Courage to Change the Things I Can…

Compounding last week’s events, the last few days haven’t been so hot either. I guess I’m feeling resigned, if not frustrated. Basically, my son failed out of college and we’re trying to figure out where to go from here. The last thing we need to do is coddle him or scream at him. He’ll be 20 years old next month and he’s made his “adult” choices and has to figure out how to live with them.

But like I said, I feel sort of resigned. It’s done. The official letter from the school came this morning. There’s nothing my husband or I can do to reverse the bad grades or the choices our son made to get them. All I can do now is let my kid know I love him and will help him navigate what decisions he has to make (if he wants help) and that he is always welcome to come home for a meal and to visit.

There really is no way to feel anything but terrible about this situation.

Sometime last week I started writing a lengthy post about my irritation with healthy living/fitness blogs that espouse “everyone’s body is different, this works for me” when justifying some of their weirder food restrictions and exercise habits. But I’ve decided to hold off on posting it, maybe indefinitely, because I’m snippy due to my family circumstances. I think I have an excessively critical eye because it gives me something to be annoyed with that is neither my son nor myself. It is a concern I’ve had about how these portrayals of healthy living can be dangerous for both the blogger and their audience. However, I want to be at least somewhat objective and less bitchy if I’m going to be somewhat controversial.

I’m painfully aware that this is shaky ground for my alcoholism, feeling like I’ve failed parenting. While I am unlikely to pick up a drink, I have to watch myself about using my running as a way to beat myself up. I am trying to relax about that. I still want to hit my training paces, but I’m not going to run myself through the shredder if my anxiety makes it harder to do so.

I did have a good long-ish easy run on Tuesday. I went in with low expectations, but I felt pretty great. My heart rate was back to where it should be, and my pace was significantly faster than my aborted run on Sunday. Comparing pace and HR, on Sunday by mile 8 I was running a 10:06 pace and my HR was 155. On Tuesday, my 8th mile was an 8:01 with close to the same HR. My average heart rate for the Sunday run was 146 and it was 145 on Tuesday, which is well within my easy/long run HR zone, and I was pushing a bit at the end of the run on Tuesday because I felt good. Just goes to show that stress really does have an impact on performance.

Yesterday I was able to get outside for an easy run. It was about 36 degrees with a 10 mph wind. I wore a new getup from Asics that I scored for $50 (black capris and a warm zip jacket in a gorgeous shade of turquoise) that worked great for the temps. Several sections of the park were still icy, which slowed me down and were hard on my perpetually tight calf muscles. I didn’t look at my watch and just breathed in the fresh air. Just before I hit 4 miles, I realized that even though this was not my best run by a long shot, I felt good, like I was doing what I should be doing. That this feeling was why I run. That even though I got passed by a guy in a Boston Marathon shirt whose easy pace would lap my hard pace, I was totally happy to be where I was just in that moment.

I hope my son can find a place like that for himself.

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18 thoughts on “Courage to Change the Things I Can…

  1. I hesitate to click the “like” button when I know this is such a hard time for you. I’m glad you have running to keep you going and getting through this time. It is amazing what a difference that makes. Great on enjoying the run without worrying about pace. My new personal goal is further, not faster. I’m just trying not to get hurt. 🙂

    • Thank you. I know what you mean about “liking” a post for someine going through tough times. We need a “wish you well” button or something.

      I saw in your blog that you were going to focus on distance. I think this is an awesome idea! I’ve seen “older” ultra runners that can outlast the younguns, which i think is awesome. I’ve been dabbling with HR stuff, and that might interest you as well, especially the maffetone training stuff.

      I’m excited to read how your change in focus goes 🙂

  2. Oh Judith … I am SO sorry and honestly don’t know what to say. Other than this is not your failure … and that perhaps attaching the word failure to it isn’t constructive in general. All you know is that this is now in the past, and he needs to move forward. And also that there are a lot of words I could spew that have nothing to do with how I would feel in your position.

    I have a friend who was from a line of RPI people and fraternity members, so he had massive expectations on him – then he paid someone to take a final, got booted … and THEN at 19 started figuring out his life based on what he wanted.

    As for the stuff about the other blogs, well you KNOW I share your feelings on that and have written about it several times … probably less gently with each passing iteration. I think by the next time I do a post on it, it will come out pretty much saying “WHAT THE F IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?!?!?” haha

    Again I am so sorry … so let me offer you a virtual hug across the miles ({})

    • Thank you. Your kind words are exactly the right thing to say. I really appreciate them. I gladly accept that virtual hug.

      I’m hoping that my son does turn this around. I love him so much and I’m hurting for him. That is, when I don’t want to shake some sense into him.

      Lol, that’s what I want to shout at those bloggers too! The proliferation of them seems to normalize their sick behavior and vulnerable people will glom right onto it. It really bothers me. I hope I can polish that post and publish it when I am in a less stressed out mood.

  3. Good for you for recognizing the possibility of substituting one addiction for another and choosing to be healthy instead.

    Having never had children, all I can say is I’m sad because you’re sad and I pray for your son and you and your husband.

    I look forward to reading your perspective on the “healthy” insanity.

  4. Sorry to hear about your son. I don’t think we ever stop worrying about our kids. Then when they make a bad decision we blame ourselves. I can think of 100 ways I’ve failed my kids and they can probably think of a 100 more that I can’t imagine.
    Being a parent is never easy. What you are going through must be especially difficult. I can’t say I feel your pain, but I fear your pain.
    It will be a few more weeks until we see our youngest’s first college report card. I’d lie if I said I wasn’t a little bit concerned.

  5. Oh hon, you didn’t fail your son. He’s an adult and he made his choices – now he has to accept the very real ramifications of those choices. You’ve given him a place to seek refuge and begin to rebuild – that’s not failing him.

    I am not a parent but have worked with students aged 3 – 23 since 1998 and I can tell you first hand that sometimes the best of kids make the worst of choices choices and the most misguided of kids somehow end up being successes.

    Sometimes we need to screw up big time in order to best figure ourselves out. I would know – I did horribly for a year in college (even failing a major course) but decided to get my act together and graduated cum laude and got two masters degrees. Don’t give up on him, but, like you said, don’t coddle him either. You will all come out the other side, I promise. We’re all here for you.

    • Aw man, thank you for this. I’ve heard from a lot of people, both friends with kids who did something similar and adults who I respect who were like my kid themselves, and so many have turned things around. My son is a great kid, but I think school before college was too easy for him. College was just so much freedom — I just thought that the warnings he got from the first couple semesters and the fact that he didn’t want to come live home would be enough of a wake up.

      It’s encouraging to hear your experience with kids my son’s age. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You have not failed your son, but I can certainly understand feeling that way. Parenting is so hard and it’s easy to judge ourselves (and every bump in the road) to harshly. And all lives seem to have some rough patches, maybe this is his. He’s young, he’s still got lots of time to make better choices, and maybe this “life lesson” will be the best thing for him. Maybe he’ll go back to school when he’s ready, maybe he’ll find something better. I appreciate how you are offering him support, a soft spot to fall, a hand up, but NOT fixing things for him. That sounds like great parenting to me.

    I do hope things get better soon and/or you feel a bit better soon. Stress compounded by stress (and old triggers) can be hard. Sending you hugs. Jessie

  7. Joan S says:

    Sorry to hear about your son. Its hard when they get hurt, and we parents feel it ten times worse than they do I think. It may not have been his fault. There are lots of things. When I was in college writing a 5 min quiz always got to me, I couldn’t deal with the time restraint, and they were a huge part of the final mark. Even though I knew the stuff, it didn’t matter. It was the stress. And stress is hard.

    I guess all we can do is keep moving forward.

  8. Sometimes the hardest lessons are the best lessons. Your son may not have been passionate about college, and now has the opportunity to find his passion. I am a retired school teacher and have many former students who have not stayed in college but have found their passion and are now highly successesful in their lives. And you cannot do it for him!!!

  9. Syd says:

    I too feel for you and your son. But not everyone wants or needs a college degree. Some people need a chance to find out what they really want. I know that you are so aware that you can’t change him. Hope that you stay in that happy place with your running. You have a passion!

  10. Pretend the “Like” button is a “Hug” button. My heart aches for you. It seems like the it is hardest on the parents as children dip their toes in Adult Life Lake.

  11. TR says:

    Sending you Hugs. I think (from reading the recent post about it) that you are mindful and can move through the different emotions (that have or will come up). I don’t presume to know how you feel, I can relate to the voice that says ‘failure’. For me, that comes from taking on full responsibility (blame). When in fact, I think from your title, it sounds like you are aware of this and understanding the difference in influencing/guiding your son and letting him take responsibility for his actions as an adult. Not easy and it sounds like you are moving through all the stuff (him moving too) in a good enough healthy way. Sending you more Hugs.

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