Will I ever get past this?

I am not proud of what I’m about to say here. But this is about as honest as it gets…

I turned down a social invitation for tonight. And I flat out lied about why we couldn’t make it. Mark is not thrilled. I didn’t even bother to ask him before I turned it down. What is wrong with me?

The invitation came from one of the couples with whom we go on our annual Bayfield, Wisconsin vacation. They are such nice people and I really like them. She called to ask if we wanted to come over tonight and watch the Gopher football game and then go to the fall festival at my church. I don’t like football much, but will watch the high school games because my friends’ kids play and I want to support them. I might watch the Superbowl. But I have to draw the line at college football. I just don’t feel like trying to fake it tonight. And as far as the festival, we rarely attend mass at my church anymore, so I’d rather avoid it altogether. I don’t need to deal with all those familiar faces asking why they never see us in church anymore.

But that’s not even why I declined the invitation.

I declined it because the invitation came from the people with the perfect kids. And the gathering will surely include other friends who also have perfect kids. And somehow, I feel like I fall short in their company.

I know, I know. No one has perfect kids. This is my own issue and none of them have done a thing to intentionally make me feel like they were making comparisons or judging. They are all wonderful people and great friends and I love all of their kids. This is not about them. It’s about me. It’s just that sometimes I get in a funk and I torment myself with this stupidity.

You see, all of the couples that comprise this little group of Bayfield friends have kids who are academically, athletically, socially or otherwise gifted. And all of them have kids of very similar ages to my kids. It’s inevitable that we will talk about kids! And sometimes I can’t take it! Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed when I’m around them.

In particular, one of these kids, who is Jake’s age, ┬áis one who was very active in all aspects of high school. He’s confident and loves life. He has a huge circle of friends. He is self motivated. He’s smart. He got into a good school and couldn’t wait to start college. He loves to socialize. He’s always got something going on and everyone knows and likes him. He is a great kid! He is taking life by storm!

So what’s the problem? The problem is that I look at my kid, who I love dearly for who he is and what he is about. He is unique and I get him and think he’s awesome. But…

He struggled just to make it through high school. He hasn’t gone off to college yet, though almost everyone else his age has. He thinks he’ll start some classes during winter semester at the local community college, but he’s done nothing to get the ball rolling. (I need to get on him and help make that happen.) He has a small circle of friends. He’s an introvert and never had a desire to hang out in a large crowd. He was never a social butterfly. He is athletic, but never earned one of those glory spots on a varsity team. He’s a major homebody. He marches to the beat of a different drum and he’s comfortable where he’s at. It doesn’t usually bother me, because it clearly does not bother him. But when I start hearing all those stories about the other kids whose lives followed the tried and true path, I start to second guess myself. I start getting those feelings of failure and doubt; the same ones I felt every time Jake struggled with school throughout the years and no matter what I did, I couldn’t fix his problems. I start to tell myself that it isn’t fair that Jake faced all the hurdles he faced. I wonder why his school years couldn’t have been more “normal.”

Mostly, I hate the questions asking where he is going to school. And I hate that when I say, “He’s taking a semester off and hoping to go to the community college this winter,” that it’s inevitable I’ll get a response along the lines of, “That’s ok. Four year colleges aren’t for everyone.” I know they mean well, but I don’t need to be reassured that it’s ok. They have no idea how relieved we were to just get this kid through to his high school graduation. That’s a given for most people. Most parents don’t have to worry whether or not it will actually happen. I hate that we had to worry about that!

I don’t know why I allow myself to feel this way. I know, deep down, that we have been very, very lucky with our kids. They are good kids and don’t give us much reason to worry. Hell…my friend Shannon’s thirteen year old daughter was born with Spina Bifida. She faces challenges on a daily basis that most of us would never imagine. What am I complaining about? I just can’t help it sometimes. I find it hard not to make the comparisons when I’m listening to my friends proudly (and rightfully) boast of their kids’ accomplishments. Every one of us parents had a vision of our kids’ lives when they were born, and we probably all envisioned something close to perfect. We all hoped for normal and relatively easy journeys for our children. Even though we know that’s not always how the world works, no one ever dreams of a path filled with pitfalls and difficulties, anger, tears and frustration upon frustration. Maybe that’s my problem. I’m still stuck on what I thought should have been instead of dealing with what is.

I know this is monumentally selfish of me to feel this way. Am I crazy to let this get to me so much at times that I refuse an opportunity to spend time with people I like just because I can’t turn off the negative and pitiful thoughts? Does anyone else ever feel this way???

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35 thoughts on “Will I ever get past this?

  1. YES!! I feel this way. My oldest graduated from high school with honors, yet did pathetically in college and then dropped out. After two years, I think she would be lucky to have ten credits. She is unmotivated and I don’t know why. BUT, I’ve decided to accept that she is a loving, honest, fun person, and knowing that she is happy makes me happy. After all, it was my job to raise a healthy, happy adult I could be proud of, and I have succeeded at that.

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  2. “The fact that someone else has suffered from abuse more severe than your own does not lessen your suffering. Comparisons of pain are simply not useful”
    ~~~in a post today, on a blog by a woman who was raped by dad

    Comparisons of pain are simply not useful.
    Nor are comparisons of pleasure and achievement.

    One president is chosen, for the country, and at high school. Is the rest of the school or nation losers?

    You vacation with the marvelous couple with perfect kids, but will not spend a night this weekend with them. That part is ok, but the lie is not. How will you trust each other in the future? You put a ding in the frame of relationship.

    Tell the truth.

    “I enjoy your company, but not football or the church gang. I find God in many places besides the pew at church, but thanks for thinking of me. See you again.”

    All the angst is then relieved.

    School damages all kids, for only certain get to the top. Athletes, the beauties, the brains, cliques like that.
    Geeks, ugly, slow to grasp, chubbies, and others are relegated to lower status.
    Everyone thinks it ends at high school, but by the 20th reunion with folks you could not bear being with, ….. a rush to lose weight begins 10 months early (and fails), the “happy couple” is divorced twice, while the weird couple is on their fifth child and beam love in their eyes at each other.

    The kids who could not dance, still can not dance.

    The jocks live in their past, forever. They peaked.

    The beauties are generally better looking still!
    But a lot has to do with our major plastic surgery, hair color, makeup artistry zeal, than just being who you ARE, not were.

    This will repeat at every reunion forever.

    And those perfect kids now? They are frantic inside to meet expectations,….so parents can continue to brag.
    They often hit the bottle hard later in life, or a drug of choice, or even therapy galore.
    A pyramid shrinks as you rise. Most of us are in the bottom third. That is why a pyramid looks like a pyramid; stuff is mostly at the bottom, and the top is a sole point.

    I went to a reunion years ago, and there was a girl who had a crush on me in high school. We talked, but never went out. She was not my type.

    No! That’s a lie. She was fat. I liked laughing with her, we were the best of friends, but there was no “click” or chemistry from my end, albeit she liked me.

    Twenty years later, we had a reunion for 5 days in a distant city. Her best friend flew in from Calif, she from Texas, and me from PA. We gabbed with scores of people for all the days, and vowed we would get together and “catch up” no matter what, before leaving town, and reunion.

    I went golfing 20 minutes after the plane landed.
    We saw each other at dinner, and vowed the get together. Friends keep vows better than couples.
    Each day we saw each other, but with OTHERS, not alone to talk.
    I noticed she was intentionally gathering addresses and emails of everyone (she was a party girl in high school, and I though it was continuing now, as she met one by one with everyone in class).

    Last night in town. I saw her, and asked which hotel she was at. Amazing….she was at my hotel!
    What floor are you on? Woah! She is on my floor.
    What room?
    OMG! She is across the hall and two doors down.
    She told me to knock on the door whatever time I got in, PROMISE!
    I was staying in a room with a high school chum, recently divorced, and chasing down every girl from the entire class to come to our room.
    It was pathetic to watch and he failed, as it was obvious to all that this was a recent divorce and you could be a rebound person for a night. He went to bed early and alone often.

    I got in at 1 AM, looked at the door of my high school gal who liked me, and I failed to return her like, and decided, the worst that could happen is I would keep my word, and wake her up.
    She answered in a see-through nightie that took me by surprise. I must add that she had lost maybe 50 pounds, no glasses, a sleek wardrobe, and became….PERFECT! Plus, I had never seen these special effects.

    Her roomie was up and they were gabbing, and roomie was in “see through Victoria stuff” too.
    Right off, I asked BOTH a favor, and then my friend (let’s say Jane) and I would talk. Both gals came with me to my room, and positioned themselves one on each side of my sleeping friend, who was scoreless all week. Both girls were nearly naked.
    I turned on the lights and ran to his bed (they were in place already) and started to pound the bed, and yell:
    “SCOTT Wake UP! Wake UP!”

    He jumped toward the ceiling, and all I did was point to his left and right. He stared at TWO nearly naked women in his bed, and started to rub his eyes as if dreaming. We roared a laugh, and went back to the girls room. (He told me of his weird “dream” the next day. I told him it was not a dream, and he was a fool to go back to sleep. He moped.)
    All was innocent.

    Miss Calif knew we needed to be alone to talk, and the night would be short. I was grateful; and faithful, as well. Jane and I TALKED.

    “Jane, things have changed since high school, and I have watched you all week. I want you to know that what you have done to yourself has made you an object of lust to every man in attendance all week”.

    “Keystone, it comes at a price. Everything you see is fake. (and I could see more than all the guys saw…TRUST counts). I have cancer and they gave me five years to live…..ten years ago. Everything you see is rebuilt”.
    She had money that you could not imagine, a faithful spouse, and anything you could desire, but was dying.

    Ever say the dumbest thing possible?

    “But Jane, if they gave you 5 years to live, 10 years ago, you were spending all this week saying goodbye to everyone, eh? You won’t be at at the next party.”

    I regretted my words before the sound of their echo on her wall ended.

    “Keystone”, she said as she put both hands on my face, “I am going to be at ALL of the parties….forever”.
    She was always a fun person to be around. She admitted her taking names, addresses, etc from all. But then, she told me the rest of the story.

    “When I was in high school and fat and unacceptable by anyone but you (I did not fall in love; we were great friends) each of those people you saw me talking to this week went out of their way to make my life hard, with cruel treatment or cruel words.

    I wanted them to see me now! But, you (and Miss Calif in the other bed) are the only ones to know of my cancer. The rest will find out at the next reunion, but remember me for this one. I made sure for each who was cruel to me, that they now know how that cruelty felt. Amazing I am now accepted by my looks, and my looks are not real”. She proceeded to tell me what she said to each individual that week, and what they had said to her 20 years before, that she carried in her heart alone….with agony.

    We do not know what problems people are carrying.
    In high school, we are cruel and selfish; it is the norm. We should grow out of it over a lifetime, but when we get to a reunion, it all floods back again, and we play our role.

    Some can’t.
    The Most Likely to Succeed is a janitor.
    The Best Dressed is homeless.
    The Best Couple is divorced, and eyeing each other’s new “eye candy” now.

    You write “Life is Good” on Friday, and by Saturday, you lie to a friend to avoid being with them. Life is NOT good……all the time.

    The ONLY one on this planet who is authentic with you all the time, and when you are alone….is God.

    No one wants to talk to him until the big reunion.

    Get to know Him a little better now. God is love.
    That is all any of us want.
    That is all any of us need.
    Everything else will vanish. Everything.

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  3. Thank God you have a blog so that you can write these feelings down. Your last post is one of the reasons why we have blogs. To talk and get things off our chest.

    I think a lot of us have these feelings. I have a similar situation at my home. It involves my three daughters. One is outstanding and has the world eating out of her hand. Tons of friends and lots of opportunities. My youngest is just the opposite. She has struggled with high school and will continue to struggle.

    Having them both under the same roof is challenging as a parent. Loving them both is easy, not feeling disappointed, not so much.

    I wish I had the answer. Other than, there will be days of challenges, and there will be days of success. Let’s hope the latter happens more often.

    Good luck and keep writing. It helps….

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  4. Yes. I will not be as long winded or preachy as others but simply know that there are other people who feel exactly like you. We have friends/accquaintences who have the best kids who are top notch athletes and Rhodes Scholars and have scholarships at the top schools. Every time we go out with them, we feel inferior to their endeavours/accomplishments. The only advice I can offer is DO NOT FALL INTO THAT TRAP. You and Mark have raised great kids the best way you can. They are becoming mature and reasonable adults and they have a sense of responsibility and maturity that cannot be measured by how many awards or accolades they git. The only person you have to satisfy or answer to is yourself and Mark. Be proud of your kids and your accomplishments and screw the rest. You have done a great job with the kids and don’t let anyone or anything diminish that accomplishment. If you don’t want to socialize with Mr & Mrs Perfect offspring, DON’T (and don’t appologize for it). You don’t have to justify yourself to them (or the rest of us).

    Of course, if we invite you over for BBQ and get turned down, I will be hurt…

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  5. Terri I have done the same thing when turning down invitations. I find it much easier than trying to explain why I just want to hang out in my home, by myself, and do whatever I want to do. Too many people think that is weird and no matter how hard I try I can’t get them to understand.

    It’s easier to tell a white lie or two… Morally correct? For me, yes.

    I work 5 days a week in a chaotic job that a couple times a week also has me working at home (like today). By the end of the workday I’ve pretty much had it with people and crave the solitude of my home.

    In school I was not a part of the “in” crowd – no where near. I did have a few friends but more often than not I was the butt of jokes or comments because I chose to be myself rather than be someone else just to be accepted. In hindsight high school was an awesome experience for me.

    Why?

    First, I survived.

    Second, and more appropriate to your post, I developed much of my creativity that was lurking in the background and found that I love hours spent in my own company. I write stories, blog, craft, garden, cook, freelance design, read, workout, work on house projects, do jigsaw puzzles and otherwise putter.

    I have siblings who are much more successful than I, so much so that I’ve always felt like a failure in comparison. But all my “me” time spent doing what makes me happy actually empowers me and confirms that I am not a failure – I am just ME! My siblings could never survive in my lifestyle, and I could not survive in theirs.

    Unfortunately for me the vast majority of the world cannot relate to my hanging out and doing what I want to do. The fact that I choose not to socialize with friends (in person) more than once every couple weeks leads to whispers of depression, looks of pity and endless suggestions of how to improve my life.

    It doesn’t need to be improved…it’s fine as it is.

    I truly hope you let this funk run its course without adding guilt to the mix. You did what you needed to do in order to not spend a night listening to chatter that disturbs you, and at the same time, you don’t have to defend your desire to enjoy a more peaceful evening.

    You’ve absolutely positively got my support!!! :-)

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  6. Terri…I do not have children, so I do not feel I could provide appropriate advise. Sorry. All I know is that you ARE a wonderful person and no one should be forced to be placed in a situation they are not comfortable with.

    I love you and believe in you!! ((hugs))

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  7. Uh oh, is what Terri is probably saying as she sees my name and a comment coming up! I’ll try not to be long-winded but I make no promises -you know me.
    For over 20 years, I had a friend here whose children were all fairly close in age to mine. I saw things going on in her life that rang a bell for me because I knew from first-hand experience with my ex that her husband had a problem with alcohol but when I drew a couple correlations, she informed me that no, no problems like that at all with him. However, a few years later, in a divorce that took forever to get settled, she then conceded that yes, he was alcoholic.
    As my children grew up -the bulk of those years with me as a single parent, working two jobs, etc., then going to college -I told my kids not to think of their Dad in anger or that he didn’t love them but rather to understand that he was sick. My friend -did nothing to explain to her children that their Dad was actually sick and as a result, he has no relationship at all with his children today whereas my three have now developed a very good, strong relationship with their dad. (The fact that my ex quit drinking 16 years ago did help immensely in that department though.)
    But as our kids grew up, graduated -three of her four went on to college, have done well since then too -not wealthy, but not poor. She has perfect adult children now as well as perfect grandchildren too. The glow never goes out as she gives all glory, laud and honor to her brood. I look at my three -my son, struggling now with problem much like his Dad’s, my older daughter working 60, sometimes 70 hours a week at her full-time job and taking on a part-time job to add maybe another 10 hours of paid work to her week and my youngest, trying to find some kind of work with hours that would be flexible enough to allow her to run both her children to the various therapy appointments each has, to deal with the various quirks each of her two little ones present with too -sometimes not so nice to see, definitely not easy to deal with when one of ‘em has a massive meltdown at a grocery store and has other customers coming to give advice, counsel, whatever.
    When I was diagnosed with cancer six years ago, “said friend” stopped calling me, stopped coming by the house for coffee and long gab fests filled with all kinds of really excellent sarcasm -something she and I both tend to excel at is using sarcasm as a mode of humor -and we used to laugh like crazy.
    My daughter has asked me why I never call this friend anymore and I told her mainly because I just can’t deal with all the perfection in her life -her second husband who is WONDERFUL, although he drinks easily just as much as did husband #1. Her children and hearing of all their excellence and terrific accomplishments. Her grandchildren who -like their parent/aunt/uncle -whatever -before them are even more perfect.

    Does this mean I love my kids less than she does? Not hardly. Does this mean I am simply a jealous old fool? Well some might say maybe to that but I know I just can’t stand to listen to all that perfection being tossed at me, right and left!

    I liked it much better when our kids were younger -much younger -and did stupid kid things that annoyed us, sure, but also that we made fun of too.

    Maybe I am just a tad paranoid -could be. Maybe too, her kids are not quite as perfect under the gilded layer they present to her, to the rest of the public too. Who knows?

    Sometimes though, others -whether by intention or non-realization -can really put a big damper on things simply by being just a bit too glowing, a little too over the top.

    I have other friends whose children have even surpassed the accomplishments of “said friend” but who do not put me off with their telling of their children or grandchildren’s wonderous abilities, never-ending accomplishments and such. So I’m thinking it isn’t all just me then.

    I think too it is human nature that we all do want to see our kids, our family, up there at the top but we don’t always see what really is the top of each child’s personal hill. I’ve been trying to see each of mine for the individual they really are, deep down inside and accepting them for that person. I know you do that with all three of yours too -I’ve heard you, seen it in your writings about them. And I do think if one is having a bit of a funk passing over their heads and gets invited out for an occasion that just doesn’t ring true to them at that point in time, sometimes, a little white lie is necessary -if you want to/plan to continue in an other aspect of the friendship. Not everyone would really see their actions as you or I may when they do these things and might possibly resent the utmost truth being put in their faces then either.

    But as to the grandchildren, well until this evening, mine were both perfect -that is until Miss Maya had a massive meltdown at the grocery store and we left feeling that we had been responsible for our own version of an Autism Awareness presentation for the benefit of the help and customers -or perhaps we’ll be cited for cruel and unusual punishment to those same people too. As of tonight, Maya is no longer going to be allowed to go to that store with either her mother or me -and if/when she is allowed to go with us, there will be no riding in the special “CAR Cart” -that much is for damned sure! We can laugh a bit about this now but sure was in no mood to laugh about it when it happened, ya know!

    Kids! What are ya supposed to do besides just love ‘em, warts and all? Now go relax and try to find a way to help you funk mosey off and far away from you!

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  8. I completely understand how it is. For our son at this point it’s still not a given we’ll get him through high school, and if we can, we’ve already discussed tech schools instead of college, maybe even an apprenticeship.

    My biggest obstacle was to respect his goals for his future and not be disappointed that his expectations were not mine. He has a plan, and I needed to focus on that. Other people’s opinions don’t mean anything.

    You’ve got great kids, who are growing into great adults. It’s all in your perspective.

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  9. Terri, I understand where you are coming from. No one’s children are perfect, even the perfect children. Everyone has warts, even if they are well hidden.
    I love my girls more than life itself. I know they love me. Yet, my daughter who is in college miles away and I made each other cry today. We cleared up the misunderstanding quickly, but still, we cried. We caused each other pain.
    My husband and I have tried to raise good kids and I think, for the most part we have succeeded. Are they perfect? No, of course not. They don’t have to be. They never will be.
    I can understand you wanting to stay home to avoid the stories about perfect children. Have I lied to friends when I was not in the mood to hear their stories or because I just needed to stay home and just be. Sometimes it’s so hard to be “on,” to joke and laugh and be social. Sometimes, it’s too much. I hardly ever let people see the real me because, like my kids, I am not perfect either.
    BTW, grade school and high school were not great for me for many, many reasons including cruel classmates. For the oldest, grade school was a nightmare. She was the sqaure peg people tried pounding into a round whole. She faced more cruel classmates than I could count. She blossomed in high school and is absolutely soaring in college. I’m proud of her, for overcoming her cruel classmates and becoming her own woman.
    I guess the bottom line is, like you, I love my imperfect children.
    I wish your son all the best. I hope you’re funk disappears soon.

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  10. Don’t worry about this Terri. We find our way at different paces and in different ways.

    In last week’s post, I made an oblique reference to the fact that in college my profile was higher than in high school. An understatement.

    In junior high and in high school until I was fairly low in the hierarchy until I was a sophomore. That year, I made the junior , and the next year, the regular varsity basketball teams and that raised my profile. Academically, I graduated with a 2.5 GPA.

    In college, where I had no past, but a lot of confidence from what I did in high school (practicing for hours a day for months) to make the team, I was a rocket.

    By the end of my junior year, I was the undisputed BMOC on that campus, to both students and faculty/staff. I enjoyed college level education and ended with a 3.5 GPA at the second most selective college in Florida at the time. (I think I only got in because I had good SAT which belied my poor GPA and I was from overseas, and they wanted student diversity.)

    That was behind my saying college was a “transforming and soaring” experience for me.
    Since then, I’ve known I can do anything I set out to do.

    Jake will make his way in his own way and time.
    I used to make the comparisons. But we are all different, so comparisons are irrelevant.

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  11. You already know these two things, but I a going to say them anyway…

    1. Generally speaking, these people are going to only tell you the good things about their kids. The “cell phone” charges, missing money and all the assorted stuff stays in the house. Do not be fooled.

    2. After going to my 20 year reunion, I had a chance to witness all of these same kinds of people…I was a “unique” child growing up.

    Keep plugging away…and do things on YOUR terms.

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  12. I see no problem at all in turning down an invitation by telling a white lie. If you don’t want to go – don’t go. You’re a grown up and have earned the right to decide what you will and won’t do and maybe even get in a funk now and again. I think at the moment any white lie you tell is simpler than telling the truth because the truth may just prompt more questions at a time when you just want to retreat into your shell.

    As for the comparisons? We’ve all done that too. You may be surprised to learn how some of the people with perfect children are comparing themselves to you and your family. Trust me – they are, because it’s human nature to make comparisons. I figured out early on that parents are full of the old braggadosio. It’s great that their kids are this that and the other but you can be sure that they will be lacking in some other aspect because humans (despite what their parents may like to think) are not perfect creatures.

    The school system tends to push into the spotlight those who are academically gifted (not surprisingly), those who are athletic and those who are confident social butterflies. Those who are the talented artists, the quiet listeners and the ‘hands on’ types are completely overlooked and yet they may provide the biggest contribution in our communities.

    With regard to your son, if you are starting to become concerned at his lack of activity towards what direction to take next, then I’d definitely help him out. He may have no idea what he actually wants to do and it may well be that an apprecticeship at something hands-on like mechanics, plumbing or electrical work may suit him better than more time spent struggling with academia. Who knows? He may need the green light from you to go into something like this. He may even also be struggling with his own comparisons.

    If you ever fall into the ‘comparison trap’ again, just remember that some of the world’s multi millionaires actually started off with little education and selling their wares off a market barrow, so academic achievement isn’t the be all and end all of life. We all take different paths to get where we are ultimately meant to be.

    You’re very sweet Terri – too good for your own good, I think. You’re not selfish, there is nothing wrong with you and you have every reason to be proud, of both yourself and your family.

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      • This P.S. look like a “white lie”, eh?
        I believe you meant every word you wrote.

        And Terri, the quality of your comments seems to be improving here. People (most, not all) seem to actually read what you have written, before responding with an opinion, worth reading by others.

        Recently, another blogger and I lamented at comments on one of the finest bloggers online, out of Virginia. The posts are extraordinary, and a sideline effort, as the blogger works full time.

        The Blog has hundreds of followers.
        Typical comments:

        “You da man!”

        “WOW!”

        “Best. Post. Ever.”

        When you read such mind numbing blather 50 times to find a comment worth reading AND related to the post, you do what my friend emailed me and said: “I stopped reading the blog because I was tired of wading through 50 comments of ‘kiss ups’ every day”.

        I stopped reading the blog too…due to comment idiocy.

        In comments here so far, it seems that folks forget that you said you vacation with this couple every year. This seems at variance to spending a night with them, when you spend a vacation annually with them.

        No one has commented on Mark being mad.
        Perhaps he would have preferred a “little white truth” being told, since vacation will come next year with this couple. Or was he mad at the unilateral decision to skip out?

        Last, I took a year off after high school myself, for I was just tired of study and the nonsense.
        I moved across country to AZ, found a job, a place to stay, but was too young to buy a car, (you had to be 21, not 18). So I flew to PA, my brother-in-law bought a car, and I made the monthly payments, after driving back to AZ and work.

        Two full time jobs for 80 hours a week total, at minimum wage was not doing the trick. I loved the Grand Canyon every weekend, and no snow in Phoenix all week—in the 80’s at Christmas.
        Steaks on the grill by the pool beat out chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

        But I learned I needed an education to make more money. (Mexicans worked for free just to be here; can’t compete with free).
        I returned to PA for college as it was cheaper, and ASU girls would be a definite distraction. In PA, it gets cold and they bundle up and look like walking caterpillars. The lust factor declines and the study genes kick in.
        Oh to be 18 again!
        Jake will be fine, because he already is!

        I am enjoying your comment section for the first time with this post. People are saying meaningful thoughts. I had trouble following only one, but took the time for a re-read.
        And I am glad I did.

        I am still totally unfamiliar with your history, followers, and posts at all. But this one has the best comments I have read in my brief foray to your family and life. I am enjoying the genuine responses to a Post immensely.

        Will you vacation with this couple next year, given your true feelings about them as posted here? Did Mark forgive you last night?
        And the “white lie approvals” here….how do you feel when one is said to you, and you eventually find out? You crack me up!
        :) Keystone

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        • Keystone, I know the white lie bothers you, but I do believe the white lie was less hurtful than had I told the truth…that my own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity prevented me from feeling comfortable with this group on this particular occassion. I don’t always feel that way. I was just in a funk yesterday and I let my own emotions dictate my actions. Although we vacation with these people every year, the friendship doesn’t go deep enough for me to divulge how responsible I feel about the hurdles my child has faced so far. It’s not the kind of thing that I’ve discussed easily with many people, unless I know they’ve been down a similar path. I also don’t know that other people feel as ruled by their emotions as I sometimes do, and I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable by admitting I had feelings that I myself feel are not necessarily justified. I feel the white lie was better. And the lie I told ended up coming true anyway. And Mark? Mark was cool with it. He didn’t want to force me to be in a place that would just make me feel worse than I was already feeling. Everyone’s feelings were spared and another time, we will socialize without me experiencing any of the insecurities I was feeling yesterday.

          Writing this post made me feel better, if for no other reason than to get it off my chest. But even better, I found that others sympathize…even understand where I’m coming from. And that’s what I needed to know. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what I did was right. I know it wasn’t. But it was understood.

          And thanks again for such insightful and in-depth comments! :-)

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  13. Hey there Terri! Can I just assure you that we’ve all been there in one way or another, and NOT sound like I’m “just saying that”? It’s true. Although I am a pretty social person, I turn down invitations all the time for reasons just like these. I like the person, but don’t think I can be around her alcoholic/highly annoying husband for 5 more minutes. Or the couple who invites us over just to show us all the big new expensive things they just bought for their kids…that all the kids in the neighborhood will now be begging their parents for. Or the group of friends who do everything together and always invite us…but sometimes I just don’t feel like being “on”. I want to be at home where I don’t have to be social and perky. Anyway, you know what I’m saying. It’s ok if you didn’t feel like going. Chances are, next time you’ll feel fine about it and be glad to go. You just weren’t up for it at that time. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. You have fantastic kids, and you and Mark have done a great job! And you know what? I bet they all think you have fantastic kids too… :)

    Hugs to you, my friend. Tomorrow is a new day!

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  14. Like someone else said (and there are some really LONG comments here… I didn’t read hardly any!), THIS is why we have blogs.

    Weird, I was just thinking about the silly “one upMOMship” that goes on with some of the other moms I know. It gets so old. And if the conversation with your friends centers too much on this, then I think you have the right to turn down an invitation or two from them.

    No one has perfect kids, but I totally understand what you’re going through. We can’t help but compare. Personally, the “perfect” kids bore me. There, I said it.

    Jake marches to a different drummer than the “perfect” kids. So what?

    Each of my kids certainly has his own quirks, believe me! I prefer to say that they have “personality”.

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  15. Terri, I found your blog through this post and am glad I did. I wish we could sit and talk about our kids! LOL

    My oldest daughter was one of those superstar kids when she was little, top of her class and talented and lovable–then somewhere in her teens she turned into (forgive me) such a loser. LOL Just dropped every ball that came her way, and now she didn’t get into any college out of pure laziness, and after three months of nagging to get a job, she’s working at a temp agency. And you’re right, we still love her to bits but just dread any conversation about kids—especially when my best friend in the whole world has one of those perfect ones. ARGH! But I love him too anyway, so oh well.

    We won’t even talk about my youngest kids! LOL But yeah, some gatherings are tough to take. I think it was a good call not going to the party; faking it can be too hard, until it becomes depressing, and the very last thing we need is *depressing*. If your husband wanted to go, pfft, he should have gone—but I’d be home too in that case.

    Nope, you’re not alone. Your son sounds like a sweet kid from what you’re saying, and who knows when all those all-stars will burn out anyhow. I think you’re right with the insight that we’re in mourning for a dream that didn’t happen. Well, it will pass.

    Good luck to your son in finding whatever it is he wants to do now. Good luck to you too; to all of us.

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  16. I get it. I have friends like this. They think they have perfect kids, but the truth is their kids aren’t perfect. It’s just that their parents never air the dirty laundry. Let’s face it, they are teens. All teens give their parents issues. These parents just won’t admit it publicly. I’ve found that more comfortable I am who who I am and who my kids are, the less is bothers me. That and seeing their kids demonstrate bad behavior that the parents don’t acknowledge (at least publicly) and pretend never happened. I’ve also found that I have friends who do acknowledge and ‘get me’ and my family one another level (an honest one). That’s precious.

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  17. I think you are being too hard on yourself. I’ve been less than truthful to avoid a social situation that I was not in the mood for. A white lie is sometimes kinder than letting it all out and possibly changing or ending a friendship.

    Your true friends will not judge you by the accomplishments of your children and their “perfect” kids probably are not all that!

    I can see that by the long comments everyone has been leaving, you have a lot of blog friends that relate and care about you.

    I find as I get older, I am less self-conscious, more comfortable in my skin and don’t worry so much what others might think about me.

    By the way, I think that Jake is going to surprise you. Some of the most successful adults had rocky starts before they hit the big time!

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  18. First off, you have done a great job with your kids, especially Jake. Don’t you EVER feel that you have failed him in any way!

    We had years of probing questions about our eldest daughter – why were we home schooling her, was she really happy, did she have any friends, etc. We got sick and tired of answering after a while. We just knew that we were doing the best for her, and were proved right when she went to college and waltzed through her courses while other kids who had been to school struggled.

    We can only do our best for our kids – you have certainly done that and it is clear from what you write on this blog just how successful you have been.

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  19. I feel that way A LOT. And I often turn down events because I dont feel like being judged by the other people or being made to feel inferior in some way.

    And even if that IS “My Issue” I have other friends that DO NOT make me feel that way, and Id much rather spend my time with them doing the things I enjoy doing.

    And I totally understand not having the strength to FAKE IT sometimes!

    xoxoxo

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  20. Don’t blame you a bit!! Perfection is way overrated!! :)

    Having a giveway for a skateboard this week in memory of my 17 year old grandson who passed away one year this Weds. if you or any of your friends are interest. This is NOT for perfect kids. :)

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  21. Honey WE ALL feel that way. The ones who don’t are faking it!!!

    I bet you they don’t have the perfect kids at all. They will have their issues just like all of us have our own issues and our kids do.

    That couple just puts on a happy face despite it and doesn’t get too real with themselves or you.

    Do not let this get you down as your son if ‘perfectly’ made. He may not be perfect, but heck who likes perfect?! It’s okay that he’s taking time off. After struggling through high school, if I’d been him, I WOULD TOO. Some of the most successful contributors to our society, have taken their time off too. Some never went to college! College isn’t for everyone. I know your son is going to find his way, as you know it too. You’ve not gone wrong with him, as he knows you’re his number one supporter … and that’s all he needs.

    Hang in there girl…love you!

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  22. Came in late on the discussion. Sorry.
    two thoughts: 1) My wife and I were unable to have children. Consider yourself blessed by the child you have. 2) No need to lie to get out of an invitation. Simply say, “Sorry, we won’t be there this time.”

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  23. Terri– I don’t think perfect little “Stepford Children” exist. Every child is different. It is perfectly natural for you to feel the way you do about Jake. It’s called parenting. I’ve been through a lot of the same issues with mine. They are now in their late 20s, and although the years since high school have been frustrating for us as parents, it looks like they are finally getting their acts together. It’s apparent from reading your blog that he has great parents. Keep the faith!

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  24. No one had perfect kids. They just hide it better.

    Your kids are wonderful. Its all based on love. From what I read, you love your children and they love you. What else is there to judge. Yes, they may not meet academically, or be geniuses, but in time they will bloom in thier own way. My son was horrible in High school. He owns his own business now. They will bloom when they are ready. Keep an eye on your friends perfect kids. See what happens when or IF they graduate. You’ll smile then.

    You love your children, they love you back. Whats more perfect that that. Next time you have a conversation with these pretenders, talk about love. You’ll win.
    :)

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  25. You know that I KNOW how you are feeling. Thanks for your words to me the other day, they don’t change my situation, but I breathe them in like air, and they keep me going.
    Sometimes normal is not the BEST. You and I can relate to this. We are not normal, but appear to be extraordinary. Your son is too. Keep telling yourself what is TRUE about him, and about you ! I am going to take my own advice.

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  26. Hi Terri,

    It’s been far too long…but that’s another comment/email for another time…

    Perfect kids, eh? The ones who have athletic trophies lining the mantle(s)? The ones who are all over the school yearbooks, seemingly on every other page? The kids that are just so darn wonderful? Sure…

    I know a few families like that. Here’s the brief story of two of them:

    There’s “Missy,” the straight-A student and captain of the basketball team. Scholarship offers galore…popular to a fault…when you meet her, you’re charmed beyond belief….

    She’s in jail… cocaine possession. Lots of it. Who knew? Not her parents… not her siblings… not her friends………..oops, her friends DID know. But no one was talking. “Missy” was one of those perfect kids you wrote about. The kid you see at those parties and weekend retreats is often the book cover…not the chapters.

    And then there’s “Cammie,” another straight-A student. Cheerleading, piano, dance – excels at all of them. Voted most likely to succeed and most popular in her senior class last year.

    She’s in drug and alcohol rehab. She was everyone’s sweetheart next door…the model citizen. Who knew? Not her parents… not her siblings… not her friends………..oops, her friends DID know. But no one was talking. “Cammie” was one of those perfect kids you wrote about. The kid you see at those parties and weekend retreats is often the book cover…not the chapters.

    Terri, how much do you hate those questions about where he’s going to school? Do you think it’s as much as the parents of “Missy” and “Cammie” who are fielding “How’s she doing in jail?” And “Is rehab going ok?”

    It always looks wonderful on the outside. And those close friends – the ones who tell you everything – I don’t care how close you are with them………………….they don’t always tell you everything.

    Finally Terri, I have a young family member who passes for a “Cammie.” She had everything anyone could possibly want, both academically and personally. When all was said and done, it was learned her perfect four years of high school were little more than a facade to what was really going on.

    Who knew? Not her parents… not her siblings… not her extended family… not her friends……….. oops, her friends DID know. But no one was talking.

    Finally though, she made a mistake and HAD to talk. She’s currently in the process of trying…trying…to pick up the pieces and straighten out her life. It’s still 50-50 whether or not she’ll be successful.

    The perfect one – like the two others – wasn’t so perfect after all. Not even close. Who knew?

    Now…everyone does.

    My best to your family. Fargo is always sending you good vibes.

    Christopher

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  27. I write the weddings for the newspaper and I get the Sunday NY Times and I read their announcements every Sunday – children that have multiple degrees, graduating from all the top schools, unbelieveable accomplishments for young adults- and I find it amazing that so many can be such super achievers – and in the midst of all that reading I find that I am blessed to have four grown daughters that I can call my “friends.”

    Anyway – here is a favorite poem of mine – that doesn’t just apply to “prodigals”:

    Parents of Prodigals

    They felt good eyes upon them
    and shrank within – undone;
    good parents had good children
    and they – a wandering one.

    The good folk never meant
    to act smug or condemn,
    but having prodigals
    just “wasn’t done” with them.

    Remind them gently, Lord,
    how You
    have trouble with Your children,
    too.

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  28. So… I don’t have kids… but look at me. I was always the socially-awkward kid growing up. I never did anything athletic. When I got out of high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do and spent six years working at Wal-Mart before I decided to go to a tech school and get an associate’s degree three and a half years later. Most of the people I graduated with are married and have five kids by now.

    I’m sure I put my mom into numerous awkward social situations. Doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with me. That’s just the way it was. There’s nothing wrong with feeling the way you did every once in a while. It’s human nature. Your kids are perfect just the way they are. Other people just don’t always realize that.

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