Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Near End of Mother

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
- Mother Teresa

She sat across from me, crying, telling me she just didn't know what to do, just knew she couldn't "live like this" anymore. My 76 year old client wasn't talking about a husband or boyfriend. She was talking about her 49 year old son.

I know when we are about the last stop when a mother comes to our office about a grown child. The scenario is almost always the same: untreated mental health issues, substance abuse, been stealing/cajoling mom for money, turned violent when she wouldn't give in anymore. Mom tries to put up limits, but gives in when her son asks for help. Us mothers can't but see them as 2 year olds holding up their little arms begging to be cuddled. If only we could comfort them now, like we could then.

For all we say about romantic love, and we say a lot, we can always find another partner. Most of my clients are or have been in intimate partner domestic violence relationships. There's always another fish. But, not so for children. No matter how cruel, how bad, how humiliating, a mother's heart forgives. And breaks. And forgives again.

This mom, like my other moms in her situation, doesn't really want a protective order. She doesn't really want him not to be able to come to her home. She just wants the drug-abusing, violent, mean son to stop coming. She wants her sweet little boy back. She wants the never-before-existed successful, happy good son. She is grieving not only the pain her son has caused her, but also for the son who never was.

I tell her that just because her son doesn't have limits, doesn't mean she shouldn't. She isn't being a bad mother because she says "enough." In fact, she could even help him by not making it easy for him. She can't fix this - only he can. She can - and will - love him always.

He either will stop what he's doing or he won't.

No comments: