It’s easy to look back on the COVID-19 pandemic and only see the negatives, but a Colorado mom and therapist wants us to remember that every cloud has its silver lining.
At the start of the pandemic, Kerry Stutzman invited her 22-year-old son, Palmer Skudneski, and his girlfriend Anabelle Adams to live in their Denver, Colorado home. Both Palmer and Kerry admit they were apprehensive about living together, but Palmer decided it beat living in a cramped Chicago apartment building.
Palmer and his two brothers were young when his parents got divorced. Kerry remarried a man who also has three children, so they formed a large blended family. Of all the six kids, Palmer was by far the most challenging to raise. He was angry about the divorce, and he took his rage out on everyone around him — especially his mom. Kerry still tears up to this day over the things her middle son did and said during his challenging teen years.
“There was a period when he hated me. And for me that was the hardest part,” she recalled. “He was really clear that he just couldn’t stand me.”
“I got really pulled into this terrible, dark cycle,” Palmer agreed. “I wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. We would fight all the time. It’s something I now look back on with such sadness. I would get home from school and wouldn’t want to say a word. Everything she would put together for us, I would throw it back in her face.”
Due to some erratic and dangerous behavior, Kerry feared for her son’s life. She was so afraid to discipline him and risk driving him further away that she sent him to therapy for an entire summer. He came back with a new perspective, and while he no longer felt angry at his mother, they didn’t have a lot of time to repair the damage to their relationship before Palmer left for college.
“I honestly never had a chance to build that adult relationship with her,” said Palmer.
Years passed, and then Palmer and Anabelle moved back to his mother’s home in March 2020. They thought it would just be for a few weeks, but two years have passed and the couple is still living at Kerry’s. All of this time together has created a new bond between mother and son. They’re now closer than ever before!
“The pandemic has been a reset to how a lot of families think about family life and what matters,” Kerry said. “It’s been painful, and we’ve lost things in it, but I think we’ve also gained something so important…more connection with the people that matter the most to us.”
During the pandemic, Kerry and Palmer were finally able to reconnect as adults. They now love spending time together and can talk for hours. Palmer is even considering going to graduate school to become a therapist, just like his mom. Both of them just needed enough time to get to know each other again!
“It was humbling and inspiring to start seeing her as a human, not just as a mom,” Palmer said. “Seeing what her life looked like.”
Kerry wants other parents to know one thing: “Sometimes, the kids who are the hardest to raise turn out to be the coolest adults.”
Kerry is now helping Palmer and Anabelle plan their wedding. It’s so beautiful to hear stories about the pandemic healing a family! What a beautiful silver lining.
Please share this story to celebrate this repaired relationship.
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