Stepping Back

20140207-144033.jpg I’m trying to take a step back: step back from caring so much for my children, step back from doing so much for them. I think it’s a good thing for me and for them.

I didn’t think it would make much difference when Julie turned 18 (not so long ago) but it does. She may have been in adult mental health services for a while, but now she is legally an adult in every sense, it has made a difference. I realised something had changed when the school mentioned that they wouldn’t need my consent any more to take her on trips. (I still have to pay for them of course!)

It is a struggle though. This morning, as the rain lashed down, I had to really fight to stop myself offering Julie a lift to school. It is only a mile, and she is a very capable cyclist, but the urge to protect her was very strong. I had to remind myself that she is able-bodied and at her age I was not just cycling to school but travelling to the other side of the country to start university. It would be kindness to drive her there in the car, but it would reinforce the belief that she cannot cope without me.

The problem is, if you don’t stop looking after them, they don’t learn to look after themselves.

Another watershed: the self-harm is still going on, but not quite to the same degree, and now I ask her to dress the wounds herself if she can. Julie had to go to A&E more or less every three or four weeks through the whole of last year, but at the moment each incident is less severe and we can often treat it at home. I want her to learn to do this by herself: know where the antiseptic is, and the plasters, and recognize when it’s too serious for her to handle alone. It’s a huge shift, and a hard step for me, but it is important. It may mean that we run a risk of poor treatment in the short run, but in the long run the risk of having a fully grown adult dependent on her mum is much more insidious.

Joe has been away for work this week, and it has been a good excuse to try and drop some of the habits of doing so much for the kids. Instead I’ve asked them to help me round the house, doing the washing up and emptying the bins more often. I am already beginning to imagine the day when they are more competent than I am – I shall be quite happy to be laughed at!

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4 comments
  1. dhonour said:

    Your timing with this post is eerie. Though not nearly to the same extent because of circumstance, my husband and I have recently realized that there is a good chance we are micromanaging our kids into complete, drooling idiocy–to the point where they can’t make a simple decision for themselves without consulting us or waiting for us to tell them what to do. It’s scary to step away. But ultimately necessary. I know for you it must be even scarier, but your children are lucky to have a mom that is there, but not there, if you know what I mean. Good to see you back!

    • Isn’t that funny? It must be something in the air. Here’s to invisible motherhood!

  2. You are such a wise lady. I found myself nodding right through your post. Parenting is never easy but letting go can be a lot harder.
    I’m so glad to be reading your blog again. Thanks.
    J x

    • Thank you – and how nice to be back replying to your comments again too!

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