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Stressed out by mom’s divorce

My mom is going through a hard time, and I’m so busy helping with my brothers that there’s no time left for me.

Talk to your mother, says our elder. And remember, this is short term and things will get better.

Dear EWC

My mother is going through her second divorce and it entailed taking all of her kids (four including me, being the eldest), and heading far away from my problematic and narcissistic stepfather. Today she was told that the divorce papers have been served to him and she isn’t acting too positively with the aftermath of it. I want to be supportive of her but she’s been inadvertently putting more and more stress on me. I try to stand in to help out with my little brothers whenever I can muster enough patience to handle it, considering that one of them has autism. The youngest also copies a lot of the things that the autistic one does because they are close in age and he thinks it’s really funny. Is there any way that I can find time for ‘me time’ without my mom thinking that I’m just trying to avoid helping out or that I’m not grateful for how hard she is working to help my brothers and me?

Lincoln-Parker replies

The fact that you understand how much your mother cares about you and your siblings is wonderful. With that, you must also understand:
That what she is going through at this point is putting a great deal of additional strain on her because of her concern about her family. She feels like her life choices are impacting your ability to enjoy your young life experiences. She is trying to figure out how she can get through this with minimum impact on you. While she is doing that, she wants you to go on with your life the best you can.
This is all short-term; she will figure it out.

While you should try to help mom out as best you can during this period, I doubt that she wants you to put your young life on hold. While she is figuring out what is next, she certainly appreciates that you may go a little above the norm in helping out with your siblings and being sympathetic in understanding, but that is all that she probably expects of you. She certainly wants you to have your ‘me time’ and is probably upset knowing the additional stress that this is putting on the family. Your stress could add to hers.
Talk to her. Let her know that you understand what she is going through. Tell her that you want to help, but you need to know when and how you are needed; you also want to know what is most important to her so you can decide when you can feel free to do your own things. She doesn’t expect you to be ‘on call’ all of the time, but there are times when she will need help. Take on those times to give her some relief and give yourself some clarity on what she wants — and remember that it is only short term and things will get better
You sound like a wonderful kid that any mom would be proud to have. Work with her while she puts this stressful time behind her and the family.

Letter #: 449856
Category: Family

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