May 18, 2005

Stuck in the Middle

Not for the first time, I recently found myself playing the role of mediator between The Boy and his father. They were having communication issues, leaving his dad feeling unappreciated and The Boy feeling defensive.

Neither of them hesitate to bitch to talk to me about their relationship with the other. I suppose it makes sense since I know them both well. Part of me welcomes it because I feel somewhat responsible for the quality of their relationship.

After all, if it wasn't for our marriage splitting up because I'm a lesbian, The Boy and his dad would have lived in the same house while he grew up. Surely that would have promoted a closer personal relationship and better on-going communication between them. Every family that remains together in a traditional familial unit produces wonderfully adjusted children and parents who all communicate honestly and openly, never a cross word or a hurt feeling between them.

That is the way it works, isn't it?

Yeah well. That's not really the way it works but I still feel responsible for their communication difficulties. Guilt and I go way back, oh yes yes we do.

Thankfully there's Wendy to chastise me for giving any real life to that premise. She reminds me how hard we worked to ensure The Boy and his father maintained close contact. It wasn't just us working hard. The entire family on both sides pitched in. Here is where I again give thanks for my family, immediate and extended. Our lives would be so much different without having had their support.

What's interesting now is to see how alike the two of them are, father and son. I think it may actually complicate communication because they respond the same way to injury, perceived or actual. They are both sensitive caring individuals yet oh so male.

I like watching them together. The Boy towers over his dad, having gotten his height from my side of the family. He has my eyes, but his broad shoulders and wide feet reflect his father. The blonde in his hair is mine, but it grows on his chest in the same pattern as his dad's does. They look like bookends sitting next to one another playing guitar, the same set to their jaw and tilt of their head. Their gestures, speech patterns, sense of humor; there is just no mistaking the similarities. Oh and their handwriting! Their illegible scribbles are interchangeable. Genes are powerfully persuasive.

They so want to relate to each other better. I hear the frustration in both their voices. So I listen. And gently prod. I remind his dad to think back to when we were nineteen and of how different, how much more together, our boy is from who we were at that age. We talk about his own father and how the two of them related back then.

I advise The Boy to be honest, to share his feelings, that his dad will listen and understand. Then I cross my fingers, despite knowing that yes, his father will understand. A little insurance never hurts!

I feel like a therapist, while wishing I had one myself. But still. I'll be there for either of them if they need me and be grateful for the chance to be there at all. Some things are just worth the effort.

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10 comments:

The Lioness said...

I have nothing to offer other than the fact that I enjoy the way you talk abt your family so much.

Elizabeth said...

You did everything you could considering the circumstances and now it's up to them. I imagine you'll always feel the need to mediate but perhaps you should do the mini-tough love thing and let them deal with it as adults and also realize that it's part of the passage of fathers and sons. T is going through the same thing right now with his dad.

If they had a good foundation all this will pass and they'll turn out to be great friends.

Men tend to not be patient but Dad needs to be patient.

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned."... Mark Twain

Kristina said...

Sweetie, don't beat yourself up over any relationship problems between The Boy and his dad. It's completely natural and would happen regardless of your living situation. Hell, I haven't spoken to my parents since 1996 and they're still married! Of course, they're both psychotic...

Mel said...

A heart-warming post, if ever there was one. It made me think of my own dad and my brother--so much alike, they could never understand each other at all. They needed Suzanne the Suburban Lesbian Therapist to help them out, I think.

weese said...

Even tho you are in the middle.. its good. Its good he feels so comfortable with you that he can tell you these things.
He's a good boy. You're a good mom.

Dara said...

Toss the guilt and keep doing what you're doing. You're doing a great job, keeping the lines open and helping them communicate with one another.

Heather said...

Sounds like you're doing a damn fine job of supporting them as best you can.

And hey - you don't have a corner on the guilt thing!

Gina said...

I have the feeling that even if for whatever reason you were still married to the Boy's Father, you would probably still have to run interference some of the time.

Sometimes it is tough dealing with the same-sex parent. You are good to listen to both of them and prod them a little.

Ok, maybe a lot. Men sometimes need a lot of prodding! To paraphrase a wise woman, "Men can be such ungrateful twits!"

;)

Eyes said...

You are a blessing!! How lucky the Boy and his father are to have you. Wow.

You are so balanced!!

Give Self a hug for me.

Career Guy said...

Yup--balance. I concur. I also like your maturity. No, really.