One of the lessons that the universe keeps trying to teach me is that I cannot change or control other people. My logical mind understands this. But, I do not always think logically. Like everyone else, I feel that I can solve everyone’s problems. I think I can protect my kids from pain they do not deserve. I obsess. I overthink. And over analyze. And in the end, I have to admit, the universe is right. It is out of my control.
My latest lesson on the subject involves my son. He has lived with his father for the last 10 years and I came into the picture 5 years ago. 3 weeks ago, he left to live with his biological mom. My hope was that it would go well. I hoped that she would step up and be the mother he never knew her to be. The mother he deserves. So far, it doesn’t seem to be going this way.
My husband and I have a difficult relationship with his ex, to say the least. Their relationship was more bad than good. They both did terrible things. They were unhappy with each other, and possibly themselves. I’m sure at some point they were happy, but it was short lived. The relationship they both remember was mean and violent. Dysfunctional. And they brought a child into the world. When they did, they both signed an invisible contract binding them to each other for at least 18 years. And I entered that contract when I married my husband.
Their split was necessary. There was pain and anger and they could not even be together let alone raise a child. Despite having their own space, the anger has never disappeared. But husband has dealt with his wrongdoings and grown from it, and still continues to do so. His ex focuses on what my husband did to fail at their relationship. She, to this day, brings up the pain he has caused. She is stuck in her own hell, living in the past and not taking any responsibility for it. For this reason, it is near impossible to have a productive conversation with her about the present and future of our son.
When he moved over there 3 weeks ago, I knew it would be hard for her. She has not spent more that 4 days a month with him since he was 3. And some months, not even that. I offered to help her. I told her to text me with any questions. She needed nothing.
I recently checked his grades to find that almost all of them have gone down. In 3 weeks. I texted her to let her know. I want the best for him, and I expected she did too. It was not well received. She wanted my husband and I to deal with it. She felt that we were setting her up to fail by holding her responsible for dealing with this. She twisted the conversation until it once again, came back to how poorly my husband has treated her in the past. And there it was, another slap in the face by the universe. She will never change. Not for me, and not for her son.
My son came home that weekend for a visit, and I did have a conversation with him. He tried to lie to me, a skill that probably comes in very handy over there. But I’ve been doing this for awhile, I called him out. I asked why he could take care of his grades at our house but not at hers. He told me the truth. He doesn’t try. He has unlimited video games, a TV in his room, no rules and no chores. He has no structure. He is living the 13 year old dream. Good for him.
I had to put him in the position of being 100% responsible for himself, whether its a rule over there or not. I told him that we will watch his grades, and if they don’t improve, the dream life is over. He will come back home to rules and homework time and chores. I cannot expect her to step up.
The only thing I can expect from her is to keep him alive. She will not parent him. She will not discipline him. She will not be truthful to us or respect our requests. And I imagine, at some point, she will tire of spoiling him and the other shoe will drop. Her true colors will show and he will see a side of her he does not know exists. And when that happens, we will be here.
In the meantime, I just have to smile and nod. I have to let him experience life on the other side, to see if the grass is truly greener. This is the woman my husband chose to be the mother of his child. And though it may have not been a well thought out decision, it is the one he made. And we have to live with that. And here I am admitting it once again, I cannot change her. I cannot make her be the woman her son deserves. It is out of my control. So I have to give it back to the universe, and let it happen. Take a breath and take back my peace.