We Both Go To College

Chapter 48 of book Seizure Mama and Rose by Flower Roberts(Amazon)

After Rose’s graduation from high school, she enrolled to take classes at the local community college. She started out with just one class called College Success. It had been a rocky summer. We had traveled across the country to the famous clinic in hopes of a more effective treatment. We had waited weeks for our “No-hope Diagnosis.” There were still some seizures and side effects. I had previously quit my teaching job at the middle school to take Rose to our favorite nearby hospital for another stay in the EMU. Rose and I both were starting over.
I had taught night classes at this college years before, so I applied to do that again. I had not taught at this level for over a decade. Ironically, I had quit my job teaching biology there when Rose’s epilepsy had started when she was four years old. Now I was back again, taxiing Rose to class and hanging out around campus in case she needed me.
Our first day of college was a horrible beginning to the semester. Rose was always a little behind schedule back then. It took extra effort to get her anywhere on time. We barely made it to her first class. I sat down on a bench outside the classroom to study the lesson I would use for my own first class. This is when I noticed that I was wearing my house shoes. Here I was at my new place of employment on the first day of class, walking around campus in my bright purple house shoes. So much for a professional first impression.
This first class for Rose was a struggle. She was on the new “good” drug from Germany, but also on a new “bad” drug that made her unreasonable and stubborn. The arguments we had during this terrible period were nonsensical and embarrassing for me. It was like she was going through the terrible-twos and terrible-teens at once.
Sometimes our conflicts occurred in public. I handled these as best I could, but many times I had to leave the scene. They were humiliating confrontations. We never knew when these strange tiffs were coming. Rose had become a bully and I was becoming a defensive witch.
After a particularly brutal confrontation in front of my boss and the dean at the college, I moved out of our house- first to my parents’ vacation home, and then to my son’s apartment. I honestly had no intention of ever living in the same house with Rose again. I was her taxi, cook, wallet, and maid, not her mother. All my enabling had reduced me to nothing except her useful possession. She had no respect for me. There were no limits to her demands.
During my weeks-long vacation from Rose, I was amazed at how easy it was to be by myself and go places alone. No struggles. No arguments. Just me deciding what I wanted to do and doing it. I felt the emotional draining stop and I started to heal and be strong and separate. I was still me under there!
During my hiatus, my husband took Rose to look at a small apartment near the college. He did not mention her moving out ahead of time. She freaked out because she thought we were throwing her out of the house. Rose does not like change. She considers her messy, crowded room her sanctuary. This trip to the rental property was traumatizing to her. I think she realized that she was about to divide our family, not just hurt me. It was the first time she ever considered the thought of leaving home. She was nineteen years old at the time.

Seizure Mama speaks to parents:

It is hard to keep appropriate boundaries when the person in need is your child. It is especially hard when your child has a disability. This humiliating at the college was my “Waterloo.” I had always run block for Rose, so that she had fewer hurdles to get over, but my handling her issues for her sent the message that she could not do it herself. Instead of appreciation, enabling caused anger towards me and herself.
This was unfair to her and to all the other folks she has relationships with. I have spent these last few years “standing down” and letting her get through her own struggles. She has become more independent. It has been a relief for us both.
Enabling is a hard habit to break, but you MUST do this. If your child can tie his/her own shoes, then he/she must be expected to tie his/her shoes everyday. It is your child’s responsibility. This precious “baby” of yours must be expected to do whatever he/she is capable of doing. Do not make him or her needlessly dependent on others. Nobody likes needy and greedy.
You are a separate individual. Keep appropriate boundaries. Set a realistic example. Get a team to help. This is your life, too.

Author: Flower Roberts


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