My son, the last one left at home, moved out this morning. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. I don’t know if it was a mistake. I just let him go.
I raised my son the first six years of his life. I let him go live with his father when he was still very young, after he convinced me that it would be in the best interest of our child for me to let him go. I was raising my first two children from my first marriage without child support, working, struggling to make ends-meet, and have to admit it was tough. This second husband I wanted rid of so badly I pretty much signed with my blood on the divorce papers to be done with it. I agreed to $300 a month, which just covered child care expenses so I could work. When he met his current wife who had a child of her own closer to our sons age, and they set up house-keeping, he convinced me that they could provide him with a better life than I could, and that I would be selfish if I didn’t allow him the opportunity to benefit from it. I hesitated, but eventually relented. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was being unselfish and a good mother.
My ex-husband and I fought viciously after that. He found leverage in which to control me by having this child, and used it as often as he possibly could. I should have seen it coming. He was an asshole when we were married, and didn’t want the divorce in the first place. We shared joint custody, I was a good mother so he couldn’t stop me from seeing him, but lets just say I put up with a lot of unnecessary crap because he held the reins. I allowed it though. I was tough enough to take it. As long as my son was being taken care of, I could tolerate the shit. During this time though, there were several instances where my son returned to live with me for a short time when his step-monster would throw a fit about something, but he always returned back to them because they were what he knew.
After I moved to the country six and a half years ago, got situated, married, I wanted my son to come live with us. He did try it for about six months, but it didn’t pan out, he hated the kids at the school, hated the boredom of the country, and returned to them again. By then I’d already realized I’d made a grave mistake by allowing him to be with his father in the first place, because he was showing signs of being very argumentive, had low self-esteem, and I felt they were belittling him and punishing him too much. It mattered little what I thought though. He was a city kid, wanted to return to the city, and I let him go. I felt he would be unhappier if I made him stay with me.
My son returned to live with me again a little over a year ago. He had gotten older, was bigger, and had begun to stand up for himself to his dad. Fights ensued often. Police were called plenty. My son ran away. Finally the only resolution, whether he liked it or not, was to return to me till he was 18. His father said he didn’t want him anymore. My son no longer had a choice. His father told me “He’s your problem now.”
This problem as my ex-husband put it, was enrolled in school a year behind his peers–as he had failed the previous year from all the problems with his father–and excelled after. For the last year he has done well in school, never skipped once, made new friends, has never broken curfew, and has followed the rules better than most children have. His only real problem…his mouth. He had grown so accustomed to being defensive to all the negative input from his father and step-monster, that once he was with us everything became an argument and battle of the wills. He’d gotten so used to being blamed for everything, that it taught him to not take responsibility for anything. He truly thinks he is right in everything he says and does. Needless to say this hasn’t flown well with me, and here we are now.
My son informed me the other day that he is moving out when he turns 18 and in with a gentleman he stayed with before that is like family, whom he considers a grandfather. This gentleman lives in the city near where my son grew up, my son said he wants to return to his old high school, and convinced me that he would be a big help to this gentleman as he’s getting on in years. I do know that whenever he needs something done to his house, my son jumps to the task for him. Then last night, after another heated argument, he informed me he wanted to leave now. I told him fine, go, and went to bed. I woke up this morning and all his things were packed and sitting on the living room floor. I could’ve made him stay. Legally that is my right as his parent till he’s 18. I didn’t. I made him promise to stay out of trouble, make sure once I enrolled him in school he followed through with it, told him to text me everyday, and with much trepidation watched him take his things to the car and leave. I sit here now battling with myself wondering if I did the right thing. He’s excited about going back, starting school with all his old friends, getting a parttime job, making all his own decisions, and sees it as an adventure. I told him that I would give him his child support that he is rightfully entitled to till he’s 19 as long as he stays in school, to show I’m trying to be supportive in this. Then why do I feel so awful? Is it just my own guilt at feeling that I have to let him go again? A part of me says not to worry, he’ll be back as soon as he finds out that it’s rougher out there than he thinks. A part of me says to worry because I’m letting my baby go out into the world basically unsupervised. He’ll be 18 in four months. My question…did I do the right thing…or am I letting him go too soon?