The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Comment Posted January 11, 2016

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal...,Mommy Mind,The Studio — wingmother @ 2:38 pm
This came as a little shock to my system recently… And, ironically, in tending to its reply I wasted a good chunk of my “work time” this afternoon (use of quotes inspired by the sentiments of the commenter below). I found that I did not possess the self-discipline to apply myself elsewhere until I had responded directly to this reader’s criticisms. Sheesh. I can’t handle not being liked very well. ! I am a supreme wimp, and it’s hard for me to see what I look like to some. Oh well. I just gotta live in my integrity as best I can, keep making the to-do lists and attending yoga every Monday night. Just breathe….
Selene Says:

Hello. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and I just can’t figure for the life of me why you just won’t get a job and get your life together. You don’t seem to be disabled in any way and from what I gather, your mother foots the major bills. Your house is 100% free, minus utilities, food and cable (and heating oil is at the lowest price in more than a decade) and I remember you saying that you have a vehicle, but no car payment. A basic JOB would cover these leftover expenses without much difficulty. You should consider yourself very blessed to have a mommy to handle the tuff stuff. And personally, I feel a little miffed that you’re availing yourself of welfare benefits as an able-bodied adult. It feels like in a way you’re scamming the system. Your son is of an age where he can chill out by himself while you go out and earn your keep for a change.

The other thing that bothers me is that you simply will not let go of your ex and the shameful thing that you allowed him to do to you. And by mentioning it constantly – years later – it doesn’t give you the chance to heal and move beyond it and get on with your life. He doesn’t care. Next.

PLEASE stop smothering your son and living vicariously through him. He’s going to wind up a momma’s boy, constantly afraid to face the world, hiding behind his mother’s skirt everytime life get’s a little difficult for him. You’re doing him no favors.

2016 should be the year you put on your Big Girl Panties, get a job, lay off blogging, and get back to the real world and handle your responsibilities like the rest of us. Life IS hard. Yeah, we get that.

  • Hey Selene – Always wondered if I would one day get a comment along these lines… All good points. This is my first reminder that not everyone sees things the same way.

    May I offer my take on your ideas?

    Firstly, I do work. I have a dozen private students who each require individual lesson plans, as they have different goals (some want to compete, some just play in a band, some take just cuz “Miss Elizabeth is fun”) I spend a lot of time compiling material and creating arrangements and exercises designed individually for them. My regular accompanying jobs and the outside adult courses I teach also comprise what I would call “work”.

    Teaching does cover the bills when the school year is in session, but when school is on break, I often have no students, and therefore, no income (aside from some support I do receive from the ex, which is a Godsend). Until now, I have chosen to teach private lessons, accompany performances and play piano at my son’s school because these were jobs that allowed me to be present after school; to assist with homework, get my son fed and keep him ‘on task’. The older he gets, the less this is necessary – we’re in complete agreement on that!

    With this in mind, I have already begun to inquire about possible part time jobs I might take. Now that Elihu takes the bus home, it frees me up considerably (that being said, I’m learning that most entry-level retail part time jobs require weekend hours, which I don’t feel I can accept currently). Until recently, leaving Elihu alone ‘out here’ while I was miles away at a job was never a responsible option. The older he becomes, the less this is a concern.

    Believe me, I don’t ever take for granted the safety net my mother – and sometimes my friends – have provided for me when the unexpected arrives. Root canals, car repairs and the like can be impossible to pay for on piano teacher’s wages.(Never mind tuba lessons!)

    Regarding the governmental support we receive; having worked a multitude of small jobs since high school, I have contributed and paid into the system for over 30 years. The amount my son and I receive annually – for food and heat – is less than $3K. I’m pretty sure I personally put thousands more than that into the system over the years! Believe me, I never thought I’d be a single mother to a legally blind child living in the middle of the country! None of the extra support – whether governmental or gifts – goes without deep appreciation. We say prayers of gratitude at every meal, and I stretch our dollars as I have never stretched em before.The past six years were the hardest, and I don’t imagine they’ll be like this much longer.

    Re the ex – a critical look back at the posts will see that I mention him very seldom. I can’t remember when I last checked the ‘divorce diary’ category… But when shit happens that involves him, I ‘report it’ as I experience it. Cuz that’s kind of the point here, right? I’m just expressing my inner world to the outer one. I certainly don’t spend my days thinking about him., there’s just too much to do with the Studio, with life and Elihu!

    Maybe I should take the ‘backstory’ page down, yeah, I’ve thought of it. But hey – that’s how I got here, ya know? I actually enjoy my ex’s company (although my friends tell me I’m ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’) and have many times written that he’s a good, loving dad. While he has certainly angered me in the past, I have never said that he was a bad father, only that he’s made some short-sighted, self-serving choices along the way.

    Most of the blog is about our current daily life. At least that’s how it feels to me….

    I can totally understand how it looks like I’m living thru my son. Sure, I see that. But at the end of the day, it is just the two of us together, all the time. Think of it what you will, but we often feel more like a partnership than a mother-son relationship. These days my son is at an age when he needs responsibilities, he needs privacy and a sense of autonomy, and I encourage all of this.

    Remember, Selene, you read only what’s presented here on the blog; this is but a tiny percentage of our life. There is just so much more that occurs, but I only record the events or thoughts that rise to the surface in moments of stillness. I’m more aware than anyone that I need a life apart from my son’s; and my vision for this next chapter is anchored in The Studio and its future. There’s been a plan afoot all these years. As unsure of myself as I may seem, I do have a vision of myself in a role other than mom! Understand, if you will, that the Studio was a bombed-out shell last year, but this year it is rehabbed, gorgeous – and being used. ! Guess who made that happen? That was more than a part-time job, I can assure you!

    Bottom line is, you and others may not think I have a job, but I do. Putting on my ‘Big Girl Panties’ is really more about cultivating a dynamic board, writing my first grant proposal, designing a curriculum or running a summer music camp than it is about getting 40 hours on the clock at Target!

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, it’s fascinating to see how our blog presents to different people. I have to disagree about your ‘lay off blogging’ bit, because I have discovered myself to be as much writer as a musician – or mother. When I write, I am following my joy. (And who knows, one of these days I just might find myself a publisher, or at the very least, a writing gig!)

    Elihu has a question for you: Why do you keep reading if you’re so disappointed with me and my choices? (I sure hope you don’t respond that it’s ‘like watching a train wreck’! :) )

    Yeah, life’s not easy, I agree. I think all humans kinda share that idea. You’re welcome to share the ways in which life challenges you, too. Yes, there are plenty of folks who have a much, much harder road than I do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share my experiences. Thankfully, there are some folks who enjoy what I share. If my choices piss you off – then don’t read about em! :)

    Seriously, thanks for your perspective, it was not easy to read and indeed, my feelings were hurt by it. But it was good grist for the mill, and I’d rather know what folks are thinking than not. Plus it’s been a wake up call for me; the more public I become, the thicker my skin needs to be.

    I do wish you a happy and successful New Year –


    Post Script: OK, folks, let me have it! Thoughts welcomed… The good, the bad or the ugly. Come on, I can take it…. (I think)…

 

10 Responses to “Comment Posted”

  1. Eric Schultz Says:

    Well, that just goes to show that you are a good writer indeed. That is why someone who completely disagrees with you (and also seems to have no respect for you) would continue to read your blog. If your posts weren’t well written, they you wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention very long. Either your writing is compelling to that reader, or else she is just someone looking to find fault. People who are looking to find fault will sift endlessly through other people’s words until they think that they have found something to criticize. Either way, you have held that person’s interest. I hope that she reads your response.

  2. wingmother Says:

    Ha! Amen and thanks, Eric. !

    • Audrey Says:

      Amen indeed! Liz, bravo on your *mature,* intelligent and well-crafted response without a hint of snark.

      And may I add (with a tip of the hat to Ben Sidran):

      “Critics, can’t even float,
      They just stand on the shore,
      wave at the boat…”

      xxoo

  3. Gene Burnett Says:

    I think you took it in and responded well. I know you through your words and your words are self-selected…I don’t have the benefit of seeing you in your daily life…how you interact with your son…how you respond in the immediacy of life to the ups and downs, punches and curves…I imagine there’s some truth in what Selene writes…and I certainly imagine there’s truth in your response…what THE TRUTH is…if that exists…is no doubt somewhere in between. In letting the criticism touch you…maybe even hurt you…without dismissing it…and then thinking out and articulating a reply…you become stronger and clearer. In the days to come as things settle and reverberate…more strength and clarity might emerge…as well as more doubt and even the desire to change a few things…but that’s a process emerging, not a black/white, right/wrong “event”. I think the ability to hang out in the dynamic tension between opposites and allow the “heat” of this process to melt away what isn’t true or doesn’t feel right is just about the most important ability an adult can possess. It’s hard. Black or white seems easier at first and it is in some ways…but ultimately black/white, wrong/right positions have to be defended forever since life is a constant change that no right/wrong position can accommodate. It’s a life of never-ending defensive battling, you can see it in every “true believer” or fundamentalist of any kind. The other route…living in the tension of an ongoing dynamic process is harder at first…so uncomfortable…but one gets used to it and ultimately, at least for me, it’s very productive and really, the happiest way to live. Best of luck to you…there’s another wave coming. ;~) GB

    • wingmother Says:

      Yup, I spend a lot of time muddling along somewhere in the middle. I think it’s much easier (also more dangerous) going thru life with fixed, ‘right or wrong’ ways of seeing the world. I’m trying to keep my eyes on all the elements as best I can….Trying to see what motivates folks, how disparate methods can all still be ‘right’ in some way.

      I do know that when something ticks me off, ironically there might be a seed of truth somewhere in the mix… At the end of the day, when bold ideas are stripped of their ego-injuring properties, they can be good food for reflection and can present new possibilities.

      Having just gotten all generous and philosophical here, I’d like to shift gears and offer that there are some theories being hatched by friends and family that this commenter actually knows me and my family personally, and that the comment may have been designed to ‘expose or provoke’ me. Hm. One reader even expressed fear for my safety. !

      Anyway, I hope the drama’s peaked, cuz I have a long day ‘at the office’ tomorrow! Thanks as usual, Gene, for your balanced thoughts on it all. xo

  4. Selene Says:

    Not to start a blog war here, but all of these things that you’re doing that you count as “working” are barely keeping food on the table and heating oil in your tank, so they aren’t working for you and instead of ruminating about the hard life in a blog, that energy would be best spent trying to change this. The real reason I feel is that it’s easier to accept welfare and sit home and hover protectively over your son than it is to get a job and work to make life easier financially for the both of you. That is hard to hear, but it appears to be true. And think about this: If you were a man blogging about these things, people wouldn’t be so kind. He would be told to man-up, grow some balls, stop living off your mother and get a second job if he must. Whatever it takes. And every man that sees this will say “Yeah – I guess she’s right on that one.” But they will never tell you that. And there are a lot of people who read your blog that feel the same way, but they just respond by saying nothing. Also, remember that when you lay yourself bare in such a public fashion, you have to expect that not everyone is going to blow rays of sunshine up your behind. Comes with the territory.

    I don’t feel you’re a bad person or a bad mother, I just feel that you’re caught up in a pity-party that you can’t seem to walk away from. It’s comforting to know so many people feel sorry for you and this makes you feel you’re not alone. I get it. But it’s time to shake it off and take care of business, that’s all I’m saying. I wish you and your son all the best, I really do. I see that in spite of things, you love him desperately and he feels the same about his mom.

    • wingmother Says:

      Got one question for you Selene… have we ever communicated personally, either thru message, email or phone before?

    • wingmother Says:

      After a long day of ‘not working’, I finally have a moment to respond thoughtfully. If the recent spike in readership is any indication, it seems that people are really entertained by conflict. I hope they also take an interest in conflict resolution! I suppose I should thank you for all this excitement…

      Firstly, I heartily agree with you, as I’d mentioned earlier; this is a public forum, and I can therefore expect a range of responses. Not just from those who choose to ‘blow sunshine up my ass’ (as you so obviously were not). Me, I might have chosen a less hostile way to express that idea, but hey, I get the gist.

      I don’t believe you’re being needlessly mean (although a bit snarky), but I do feel that you’re completely missing the larger picture here: I am working on growing a business which takes time daily; a business which will one day net me the income of a ‘real’ job. If I don’t do this important foundational work – it will never go anywhere. In addition to the paperwork, research and networking that goes on, I still have students daily, plus now have evening classes to teach as well as a musical production to accompany. This, no matter how you may see it, is all ‘real’ work. It all takes hours of preparation. To cease forward movement on The Studio after two years of preparations would be to shoot my future in the foot, so to speak – not to mention neglect my family’s legacy. My days are organized and efficient and very full.

      I spend a lot more time doing laundry and making meals than I do writing! So I’m certainly not blogging all the time. I spend about six hours out of the week writing (wish it could be more!). My time is spent working, teaching, being a mom, and lastly – writing.

      If you have read more than a post of two of this blog, you’ll know that while I do indeed express my inner doubts, fears and anxieties, on the whole I take the ‘glass half-full’ perspective on things. I try to share the simple joys in my life here. And yes, as a proud mother, I also share the moments with my son that I feel are worth remembering. And it’s also worth recognizing what commenter Gene says: my words are ‘self-selected’, and that alone prevents anyone from knowing the true God’s eye perspective on things. But honestly, I’m pretty much who you see here. And this whole blog is about me journaling my private thoughts in public – so I agree with you, as had I said in my first response, that with greater exposure, I’ll need to develop thicker skin. But it’s all a good, forward-moving process.

      If I talk about being poor – so be it! It’s what I’m feeling, so I’m talking about it! You don’t have to fret about it. Either say, ‘yeah, I know what that feels like’ – or ‘what a loser, I can’t read any more of her crap’. And then don’t.

      Interesting note about the gender flip idea too. I can see how it would present differently. But check this out: My 50 year old brother lives with our mother and has not had a job or relationship in 25 years. But his friends have no problem with that. Nor does my mother, as she continues to enable him. (Of course he doesn’t write publicly about his experience.) If I don’t satisfy your definition of being a responsible, working member of society, I wonder what you’d think of him. At the very least I’m raising a good human being.

      At the end of the day, Selene, THAT is the most important job of all. Believe me, I aint smothering this kid – there are many folks who know us well, and who would enthusiastically agree. But what I am doing is providing him a platform from which to soar into this world with confidence, education, good humor and skills – oh, and a great, big heart.

      I do appreciate your scrutiny. It’s always good to stop and do a self-check every once in a while. You’ve touched on issues I’ve wrestled with in the past. Personally, I think you’ve overlooked a great deal of nuance, humor and honesty here. I’m sorry to hear that this reads to you like a ‘pity party’, because I’d like to think that my experiences aren’t that different from other folks; what is different is that I’m sharing them in a public forum. I’d think that folks like you, for whom these journal entries are self-sorry entreaties for pity, would simply rather not return. Maybe you are done here, and that’s why you’re speaking your peace. Ok. I heard you – and so did a thousand other folks too. Thanks for your perspective.

      (I’m curious to see if you keep reading…!)

  5. […] Says:January 12, 2016 at 11:35 am […]


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