You have not failed. You are working your socks off, doing everything you can to make your family pull together but there is a strong force at work counteracting your efforts and it is something, I think maybe, you are struggling to comprehend.
Your husband is one of two people from whom your children should learn how to lead decent lives and yet his addiction is based on lies, distrust, secrets and manipulation. With one fifth of your family displaying these unacceptable behaviours I fail to see how everything could be tickety- boo.
Of course you do not have to be a martyr and of course you can change. I know because although I would never consider myself a martyr, I felt a complete failure just as you describe yourself.
One fifth of my family has an addiction to gamble but my family is functioning well (and getting better) because ‘I’ have changed. My CG has controlled his addiction but as far as the rest of my family is concerned, I believe it is ‘my’ change that has altered what was dysfunctional. I am now leading from the front and not trailing behind picking up the bits.
Whatever happened yesterday is gone. Your eldest son is still wonderful even if he didn’t make the grade for an Ivy League school. His inner happiness and self-esteem is more important and you are the person who can make him feel great and able to pick himself up and achieve whatever he wants in his life.
Your younger daughter needs positive action from you, action you can give. Talk to her and listen to her, she is at one of the most confused times of her life. When I was 13 I told a boy I was 16 so that I could go to an x-rated horror film – I was pushing the boundaries and I learned as a result of that lie that an age limit on a film is there for a reason – I was absolutely terrified. Your daughter needs to learn from you that boundaries are there for her safety.
There is no ‘need’ for your youngest son to experience failure – I have many friends whose youngest child has broken the mould. Believe in him and enjoy him. While your husband is away, doing whatever, build your life, the life that ‘you’ want it to be.
You have not failed as a mother – you are still there and so are your children Nothing is broken so badly that it cannot be fixed.
What you do today is all the matters Madge. With a daughter in need of guidance and a son in need of reassurance there is little time to waste feeling a failure when you are not.
Of course mothers take the blame but feeling guilt is one step too many.
I don’t believe there is a funny side – I believe it is hard work, strength and self-belief that will win the day for you and I believe you can do it.