that question again…


How’s your son?

I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know where he lives, what he does. I don’t know how he is.

I don’t like to talk about it. Sometimes I literally can’t talk about it. And so I understand his inability to communicate with me. It’s genetic. In a crisis I clam up, dry up, shut up. He’s the same. It’s been a long time though, too long.

I’ve heard that he’s finished uni, that he works for a charity. I’m not sure if it’s paid or not. I’ve been told which suburb he lives in, who he flats with. Reassuring.

And there’s the beginning of a thaw. I have actually seen him four times the last two months. After so many months that’s unbelievable.

He came to my best friend’s funeral and sat two seats from me. He brought her flowers. He wore a suit. Crumpled, but a huge effort. He spoke to me voluntarily and gave me a gift from his chinese grandmother. He came to my mother’s 90th birthday celebrations – both days. And he came to visit his sister after her life changing diagnosis. I am so proud of him. He’s a wonderful young man, finding his way, rediscovering his voice.

How’s my son?

He’s well thank you, he looks great. He’s finished university, works for a charity. Every job he’s had, while studying, has been for a charity. He lives near the uni with an old schoolmate. He’ll be spending christmas with his father, in Asia.

written in response to the daily prompt : plead the fifth  ‘What question do you hate to be asked? Why?’



77 thoughts on “that question again…

  1. smile breathe and go slowly

    a courageous post. As a mother, i feel this and I hope for continued thawing 🙂

  2. I know this is a subject that brings pain but you put some thoughts into my head with this one. For most of my adult life while my mother was still alive I was estranged from her due to her alcoholism and the fact that growing up I was blamed and abused for almost everything wrong in her life-mostly as an extension of my father who was the real evil, or so she thought.
    Your post made me wonder if she ever had thoughts as you do regarding your son, about me. Did she care? Did she miss having any relationship with me at all or was she so involved in her next drink that she really had no clue? Would she have ever put the positive spin on our relationship that you just did, by taking the information you do have and acknowledging that it is a small glimpse of hope, however vague those visits and interaction may be?
    Nothing was ever resolved before her death and that time in my life is always tucked away because there’s just too much speculation about how she really felt or didn’t feel.
    Above all else, let your son know that you love him. It will be the biggest gift you can give both him and yourself.

    • thank you so much for sharing that Debbie. I’m sorry it wasn’t resolved and I hope your mother felt as I do…
      I tell him all the time, every way that I can, that I love him – there is no judgement, I miss him.
      I don’t know how many of my ways get through of course..but the message is heard, I’ve been told.

  3. This is so honest, thank you for sharing…

  4. Oh, this got to me – made me cry. Wishing you and your son well – so hard this parent thing.

  5. I hope things work themselves out soon.

  6. oh I guess the question I hate is, were you ever married/why didn’t you get married?

  7. We sons are terrible to our mothers. I know I could have been better to mine.

    My daughter has told me she hopes at least one of her sons is gay, reasoning that gay sons remain closer to their mothers after they leave the nest.

    My wife and I see our son only occasionally, though he lives within ten miles of us. He is closer to his wife’s family than his own, or at least sees them more.

    It’s a conundrum with multiple causes, some of them societal, some of them familial, some of them genetic.

    I would never give advice, but will give my best to you. 🙂

  8. such a beautiful post. and one that every family can identify with. thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. Annie, this is great! And this is what touched me most: “I am so proud of him. He’s a wonderful young man, finding his way, rediscovering his voice.” You, too, are finding your way, rediscovering your voice, and are wonderful. Like son, like mom! xoxoM

  10. I applaud you. Standing ovation! Thank you for sharing this part of life.

  11. Children is the question. Hard to answer for parent. Thanks for sharing.

  12. He sounds like a beautiful person… and that’s a great thing…you are his mother and you always will be. : )

  13. You will find a way back to each other. It’s obvious how much you love him, that love will bring him back. Beautiful post!

  14. Bravo!
    You need to bridge the gap – but to do this, both ‘banks’ need to agree!

  15. If I was close enough I would hug you.

  16. Hugs, hugs, and another hug. You are not the only one with an estranged relative. There is an online forum for people who are experiencing this. Nearly always connected with a divorce. The good news is he is re-establishing contact pretty substantially. I admire you! Hang in there. He’s growing up and that can be hard. Cheers & positive thoughts are flying your way!

  17. Sounds like your son is doing exactly what he needs to find himself AND to help you find yourself too, Annie. This post is beautiful. I love your unconditional love, your honesty, and your ability to let your son be. If you ask me, it sounds like your son is paying tribute to you with his life–“Every job he’s had, while studying, has been for a charity.”
    I agree with Tim above–sons don’t always treat their mothers the way they should. You could probably just say men don’t treat women…
    {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

    • Thanks Kozo, yes I think he’s done a good job of stabilising himself and growing up the last few years…
      I appreciate your words so much, I count you and Tim among some wise, caring men I’ve been lucky enough to meet. x

  18. Amazing and moving post, Annie. Having two sons about the same age I really feel for you…

  19. […] that question again… ( […]

  20. The question I am most uncomfortable with is the same one that you wrote about except mine is a daughter. I’ve come to learn that estrangement is a silent plague which has many loving parents suffering. I want to write more about my situation (I alluded to it in my Spectrum of Motherhood post) but I’m conflicted about being too public about it since I want to respect my daughter’s privacy. I haven’t resolved the conflict. I do think it would be helpful to so many people to be able to share more openly about this most painful circumstance. In any case, I wish you the best no matter what form that turns out to be! Lots of love coming your way! 🙂

    • Hi Lea, I re-read your post and I didn’t pick up on that 🙂
      I understand your conflict…I hit publish very quickly on this post because to think too much I wouldn’t do it…times are that I can’t even talk about it but it’s getting better and better. And this post has the most hits/comments – the comments help me but obviously there are others out there to be helped and that’s a huge bonus of me speaking out.
      I speak out quite anonymously though…my name is not here, family doesn’t read…I write to tell MY story, not his, you’re correct it’s not our place to do that, and of course I can’t anyway..writing has helped with healing…and time is bringing him back slowly.
      Best wishes for a positive outcome for you too 🙂

      • That’s good that my post was somewhat vague…. (I guess :)) I spoke of some children who reject mothers even when they are good mothers and later in the post I said I had experienced all aspects of motherhood. 😦 I considered blogging anonymously but decided against it. Obviously I’m still confused about that. Since there are mothers who mistreat their children, it’s easy to get all tangled up in the judgment of others. Part of what I’d like to do is model how to stay grounded in integrity as I process the pain (and joy) of life. Sometimes hurtful things happen to us even when we haven’t “done” something to “deserve” to be hurt. As I open up about it, I really am learning how common it is. Anyway, I think that the lesson to be learned is to accept. I work to accept that my daughter feels what she feels for her reasons. I accept that she may or may not make a different choice about how to respond to her feelings. I accept that my life has value no matter what she or anyone does. I accept the hurt and realize that I get to choose how to proceed, no matter what… Thanks listening. 🙂

        • For me it’s very personal. Perhaps it’s longer for you or you’ve thought way deeper – I don’t know and am not asking…but when you mention about ‘easy to get all tangled up in the judgement of others’ that doesn’t even factor in for me..

          Have to say I’m considering deleting the post, even the blog, the attention this post is getting is somewhat uncomfortable..

          I have no judgement for my son, unconditional love, but can never accept not having him in my life and will gently continue trying to bridge that gap..

  21. […] to Bodhisattvaintraining‘s post: That Question […]

  22. […] that question again… | bodhisattvaintraining […]

  23. At least you are making some progress with your son and that is a good start…

  24. I imagine that this was hard to write, but thanks for sharing.

  25. What a valiant post. Beautifully written – I could feel your emotion.

  26. this is a very courageous post – best wishes for 2013 !

  27. This is simply eloquent. A close friend of mine has had great difficulty with her kids, bordering on complete estrangement. All she can do is be patient, and let them know whenever possible that she is there for them, and loving them. She is gradually seeing more of her daughter, which makes her hopeful. You sound like you are handling the situation very well, with love and patience and maturity. I wish you the very best.

  28. Another beautiful post, and my heart aches for you. As a mother, my heart aches.

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