The hardest part about being a parent, for me anyway, is trying to remember how it felt to be my kids' ages, and then trying to think of comforting or inspirational things to say to them.
I don't recall being really moody at the age of 19 but I probably was, just maybe in a different way than my son. He just informed me that he doesn't want to go to school, or work, or do anything. He says this about once a week, usually when he hasn't eaten in hours, which is when he's most grumpy and unreasonable.
I always want to say - and I sometimes do say - look, eat something and let it digest a bit, and then we can have a reasonable conversation. When I say that, he gets mad. He seems to like to nurse his feelings of anger, like worrying a loose tooth with your tongue until it falls out.
What I've somehow failed to teach him is this: there are going to be many days during your life when you just trudge through the hours, going through the motions, feeling tired and discouraged. Then the sunshine comes out and something happens that makes you happy, and you are glad you kept going. If you fly completely off the track, though, those happy interruptions are not going to come.
His earliest influences were a birthmom who used any excuse to drink. Life seems boring or unfair? Drink a bottle of vodka. Numb yourself to the pain.
I like to think I've shown him differently, that I've shown him how to keep putting one step in front of the other, while the wheel slowly turns. Maybe I have not, though.
If I could get him to sit down and really listen, and more importantly really BELIEVE ME, this is what I would say:
There are going to be many times in your life when it feels like what you're doing is a waste of time. There will be many times when you are tired, or bored, or discouraged, or all of the above. Medicating yourself with alcohol or drugs doesn't help.
Here's the only thing I've learned over the years that really works: grow where you're planted. Learn how to find little signs of hope and encouragement. Ask God to help you through the tough patches.
I never thought I would end up as a caretaker for my mother in her final years. I spend a fair amount of my day catering to Mother and making sure she is dressed, fed, has something to read, is warm enough, etc.
I am also Lola's caretaker. I take her out many times a day.
I am also the caretaker for a moody teenager who gets mad at the drop of a hat.
I have lots of reasons to be moody and want to escape all of it. However, I have learned not to get bogged down by the "what-ifs" or the "I wish" type of thoughts.
I love to write and edit and I am getting lots of chances to do that now. I'm not making a lot of money, but life is infinitely more satisfying to me than when I was working full-time in a law office, with a stressful commute and lots of stress passed down from my bosses. I never felt like I had enough time for anything in those days.
Now I have time to walk outside and feel the fresh air on my skin.
I have time to dream up yummy things to fix for dinner, and then cook them.
I have time to look through old photos and scan them in and share them.
This caretaking phase is simply a part of my life. This time will pass, and I will have to find compensations and blessings to get through the next phase. I have learned to take the long view.
I just wish I could help him skip all the angst and let Michael understand this now...