Saturday, December 23, 2006

Under Attack?

I was on call for the past wo days, which means I manned the phone for whoever called needing information regarding a multitude of issues. Those issues ranged from several someone's needing money to pay their rent, or money to buy prescriptions, or money to make modifications to their homes for the use of a wheel chair, or ease of bathing, or money to pay a utility bill, or money to buy food, or Christmas gifts. Most of them seem to be from people lacking enough money to survive on. Unfortunately it being the time of year it is, there is no money left in the charitable coffers.

A few others were from elderly people seeking affordable or free transportation. I had very few phone calls in which I was able to offer viable happy solutions, or options to the caller's problems.

My last phone call of the day was the most frustrating. One that almost made me lose my compassion, my empathy, and brought me very close to not holding my tongue. Something I have noticed in the past few weeks of being on call, is at least once a day I receive a call from someone who has a source of income from the government, but have currently spent it all, have no way of earning any, and seem to feel they are entitled to any extra money that is available. But my agency has no actual money to give them, I have at my fingertips and in my brain a variety of charitable resources, but those do get depleted, the caller then becomes very angry when I am not forthcoming with a source of unlimited funds. Several have even told me that they had tried the resources I gave, but they want too much information, or it is too difficult to get to them. Most are within blocks of each other.

Anyway...that last phone call...tied in with one I had received earlier in the day from a woman calling in looking for a place to stay for a pair of homeless men. Both ill it seemed and living in their car. There was a lot of conversation that basically went nowhere, because they were not willing to visit one of the local homeless shelters, nor, it seemed the free health care provided for the homeless in our city. When I asked how she was going to give them the information I had given her, since she lives in another city, she told me they had recently purchased a pay as you go cell phone. OK.

The phone call...I answered the phone, and was immediately berated by a man because there is no place in the city for him to stay. He then began to list all of his illnesses and problems, without letting me interject a word. I finally got the opportunity to name the shelters and agencies available for emergency funds, and he then told me those won't work for him, He then told me that he just wanted $10.00 for gasoline. Which he is living in. By this time I have pretty much decided he is the very same homeless man I had received the call about earlier, and when he mentions a woman's name...I know for sure it is indeed he. I almost bit my tongue trying not to say..."Stand in front of the theater and panhandle for the ten bucks! If you can spend money on a cell phone then you need to think more about your priorities."
But I didn't say it. I apologized for the hard time he was having, reminding him that it was close to 5 o'clock on a Friday, and a holiday weekend at that. He was quite rude before he hung up on me. I tried to tell myself he was sick, he was tired, he was frustrated and in crisis mode, and I was the easiest person to blame. But, the more phone calls I get like his, the more I begin to wonder...where did this sense of entitlement come from? The thing is...all I really wanted to say was, "Tell me where you are, and when I am done at five, I will stop by and give you the $10.00". But I didn't, even though I have done it before, and will probably do it again. Instead, I reminded myself that this man and his friend had options, he was just not willing to take those options because they required some effort on his part.

This whole subject, sometimes puts a fright in me, I can see how very easy it would be to find myself in their very same circumstances, to find myself out of work for whatever reason, to find myself standing on line at a food bank, or, at a shelter hoping for a place to sleep. But, I truly do not believe that I would expect help and not give something back. There is a saying I have heard many times throughout my life, "What goes around comes around." Another way of saying "We reap what we sow."

I believe this, if I am given, I must give back. Tere was a movie made several years ago...I believe the title was Pay It Forward, based on the premise that when ever a favor or good deed is done for you, you do the same for someone you see in need. I try to live my life in that way, I try not to expect a return, I try not to expect that I must receive for my good deed (I receive anyway, because it feels good), but I have always hoped that when I have given to someone, they in turn will give to the next person they find in need.

* * * * * * *

I arrived home this evening, and decided to wrap some Christmas gifts. The scissors were missing, and I knew that Miss Daughter had been the last one to use them. I entered her room, looking on all available services, when I spy an unopened pack of cigarettes lying on the floor in front of her chair. I think, "Well darlin', I told you I would not search your room, but this is just too easy." I pocketed them, found the scissors, and went to my room to begin wrapping. She noticed them missing, and went storming off to her dad, accusing him of taking her cigarettes. He then came upstairs, to ask me if I had taken them. I, of course, said,"Yes I did, it is illegal for her to have them, illegal for her to purchase them, and she is not smoking in our house." He proceeded to tell me, he does not want to fight with her about it, and, he will not be in the middle of it. I told him, "That's was quite okay with me."

Miss Daughter then came in, and asked me if I had taken them, I told her exactly how I found them, and she said, "Yes, I knew Ileft them lying about, but that you should give them back." I responded with a, NO, and my reasons. She then proceeded to tell me that I owed her the money for them. She is sending flames of anger toward me, with her eyes during all of this. And, being speaking in a very scathing tone. I repeated my reasoning. She repeated that I needed to repay her. Storming off, she then asked her dad to take her over to a her boyfriends house. Which of course he did. All this while I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom, wrapping the gifts I had recently purchased for her.

And I thought, "I picked these out with love, I picked these out, because I thought she would feel some delight in receiving them. I picked them out and am carefully wrapping them to please her."

We havw finally gotten back to a bare semblance of our previous relationship, but, if I allow/ignore her smoking, I feel as if I am condoning her behavior, as if I am going against my beliefs. We are now back to a week ago. I already miss her, I already miss her coming to me and talking to me about her relationship problems, I already miss our shopping trips, I already miss so much, but I don't know how to be any different. I know that cigarettes at her age are not that bad, it is something many teens do, and maybe I am wrong, but it feels more wrong to just allow it to happen, it feels dishonest, it feels irresponsible.

I wanted to go to her, and tell her that this was the choice she made, that when she blatantly breaks the rules, blatantly throws her rebellion in my face, that I feel as if I must be the parent, I cannot be her friend. I am her mother, and as her mother I must try to protect her in whatever form that takes.

Thus, I sit om front of my computer, with my secret blogs, my secret wishes and desires, and I sometimes feel guilty about them...but when I rationalize, I do think it would be worse if I just threw it all out there in the faces of those that love me, they would be unhappy/shocked to find that there are times when I am unable to just be their wife/mother/daughter/aunt/friend/coworker, there are times that I need more in my life than the roles I play for them, even if the definitions of those roles have been in large part set by me.

I finally have a wish for this Christmas, a wish that I won't get, a wish that it will take a huge effort from me to accomplish, because I am the only one who is going to be willing to swallow my beliefs, even my pride (because it is involved too) , and take the steps needed...

I want my abnormal imperfect but loving family back.


LePhare said...

Can I be blaintly honest. When ever I hear the term, "my daughter/son is my best friend...." it make me wonder what is more important, being a friend or a parent.

My daughter often tried to use me against my wife, if she said "No" than dad would say "Yes", but that was not me. She would even try to manipulate my parents into the situation in an effort to get her way, but that didn't work either. It was not a game I was prepared to play.

She even boasted to my wife's sister that she would 'break us up', spilt us so that we would part, but again she didn't realise that she was doing the things that I had tried many years before. Not to break up a marriage but to play one off against the other. I didn't work for me and it would not work for her.

I know you love your kids, and it must seem that you are always 'the heavy'. Your husband is doing your daughter no favours what so ever, and if he doesn't see that, he needs a kick up the ass.

The most important thing is to be fair, honest and to be the parent......... not the friend.

I hope this doesn't offend, it's the last thing I would wish to do. I don't know the whole story. I only know you must do what you think is right, and sometimes suffer the consequences.

Fiona said...

I've never had the joy (or heartache) of being a parent. I can only say Sunny, I feel for you....I hope things work out.

Stopping her from smoking is the best gift you can give her, it's the most awful of things and it destroys mercilessly.

I'll be thinking of you over the holidays and hoping things get better. Whatever you have to do for you is right.

Big big hugs...and I haven't forgotten I owe you an email *S*

Sunny Delight said...

Ian, all I would ever want from you is your honesty. I agree with you, our children cannot be our "bestfriends".

I am and always will be their mother first and foremost. Any conversation we have ever shared, I have always been there as her mother.

What I have tried to do all these years though is be as open in our communications as I thought possible without telling too much if that makes sense. We can laugh, giggle, bemoan, cry, and everything else together, but with both of my children they have always known that my perspective on their lives is always that of their mother.

You know I hadn't looked at it quite the way you describe as her trying to get us to choose sides, but with her father continuously trying to define his new role in her life, perhaps she is trying just that.

The problem I am having the most difficulty with I think.... is she has always worn her emotions on her sleeve, she got it out, and we could move on....this time though she is truly showing her "teenage" colors, needing to portray her growing need for independence in a rebellious way and I suppose I had thought we had escaped that, guess she is just a late bloomer.

But even with all of the upheaval lately, she will still leave me a note ending with "more than words can say".....a code she and I have used since she was a toddler.

So when I say I miss what we had, it is that openness and understanding, in the past even if she did not like what I had to say, I still felt that I had her respect. ..

My son is more like me in that we keep our emotions in check most of the time (you don't see that here because writing has always been my way of dealing with my emotions...only now instead of a journal I blog them) the very few times my son and I have had major disagreements we had to go to our private little corners to nurse our wounds for awhile before we could then talk it out.

I do not fault her father, he does confuse me though...he has spent the past few years trying to control their every thought and action, yet when it comes to the "socially acceptable" breaking of the rules such as cigarettes and alcohol he seems to almost condone the actions.

I also don't mind being the bad guy, I have been that for years, whether hugs or punishment all has been doled out by me alone most of their lives. Dad only punished when it directly affected his life at the moment.

I guess I am not articulating what I truly feel.....maybe I just miss the whole package....she is 17 but there are times when she still needs to be a little girl....and before these recent events she seemed to feel safe with me in doing that, she would come to me for a much needed snuggle knowing that my arms were open to her. I only hope she knows they always will be.

It's funny in writiing that above, I realized my role has reversed with my own mother in recent years, in her times of extreme stress and unhappiness, I have mothered her, I have held her close and allowed her to cry, to be held instead of doing the holding, to feel protected. I have given her the same gifts she gave me as a child and as an adult. There are many things my mother does/has done that I have difficulty with, but first and foremost she is my mother and I am her daughter.

I don't feel that I am wrong in hoping that my own daughter and I can keep that same kind bond.

Sunny Delight said...

Fi--I don't seem to have much luck at the stopping part, but I will continue to be a hindrance to it.

I was no angel as a teen or young adult....or for that matter an old adult *VBS* but.....isn't there always a but?

But as I have said a few times recently there are times a parent truly has to as I say, not as I may not be the best way, but sometimes is the only way we have.

Whether we often show it or not....some wisdom comes with age and life experience...and I have no problem doling out my "words of wisdom" on occasion. And my son has already learned.....Most of the time...I was right!

LePhare said...

Sunny, this generation is so different to the one I grew up in. At seventeen I was on the road, working for an area manager who covered the whole South of England and South Wales. I was part of a team of 'floating staff' that would be put into problem branches to get thing running smoothly a.s.a.p, so it was Penzance this week and Bournemouth the next.

I very rarely saw my parents even though I was living in their house. I had to rely on the common sense I had been taught in the earlier years and that saw me through.

I'm sure you've done enough ground work to see your daughter through..... but I know it doesn't stop the worry. That's always there. My fingers are crossed for you.

Was it George Bernard Shaw that said that it was a shame that youth was waisted on the young?

Sunny Delight said...

Ian, It maybe Shaw, it sounds right that it was he, ....I don't really want my youth back....but ah to have that stamina....

When I was 17 I was still in high school, working part-time, and pretty much raising my younger brother and sister (my mom worked about 80 hours a week and traveled) and my dad did the same, so I was the housekeeper, sibling keeper, meal preparer as well getting the shopping done,and getting my little brother to and from various athletic practices. Yet in all that I still found the time to be a rebellious "bad girl". I sometimes look back, and think....did we make our children's lives too easy? She has her responsibilities, 15 head of cattle and the rest of our animal menangerie along with school which is also suffering, but that is about all that is expected from her.

A very wise young man warned me recently that young women have a tendency to take on the lifestyle of their current love interest...and this all started when a new boyfriend entered the picture....he could be right....I have just not wanted to admit that she would allow her very strong personality to become overshadowed by that need to be accepted into his group.

That very same young man reminded me that some of the virtues of a good parent are patience, love, and just being there. Those are things I can do very easily...although the patient part is a bit tough at the moment.

And thanks for the crossed fingers :)