I woke up this morning feeling lighter, braver, more optimistic. I don’t really know why. I’ve been dealing with moving to another state, feeling a lot of anxiety and fear about the future (a complete waste of time), healing from a recent tooth extraction (totally sucked) and the many long goodbyes I’ve been saying to friends and to my two dogs, who I’ve decided will be better off staying here in California in familiar surroundings with familiar people. And, as always, my son’s and grandchildren’s absence is a constant burning itch in the back of my mind.

While allowing myself the luxury of several minutes to slowly wake-up and stretch before leaping out of bed, I thought about the present dynamic with my son. Actually, dynamic is a bit too strong a word because, in reality, there’s nothing dynamic about our current relationship. After the brief visit with him in June, I can count on one hand the number of times he’s reached out. The texts were friendly but brief. I remembered that I had inquired if my grandchildren ever asked for me, and he said, “Not really.” That spoke volumes, and at the time I felt a bit hurt, but then, what can I expect? The twin girls, who are now thirteen years old, have only met me once, for a few hours last March.

Recalling that visit: I spent months getting ready, emotionally and psychologically. I flew across the country and stayed at a hotel because I wasn’t allowed in their house. I was given only limited time with my four grandchildren. It was profoundly dysfunctional but I rose to the occasion and did my very best to be upbeat, loving and cooperative. 

Then I had a sudden memory of when my son was thirteen years old. His new stepmother (whom I hadn’t met) insisted that I pick up and drop off my son at the corner when I brought him over to their house. I realized this morning how many times I’ve been scapegoated by women who have been extremely self-centered, insecure, jealous or just plain mean. The upshot is that my son has been controlled by two women in his life – his former stepmother and his wife. Both women have wanted to eradicate me, his mother. Ugly, ugly stuff.

Thinking on these things, and all the ways I’ve tried to cooperate, keep quiet, be pleasant, be supportive, be upbeat, take the highroad, say the right thing, retreat to the background, show up when asked to, send cards and gifts, accept things as they are, surrender, stay grounded, cry when I need to, try to find some peace and happiness, control expectations, feel anger at all the injustices heaped upon me, not be a victim, go on with my life, forgive, not condone, move forward, stay healthy in body and mind, not fall into a hole, climb out of the hole, watch out for triggers, have compassion, love them anyway- well, it’s an exhausting list and I’m ready to make some changes.

I’m no longer willing to wait for my son to come around. I’m no longer willing to keep holding on and hoping for the day to arrive when we will be on equal ground. The ball has been in his court for over ten years now, and I keep waiting for a pass that never comes. So, I’m leaving the court. Keep that damned ball. I don’t need it anymore. It’s slowly killing me to stay in the game. If we can’t have a relationship based on mutual respect, kindness and love, I don’t want it. I’m no longer willing to serve my heart on a platter only to be wrung out and tossed aside.

And, the thing is, as sad as I am on one hand about this decision, I feel lighter and more grounded. I used to think my son and grandchildren would be in my life, loving one another, spending time together. They do have that with the other grandparents, but not with me. A travesty, a sin, an unconscionable act to excise me from the family, but what can I do?

I am a person of worth: loving, kind, funny, talented, intelligent and compassionate. The kids have missed out on knowing me and I, them.

I’m walking away – away from expectations, unrealistic hopes and sadness. If my son shows up and is willing to explore a relationship based in love and kindness, I’ll be open to that. Otherwise, I’m moving on – physically and emotionally – with love in my heart for my son, my grandkids, and most of all, for myself.