February 18, 2021

Digital Artwork, Health, Personal

The Worst Week of My Life: Let All That You Do Be Done in Love

let all that you do be done in love hand lettered quote
Created by Ali Coşkunfrom the Noun Project

let all that you do be done in love hand lettered quote

This has been one of the worst weeks of my life as a mom.

I have waffled back and forth between whether or not I should share what’s going on in my life right now. It’s intensely personal and quite honestly embarrassing, because it highlights that my life isn’t picture perfect. It’s actually actually far from it; talk about shattering the illusion, right? But then I thought: you know what, there shouldn’t be shame in what’s going on. And I know for a fact that I am not the only mother to ever go through this kind of heartache and fear. So I’m swallowing my pride and exposing my heart, because I can’t just sit here and cry and mope anymore. Plus, this is going to be a major chapter in my life’s story and for me to ignore it would be doing a disservice to myself. So here we go, let’s just get on with it.

My oldest son moved out this week.

My barely 18 year old, still hasn’t graduated high school, doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet son left our home out of anger. He’s been gone five days now, and with each passing day I am moving trudging through the grieving process. I am grieving what I view as my failure as a mom, I’m grieving for my other kids who are helplessly watching this drama unfold, and for my husband because I know he’s hurting just as much as I am. And I’m grieving for Danny, because I know he’s hurting and there’s literally nothing I can do to help.

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years with Danny, struggling to get him through school and life. I won’t dig into the private details of what’s happened over the years, because that’s Danny’s story to tell. I’m not going to air his business online to strangers. But, I feel comfortable saying that from a parenting point of view it’s been a struggle: IEPs, 504s, multiple doctors, multiple diagnoses, juggling medications.

Not to mention the many (many) fights over the last 18 years with what we feel is the right thing to do in terms of rules and helping guide all of our kids into responsible adults. Add in all of our moves and different schools Danny’s gone through, the stress of my former career as a destination wedding photographer gone almost every weekend and Randy’s military service, plus the pure disaster of the last year? It’s just been really, really hard.

The Silent Battle I’ve Been Fighting During the Pandemic

Have you ever heard the quote, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” from Brad Meltzer?

Over the last year, I’ve gotten more and more militant about fighting the extreme measures of the pandemic and it’s getting to the point of anger. Not because I don’t care about people and their health, but because I have stood by, helplessly watching as it has slowly caused problems in my family. Not enough people are talking about how the face masks and social distancing are wreaking havoc on people with mental health issues. No one is talking enough about how forcing kids to rely on the internet for human contact and education is taking serious tolls on their development and causing unnecessary anxiety. And the reliance on the internet and social isolation is causing addiction to things like gaming and social media because everyone is so freaking afraid to be in contact with people (check out this article to read more about that).

The Worst Week of my Life: How the Internet and Gaming Addiction is a Battle I Have Lost as a Mother

Relying on hybrid/virtual education and lack of face to face contact with people has absolutely destroyed Danny’s senior year. People wonder why I’m so anti-mask and anti-virtual school? This is 100% why. I’ve been silently watching my son (and my other three kids) fall apart mentally and emotionally and spiritually, praying to God every single day that things would get better. I’ve walked into Danny’s room and prayed he hadn’t taken his life when he didn’t respond to me calling for dinner or whatever. My anxiety has been through the roof, because these are the legitimate fears I’ve been dealing with the last year.

Right now I should be thinking about what my child is going to do as a career in life or whether I’ve taught him enough about budgeting and cooking and responsibility. Absolutely not whether or not he’s going to commit suicide. Hearing those thoughts come out of my beautiful, funny, sensitive, caring, loving and incredible baby literally made me snap. Where did I go wrong? The worst week of my life brought out the devil in ways I never imagined possible.

But this is the ugly truth.

This is what I’ve been battling and worried about; I’ve been trying to figure out the balance between rules and freedom. How do I help navigate my kids through these uncharted waters? And now that Danny’s left because he didn’t want to follow our rules anymore, I’m left here standing on the edge of the cliff. Am I watching him fall or soar? I can’t tell which it is, yet, but I am praying he’s soaring.

I’ve spent several hours researching how to help my kids on sites like BetterHelp.com, and I’ve even reached out to their therapists for advice. I’ve been in therapy for months trying to get my feelings sorted out. I’m on two different anxiety medications, battling my own issues because I don’t know how to mother a child addicted to the internet who also is being forced to use the internet for school. A child addicted to gaming and social media because they rely on it entirely for social interaction but being socially isolated due to the fear of the virus.

There is literally no winning here.

Everything that I did and will do is done in love. Every single thing. Every appointment, every meeting, every tear shed, every grounding, every rule, every intervention, everything. I did it out of love and if I can be very vulnerable: fear of failure. Danny was born when I was only 18 years old, barely an adult myself; I did the best I possibly could, but I never felt like it was good enough. From birth until this very moment, I have felt like a total failure the entire time – never doing enough, not doing things right, making mistakes.

But that’s the devil whispering lies in my ear, because I know that I did the best I freaking could. And I will continue to do so! The truth is: I know I am a good mom. I’m not perfect, but I am a damn good mom. I’m constantly learning and evolving, and rolling with the punches life has thrown at me.

All I can do right now is pray that I’ve done a better job than I feel like I have. Pray that the life lessons I have tried to impart on my kids has made an impact, even during the worst week of my life. I pray that the pandemic is nearing an end, or at least the extreme measures in place. Why? Because I doubt this virus is going away, ever. Most importantly, I hope Danny and my other children know that we love them beyond measure. That rules are there because we love you and that real life is so much more meaningful than anything done online.

© ashley durham photography