I live in a house full of irrational people, more commonly referred to as “children.” My 12-year-old stepson has decided he is very angry at me for acting like his mom. My 15-year-old is angry at me because I do not “trust” him to take his own diabetes medicine. He does not like to be reminded. When I do, he says I am not letting him take care of himself independently. When I don’t, he forgets or decides not to do it. I literally have to place it in his hands and watch him in order for him to take his meds.
I know that my stepson is angry at his mom for not being there for him. He is angry that he lives with us. I know he feels safest with me and can tell me he is angry with me. That should be a plus for me, and I try to understand the feelings he has, but I am also tired of always being the bad guy. When he told me he is tired of me acting like his mom, I told him he cannot choose what mom things I do or don’t do. I tried to deal with it humorously. I listed all of the “mom” things I was willing to stop doing. I won’t do his laundry, buy him special snacks for lunch, sign him up for camp or soccer, take him for a haircut or get him new clothes when he needs them. I told him his dad would just have to take over those tasks. You should have seen the look of horror on his face! I know that deep down he is hurt and angry at his mom. He has told me some of the things he’d like for his mom to do, like stick with her schedule and stop canceling visits, call him more regularly, and bring the younger half-siblings with her when she does visit. Last night he had the opportunity to have a therapy session with just him and his mom. Typically my husband and I go with him every week and his mom joins us every other week. That was the perfect time for him to address these issues with her in a safe environment. He chose, instead, to talk about how angry he is at me!
My son, on the other hand, is angry that life has dealt him a bum hand. He has Bipolar Disorder and Type 1 diabetes. He does not want these things. He would rather ignore them in hopes they will go away. Both of these diagnoses came within the past year. And I feel for him — it’s hard enough to be a teenager without health issues! Instead of accepting these things and following the protocol prescribed by his doctors, he has decided to deal with this bad hand by lashing out at me.
Trying to explain things to these children is futile. I may as well explain to the cat. I know, I know — I am the grown-up here, but it’s hard sometimes to not let my feelings get hurt. I also know that there are things I cannot say, especially to my stepson. I am certainly not going to explain to him why his mom chose not to care for him in her home, or why she will never stick with the schedule or call him more often. He will have to figure things out as he grows up. Our job is to help him deal with his anger in constructive, not destructive, ways and keep him out of jail.
I will, of course, continue to do what I do, which is to be the mom in our home. As for my son with diabetes, he will have to come to terms with the hand he was dealt, in his own time, in his own way. My job is to keep him alive. If that means nagging him (or giving him his pills or shots myself) then that’s what I have to do. No easy task, but what choice do I have?