It was my youngest son’s 25th birthday. Twenty-five years ago my doctor smiled at me and told me he had never seen anyone as excited as I was, as the nurse placed my tiny little man in my arms. He had big blue eyes and a mop of black hair. This in itself was unusual. We were mostly redheads in our family and I don’t ever remember a blue-eyed child. As with my other children, I fell instantly in love.
We were always very close. He was my baby. It had been seven years since I had given birth to his brother and back then I was considered an “older” mother. I loved my son so much and through the years we became as close as mother and son could get. Then something changed: my son stopped talking to me and I have no idea why.
I packed up and moved across the state after working 10 years in a stressful thankless job at the suggestion of my son. He said he thought I would love living here in Hobart and I would be able to see more of him. I had been divorced a couple of years by this time. It had been a very painful breakup and divorce for me and I had also lost my home and my financial circumstances were at their worst. I welcomed the change and was excited to be living closer to my boy.
At first it was great. I loved Kingston, the little seaside town just outside Hobart. My son and his flatmate came over every couple of weeks for dinner. I was even invited out for the occasional meal with “the boys”. I had known most of my son’s friends for over 10 years. I settled into life in Hobart and was content and happy. Then it happened.
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I was booked in for hip replacement surgery and asked my son if he would be able to do the odd thing for me when I came home from hospital. His answer was “Of course Mum. Me and the boys will help.” I was pretty organised and wouldn’t much help, just the odd visit to the doctor’s surgery or a couple of items picked up from the supermarket. Before I even had the operation, my son had words with me over his girlfriend of a few months. I won’t go into details, but despite my efforts I hadn’t been given much of a chance to get to know her. Then I commented on something one day that was absolutely in no way anything to do with my son’s girlfriend. We talked about this and I thought nothing of it. Things changed though and my boy just stopped having anything to do with me.
During my time in hospital, when I came home and later when I became seriously ill from complications, my son refused to come near me. I tried to talk to him, I tried everything. It’s been nine months now and apart from some very hurtful things my son has said to me via text when I have tried to talk to him, he has not contacted me. I sent him a birthday present but don’t expect him to acknowledge it. My marriage breakup from the love of my life was the most painful thing I have ever gone through, but nothing like this.
I don’t honestly know why this has happened. I keep trying to make sense of it and try to move on and live with it. It’s not like a divorce where you grieve and move on. This is my son, my child, part of me. I wonder does he realise the pain and heartache I feel? I wonder if I did something I don’t even know I did? I wonder will that heaviness I feel in my heart every day ever disappear? I love you, son. Happy birthday.
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Do you know how Fran feels?
This piece was originally published on Starts at 60 as ‘When your child wants nothing to do with you’. It was one of our most popular contributions by the Starts at 60 community in 2016.
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