“Womaning Up”

Is this even a word? I was buggered if I was going to put manning up !!!

We are home from Africa now and living through the post holiday washing, sorting , tidying stuff. Because we have been away for 3 weeks I had to head straight back to work yesterday, and so I asked the boys to do some stuff for me round the house whilst I was at work. Bear in mind they are 19, 16 and 13 and have no responsibilities at all right now.

When I got home an extremely minimal effort had been made by sons 2 and 3 . Son 1 appeared to have spent the day bossing his brothers around. I was pretty pissed off, but I asked questions first, and then I tried this “leaning into the discomfort” thing, which I assume means sitting with the very uncomfortable feeling of anger, frustration , disappointment and resentment that this complete lack of any significant effort brought up in me. Not only sitting with, but exploring a bit, examining how I felt and why and trying to weigh how reasonable I was being.

I still find these emotions really difficult to acknowledge- especially anger and resentment…

Part of that comes from having lived with critical cruel men. Both my ex Husband and my ex partner were very hard on the boys. Constant shouting, relentless criticism, unkind words, sharpness and putting down. Nasty little jibes about their acne, or weight: sweeping statements about how “useless” and “stupid” they were. I saw all this and winced at it, and overcompensated. Being too soft, too kind, too easily taking on all the responsibility myself.

Some quietish reflection and thinking persuaded me that in fact, expecting some genuine and worthwhile help from three teenagers who I have just taken on holiday for 3 weeks, is not at all unreasonable and in fact, not doing as I asked was massively disrespectful, entitled and just plain lazy.

Furthermore, when I realised that Son 1 had done NOTHING to prepare himself for his college enrolment this morning, to the point that he had actually forgotten that’s what he needed to do …. I decided to follow my feelings that he, at least, is taking the piss. That all his wanting £250 shoes basically involves me buying them (I didn’t) and little understanding that he is now 19; his life is in a bit of a mess because of HIS decisions, and if he wants nice expensive shoes he needs to get a job to pay for them.

So I told them ALL I was disappointed in their attitude, ALL that I thought it was spectacularly unfair that I should have to do everything in the house when I am the only one working, and all that a half assed effort is not good enough. I didn’t mince my words, and I was the opposite of the pushover mother I have had the tendency to be.

And I don’t feel mean, I don’t feel like backing down, I don’t feel like saying sorry, or “patching things up” …. I feel like I have discovered some part of the tough side of me that is rebelling about being trampled on by my kids – but especially my eldest.

So later, the ground rules get laid out unequivocally…. including that the ordering of his younger brothers stops as does the relentless criticism of everything they do. It’s time for him to shape up, and if he can’t do that? Then we will need to review his arrangements ….

I have had an apology from Son2 who said that I definitely have a point; and from son 3 …. son 1 is sulking. I know he’s anxious, I know he’s recognising that he actually needs to DO something now – that the holidays are over …. he needs to enrol in College and actually make an effort …. that he has literally NO friends and NO social life and he finds it hard to mix with his peers … but we cannot go on like this, and only I can sort it out …

One comment

  1. Well done. Can’t have been easy, but discipline like that is beneficial to everyone, and hopefully being made to be more responsible and thinking more about his own actions, decisions, and consequences will help your son be more confident and sociable too…? Not a quick fix, but honestly think it will help. Perhaps a part time job really would be a good thing? Not just for the shoes!


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