.

 

canadiangirl

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Re: Relating to other parents
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2015, 04:21:09 AM »
I look run down and plain old as I have the job of two parents. But that other person is gone forever and we are left with the psychological pain in addition to feeling like social isolation is easier that any relation with others as they can't relate to us either. Solidarity to my wid sisters who are mothers or fathers.

iloveyoualways, thanks so much for reaching out. I am so sorry that daily life is such a struggle for you too. I too have aged so much the past years.  Adds insult to injury- psychological pain, isolation and then physical deterioration which sometimes feels humiliating.  I'm going to be working even harder to squeeze in the time to get some sunlight and exercise.  Lunch hours are my target if I can get my routines down better... ((iloveyoualways))

Thanks TooSoon, I totally feel like a scary non-conformist. Sounds like we have similar school demographics.  I will practice my eye-rolling. Thanks for the birthday wishes- birthday weeks are the best. ((TooSoon))

Even then it might not be so bad except for the times it feels like every commercial, advertisement, announcement or event is aimed at making our families feel inferior.
Hear hear!  luvmy2babies, I just have given a blanket no to every volunteer thing at the school.  I can't and make it known and to be honest, I don't feel a ton of guilt.  The parents at our school are very engaged - I don't HAVE to be.  ((luvmy2babies))

robunknown, I think it's kind of inevitable, this feeling of not being able to relate, because we ARE of the 5%.  And to be honest, the friend I was describing is a caring and good person- it's just that people all around us want us to be fine and "normal", out of caring and/or because it's scary to believe someone could continue to suffer in our situations.  Leads to avoidance, from them but also from me, because I have to pretend all the time and it's tiring.  Best of luck. ((robunknown))

Sure, everything is possible, but favours needs to be called in, money needs to be paid. Even simple things are not actually simple. And depending on your mood, this difference matters more or less. Even the most uninvolved husband or wife is a lot more involved than my dead spouse...

There's no taboo about the process of dying anymore. I know how the song goes, it doesn't impress me, it doesn't scare me. So yeah, I can be very "in your face" about certain topics which most people shirk. And then I have to remember to be gentle with them again. Not everyone understands, because thankfully I am a statistical anomaly.

Yes, thanks for also getting it, ieh21.  I HATE asking for help and favours, and hate the sense of obligation, even though I know others often sincerely want to help.  I feel like a "taker" all the time, and just don't have the energy to give back (yet).  Yes, I was tough on my friends when I talked about our parents dropping dead; it comes from the same place. It was in my face, I am not scared of the process myself, although I am so fearful of death itself causing more destruction in life as I am rebuilding.  "I am a statistical anomaly" sounds like a great widow/er T-shirt logo.  ((ieh21))