About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Monday, January 13, 2014

Parenting a Teen Boy after the Suicide of His Father #suicideawareness #asmsg #parenting #grief

How do you tell a sixteen year-old that quitting isn't an option when his response is, "dad quit"? He's right. His dad did ultimately "quit" his life and his family eight years ago when he committed suicide. My son found him first…he was only seven at the time.

We as a family have been through a lot. There are times when I get frustrated over being pulled backward after feeling as if we've come so far. We survived the initial shock, nightmares, anxiety attacks, and brutal grief. Only a few weeks after my husband's death, it was Ben who sat on my lap and asked me if he'd have a new daddy someday.

He doesn't. I'm still a solo widow working 24/7 to keep the roof over our heads. Some people think guilt is about the suicide itself--all those questions about why--but it's more prevalent than that. I look at women I know who have gotten remarried or engaged in the time frame I have been widowed and feel guilty that I haven't been emotionally ready to move on in that way. I feel guilty that we don't live closer to family who could step in and be male role models. I feel guilty for knowing how to relate more to my daughter than my son, even though I love him with all of my heart. I feel guilty for not being "enough." There's that word again…"enough."

When Ben needed to learn to tie a necktie, I YouTubed it. Simple. Done. Wa-la! But when he is an emotional sixteen year old who questions why it's so horrible to quit something or not really try and fires off his dad's "easy way out" as an example, all those feelings of inadequacy flood my heart. I use myself as an example of someone who hasn't quit, who keeps trying against the odds. I use my parents as examples. But he looks at me with such sadness and I realize his real question isn't whether or not he should quit…it really is, "Why did dad give up?"

That's the question he wants answered as he enters the adult world. Why did dad give up? I don't know. We've gone through the story a thousand times, at least. We've come so far in so many ways, but I will never have that answer. Maybe I've put too much responsibility on him as the man of the house. He's always helping me with the chainsaw and other handyman type projects, things he should be learning from his dad. Early on, I put him in every manly sport available so he could have male coaches influencing him, but there have been a few who were not good role models at all. He spends a few weeks every summer with his grandpa in South Dakota, which has been tremendously positive for him. But still he asks me, "why should I try so hard when dad gave up?"

He's only sixteen. He's trying to figure things out. This is where I get angry all over again at Sean for leaving us. He should be here to teach his son how to work the chainsaw, to take him skiing, to hang out with him like other dads do with their sons, and to help teach his son to drive.

So many things to get angry over, even now. The last man I attempted to date (I really have met the wrong kind of guys) told me that no man wants another man's children. I know this is not true. And, I also know that my kids are amazing and anyone would be lucky to know them. But it all makes up my reality…these careless comments by random people, the meanness of the last guy I dated (only six dates, by the way, before I kicked him to the curb), and the fact that my kids have needed to mature faster than they would have if our lives were more stable.

I am the definition of independent woman…but I'm admitting that there is a definite gap in my son's life because his father isn't here to guide him. I can take him skiing, but I suck at it compared to Sean who was champion skier in high school. I can look up to-do videos on YouTube, but it's not the same as having his dad take him outside and show him.

Suicide is different than any other kind of death because there is a choice involved, done in one's right mind or not. That choice sends ripples through time that affect loved ones far after the event.

All I can do is what I know. I tell him that giving up is unacceptable. I tell him I love him. I tell him I'm proud of the young man he has become. I look up videos on YouTube. I buy fishing licenses and gas up the chainsaw. But I hate that no matter how much I do or how hard I try, I will never be his dad. I can only be mom…and hope that that's good enough.

1 comment:

  1. That dude who told you no man wants another man's children is a fool. My stepfather wanted my sister and I and treated us as his own. He was there for our ups and downs growing up. He was the one to give my sister away at her wedding and the one to officiate at my first wedding. He helped me get through the heartbreaks throughout my life and encouraged me to never give up on my dreams. We lost him in 2005. If he were alive today I know he'd be happy with where my life is going. I found a man like him. My husband loves me unconditionally like my step dad loved my mom and all of us.

    So don't you feel guilty about a darn thing. Losing Sean sucks for you and for your children, but through that pain, you've found the strength to go on where Sean couldn't back then. Being the mother of teenagers is rough for anyone, but harder when you have to do it alone.

    I'm proud of you for all you do and so are many others. <3