WHAT WILL THEY SAY?

 

Legacy Letterpress

 I went to a funeral today.

Recently I read a book entitled Living Forward.  And I have just spent an hour looking through my stacks of books to write a quote from it.  Apparently I am not living forward enough to be organized enough to find it. Regardless, one of the exercises in the book was to write your own eulogy – to think about what you wanted people to say about you at your funeral.  What did you want your life to stand for? What was going to be your legacy?

I doubt he had read the book I cannot find, but based on his funeral he didn’t need to.  He was too busy creating a life and a legacy.

It wasn’t a legacy created from lavish  financial donations

It wasn’t a legacy created from discovering some medical breakthrough

It wasn’t a legacy created by a heroic deed.

It was a legacy greater than any of those.

His legacy was that He loved his family well.

His children spoke of their relationship with their dad.  They didn’t speak of his career or his material wealth, or awards that he had won. They spoke of cherished times on the ball field, of weekly breakfast dates and of memories simply riding in the car together. They spoke of what he taught them.

And of his laughter.

It was obvious that he was present. And sacrificial. And kind.

 His legacy was made up of a million little choices he made for his family. Not one big sweeping gesture; but a thousand little ones. 

I know I wasn’t the only one that left the funeral wanting to be a better person, mother and friend; hoping my children will one day say the same things about me.

But what choices am I making today that will create the legacy I want? What are my priorities? What consumes my time?

What about you?

I am so sad for my friend that she has lost her husband and I am heartbroken that her children are now without their dad, I, too, know the pain and ache of that grief. But I hope it brings them a little comfort to know that his life has inspired me to choose wisely how I invest my time. To prioritize the things that really matter, to be present for my children

…and to laugh!

 

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BEAUTY FOR ASHES; AS TOLD BY MOANA

 

Let me start by saying that the only things I have successfully kept alive are my three children.

You may have heard that I guilted myself into getting two cats for my youngest.  I am truly afraid that when he goes away to college in the fall, they will die from my neglect.

I have never kept a plant alive for more than three months. I have even killed a cactus. A cactus that did not need anything from me; yet I managed to kill it.

Here is what happened to the garden, that my middle son so lovingly planted and tended to, when he left it in my care

Look, we all cannot be Martha Stewart.

I’ve had a few other things on my to do list.

So when I came home to find this flower blooming out of the graveyard that is my lawn, I was convinced it was a botanous miracle.(not that that is even a word)

daffodil

In my defense this part of my yard had a fence on it until recently; so save your landscaping judgement for another day please.

Rest assured  I have never, not once, planted a flower of any genus or species in my yard. As you can see, nothing but a weed or two is growing in my side yard where this flora sprang up out of nowhere.

And isn’t that a bit like life; Beauty from Ashes

I watched Moana last night.  Yes, I was watching a children’s movie on a Saturday night. Alone. (Again, please hold your lonely on a Saturday night judgement for later) And it was AMAZING!

Bear with me.  I’m going somewhere with this whole flower out of a dead yard and Moana thing…

Alcoholism stole my heart.   My divorce left me wounded and took whatever self esteem I had and buried it deep; so deep. Hurt and failure slowly removed my heart a piece at a time and left me unsure of who I was. I believed I was my failures.  I believed what the alcoholism told me about myself. That I was second place. That I wasn’t worth fighting for. That I was the cause of it. That if I was just more loving, giving, and kind I could fix it. If I was more than…  If I was stronger…If I had a deeper faith… If. If . If.

Years later, I know in my head that the lies I believed were not true; yet my self esteem was still buried deep. The years of single parenting left me little time and energy for any real emotional recovery.  It was survival mode at its finest.

But now I find myself in a season of healing; uncovering the wounds that were scarred over and beginning to replace my heart piece by piece. (Hang on the Moana tie in is coming)

Recently I started back to therapy and my very astute therapist quickly realized my self esteem was in shambles. It was obvious that I had many wounds that had not been properly cared for. Though my lousy self esteem was not why I went back to therapy, it was where we started the work. The first assignment my therapist gave me was to make a list of all the things I had accomplished since becoming a single parent. I was to give myself validation. I was to declare the positives. She couldn’t have asked for a more difficult assignment. I am way more comfortable dwelling on how I need to improve.  Focusing on my weaknesses is my strength.  I don’t know why it is difficult for me to give myself credit, but it is.

So that night, huddled under my comforter (appropriately named, by the way) I began to meekly write out my list of validations – my list of I ams and I dids.

And for the first time, I affirmed myself.

And it was powerful.

And this is where Moana  comes in.

It wasn’t until she is affirmed by her Grandmother and sings about who she is that she gains the confidence and strength to go after her calling.

Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
“Moana, you’ve come so far”
Moana listen, do you know who you are?

Who am I?

And then she belts out who she is!

[youtube

And then, like the badass she is, she mends her sails and repairs her boat and sails on.

My therapy assignment was my Moana moment; reminding me of who I am and what I am capable of. 

 The end of Moana slayed me. Totally slayed me. Leave it to  Disney to have me alone on a Saturday night sobbing at a cartoon.

I was that lava monster. I had let the alcoholism and divorce steal my heart and harden me. For years I let it define me.

 In the end, Moana sings to the lava monster and restores her heart.

I know your name

They have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are
You know who you are

SPOILER ALERT

And  then she turns her lava ashes into beauty

moana-2

And my dead yard produced a flower.

And my wounded heart can be restored.

It is so hard to understand how good and beauty can possibly come from our wounds, our grief, and our hard. But somehow God promises it will; that He will exchange our ashes for beauty.  And it starts with restoring our heart and declaring who we are.

So who are you? Declare it. It will give you strength and courage to go on; to keep fighting through your hard things. It will exchange  beauty for your ashes.

But now for the real question regarding Moana.  How did she keep her tube top up the entire movie? I mean seriously, the one time I tried to wear a strapless shirt I was pulling at that thing the entire night. Oh, the magic of Disney!

“The Ocean told you you were special and you believed it”

-Maui

 

 

Posted in alcoholhism, choosing to be happy, comments on life, divorce, getting back up, gratitude, happiness, Life's challenges, self esteem | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The 5 stages of A Snow Day

By now you have heard the news that, once again, school has been cancelled. Though I don’t have kids at home anymore, I feel your pain. Please know, my thoughts and prayers are with you.   I thought it might help you work through some of your anxt if we walked through the 5 stages of a snow day together. After all, everyone needs a little validation.

Stage 1: ANTICIPATION

bread4

The warnings start. It’s coming.  We are actually going to get SNOW! Real snow, with actual accumulation. It’s going to be so great!  You can’t wait to get snowed in with your family! Everything will be cancelled and you won’t have to go anywhere! But first  you’ve got to survive  go to the grocery store…OH MY LORD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? IT’S JUST A LITTLE SNOW, NOT ARMAGEDDON! HOW MANY LOAVES OF BREAD DO YOU NEED?  But now You’ve got your bread and milk and wine.  You are ready. Bring it on!  “I just Love Snow !”, you shout, as you twirl around in your kitchen while you make all your savory soups. This is going to be so great!!!

Stage 2 : UNBRIDLED JOY

snow-day-joy

You  wake up early to see that, yes, it did snow as predicted.  There is almost as much excitement as on  Christmas morning. It’s  like a scene from Elf.

“I planned out our whole day. First we’ll make snow angels for a two hours, then we’ll go  ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie Dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.”

You cheerfully find the hats and mittens and snow pants, then patiently bundle your little angels. The snapchats are posted and Instagram is updated with pictures of your precious snowbirds enjoying the snow.  There are snowmen to be built, hills to sled, perfect snowballs to be made with cool snowball makers that were not even in the early stages of a patent when my kids were making snowballs. ( not that I am bitter or anything.) And the hot chocolate! Marshmallows and sprinkles and fancy whipped cream; it’s a Pinterest win! And then it’s movie time, all snuggled up together with all your family togetherness. The dryer is running so round two of the snow paradise can happen after the movie.  IT’S SO MUCH FUN!  The kids are happy and joyful! And did I mention, IT’S SO MUCH FUN!  Later you sip your wine by the fire and beam with pride at your cozy family. And NO SCHOOL!  You get to sleep in.  In the morning you will  leisurely make waffles to go with your fancy hot chocolate and you will  get to linger over your second cup of coffee. It’s so peaceful.

Stage 3: EXHAUSTION

snow-day-exhaustion

Day three and you are beginning to get a little weary. Your back hurts from the shoveling and from pulling every kid in the neighborhood down the street on a boogie board. Your patience is beginning to wear a little thin…”I don’t know where your other glove is! If you didn’t leave your stuff strewn around the house like Hansel and Gretel you would be able to find it”  ” OMG if I have to run the dryer one more time, I’m going to hurt someone”  And by now your parenting boundaries are all but gone.  “Mom, Billy is sledding off the roof”  “It’s fine”, you say.  “Mom, Can I get out the glitter? “I don’t care”,you mumble. “And paint my room purple?” “Purple” you whisper under your breath to no one but yourself; like Brick on The Middle. “Mom, what is there to eat? I’m starving!” “Snow, you can eat snow.” you sob. By now you and your kids have gone three, maybe four, days without showering. Like Michael Keaton in Mr Mom, some of you have been in the same flannel shirt for days.  And, you cannot confirm nor deny if any teeth have been brushed since the first snow flake has fallen. “What’s the point”, you say.  “I can’t escape. I’m trapped here forever with these people who keep demanding that I feed them” This is so exhausting!

Stage 4: PANIC

jonshow

OMG! You realize you are down to your last three K cups.  You’re not going to make it. “I can’t be with these people 24 hours a day without coffee!” Calm down, you still have–wait–NOOOO you thought you had another bottle of wine. This can’t be right.  You distinctly remember buying a case of wine. This is bad. Really bad.   Your neighborhood is a skating rink.  You can’t go out there for reinforcements.  And, another day of no school. Seriously? You feel you can’t do this another minute. Someone – anyone, help!

Stage 5: DESPERATION

snow-day-panic

Schools closed again. Again. You debate whether you can convince each family in Hampton Roads  to shovel a path from their  house to the front  door of their school. Your soul is as dark and  black as the snow along the side of Virginia Beach Blvd. There is no hope.  If we all survive one more day together trapped in this house it will be a miracle. You plead. Beg. Please God let there be school tomorrow. You contemplate  sending them out to the bus stop anyway so you can have a moment alone in the house; they will come back eventually, right?

Hang in there. There is light at the end of the igloo.  Temps are rising and by Thursday we will be in short sleeves again. So tonight, beg borrow or steel one more glass of wine and banish your kids to their rooms–This Is Us is back! See, even in our darkest hour, there is always hope.

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The End Becomes the Beginning

end-is-begining-blog

photo by noberson

My son wanted to drive so we took his fathers car. No 16 year old wants to be driving in his mothers mini van. I kept thinking, “Why the hell were we the ones going to a meeting when he was the one with the problem.” Neither of us wanted to go; him to Alateen, and me to Alanon

But when your life has been turned upside down by the disease of alcoholism, you grasp at anything; like reaching for a secure limb to grab hold of that will give you enough leverage to pull you up  and out of the dark place you have fallen into.

So we went.  I felt ok about leaving the younger two with their dad as we had his car and keys and, seriously, how would he possibly get alcohol without any transportation?

It’s a humbling experience sitting in a meeting like that.  You want to scream “I’m not like them” ” I have a masters degree, and did you know I have 3 gifted children?”  “We live in a nice house” (well, the bathrooms were stuck in the eighties, but still)  “My kids don’t have tattoos and piercing, and I’ll have you know this one here is in the Math and Science academy” I wanted to believe that all of our outward appearances of success made us different from those in the meeting that didn’t “look” like us.

But we were all the same.  Broken, scared, confused, angry; our lives careening out of control like a train that had jumped the track.

We said our steps, held back tears, and the second the meeting was done we raced out of there as fast as we could. We went through a drive thru cuz everyone knows that a milk shake will solve everything. Our life had become unmanageable. So unbelievably unmanageable. I had been desperately trying to hold it all together for years. I enabled, I prayed, I cried and pleaded. I read books, went to therapy, gave ultimatums; and toward the end actually followed through on them.  But nothing was bringing the alcoholic any closer to sobriety.

Life with an alcoholic is a little like trying to balance on a high wire.

Picture  holding the balancing pole with the children on one side and the alcoholic on the other. Everyday the drinking would cause that pole to dip, causing me to desperately find a way to get us back in balance; all the while trying to show mercy and care for the one whose disease was threatening to cause us all to plummet to the ground.  It was a balancing act I was weary of.  My arms could no longer hold that pole. So when we arrived back home from our meeting to find him drunk, it was the moment that I finally laid it down .

It wasn’t till the next morning that I realized I had the courage to do it. I had gone to work early in the morning and when I was done with work, I called the house.  “Let me speak to your dad”  “He isn’t here. He went to play ping pong at church” And that was it.  That was the moment I knew I was done.  I knew that I knew that I knew that I couldn’t hold that pole a minute longer. I knew the disease would eventually cause us all to fall, and my fear was that there would be irreparable damage–it’s what I have always feared; and frankly still do

And that was the end. And the beginning.  New Years Eve will always be a reminder of the moment I had the courage to get my kids and myself out of the destructive environment of a life with an alcoholic.

A dear friend took my kids for the day and night so I could have a proper breakdown and so the kids could have a fun memory; as they spent it with their best friends unaware of the loss that was ahead of them in the new year.

I spent the day cleaning, not just a dusting here or a vacuum there.  I scrubbed baseboards, and wiped down every inch of every venetian blind in my house. I organized closets, and took a magic easer to every fingerprint and smudge on every surface in my house. ( and remember I was raising three young boys at the time;  this alone could have taken the whole day) To this day I don’t know why that was my reaction — to clean.  I think it was less of a metaphor for getting rid of all the yuck that had been my marriage for all those years and more about control. For so many years and moments the alcoholism had stolen my sense of security and control. But on that day, for the first time in a long time, I at least had control of my environment.

Later that night, he came back to get some things. He was contrite, as he usually was  after a drunken tirade, but this time I knew in my heart that the disease had progressed far past the I’m sorrys, and it won’t happen agains, and the I’ll get helps and the just give me one more chances. I don’t know why I asked, but in hindsight I’m thankful I did.  “Not that it matters, but how did you get alcohol last night?” For the sake of privacy I won’t tell you the details, but hearing how was  confirmation that I was making the right decision. It was the assurance I needed to know that his disease was not anything I could fix and now I needed to concentrate on providing a safe and secure space for my kids.

I always wake up on New Years Eve remembering those events that led to my decision to end my marriage; but this year has a little different feel to it.  There is always sadness, like remembering the anniversary of the death of a loved one.  But this New Years Eve, instead of seeing those events as the end, I am starting  to see it was the beginning.   Though it didn’t feel like it for so long, it was the beginning of healing for the kids and me.  This past year I have been doing some hard work as I assess those years of living with an alcoholic and how they impacted my self esteem, my confidence, and even my personality. It’s not fun, but it’s so healing. This New Years Eve, as I am emerging out of years of survival mode, I am waking up with a grateful heart. I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but I can look back on all the past New Years Eves and see how far we have come. Time really is the ultimate healer.

Statistics tell us that approximately 16.3 million adults have an Alcohol use Disorder. Chances are you have been effected by the disease, just as my family was/is.  This New Years Eve I want to tell you there is hope of getting some control and peace and balance back into your life.  I don’t know what that looks like for you and your family, but I hope 2017 is the year for your beginning. If I can be a source of help and encouragement, please feel free to reach out to me.  I know how living with the disease can be a lonely, isolated place.

Happy New Year and here’s to beginnings; no matter how long they take to realize

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Something’s Missing

boysI woke up early this Christmas morning to the sound of silence.  No whispers among brothers wondering if Santa came last night.  No scrambling of little boy feet at the top of the landing; impatiently waiting  for the grown ups to drag themselves out of bed so they could race down the stairs and get to their stockings. No feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air. No Santa Magic. I wasn’t sad.  Ok, I lied.  I was. This Christmas, more than any, I have missed my little boys. It’s the first Christmas we haven’t all woken up together and frankly the changes that having adult kids brings is sometimes hard to swallow; even more so than the stale cookies  your neighbor brought you.  ( sorry if I was that neighbor)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve experienced some not so Holly Jolly Christmases when my kids were little. Brutal 24 hour car rides with toddlers and babies before the traveling savior of DVD’s and gameboys and headphones; and the only word one could say was cracker and he said it no less than 100 times in the first hour of the drive. And did I mention this was before headphones? And the Christmas Eve one kid had a raging ear infection and screamed non stop so I found myself driving in circles around Va Beach for hours in the middle of the night because that was the only way to get him to stop screaming. It was far from a Silent Night. There’s lots more not so merry Christmas stories, but I’ll spare you the details.

And let’s face it.  Christmas is A LOT of work.  The cooking and the baking and  the shopping and the wrapping. And so many times the expectations of the holiday can wreck you.  

But the joy of little ones on Christmas morning makes it all worth it.  That’s what I miss. I miss the dressing them up in Santa suits and christmas pjs. I mean how many pairs of plaid sleep pants can you get excited about opening on Christmas Eve? I miss finding that perfect toy that you keep telling them you couldn’t find so don’t get your hopes up. (anybody score a Hatchimal?) I miss seeing their faces light up as they peel back the first corner of wrapping paper,suddenly realizing what it is, then pausing to give you that gigantic smile before ripping the rest off in a frenzy; tossing paper like confetti behind them. I miss brothers in Christmas sweaters and matching plaid shirts. And I miss sitting back with my coffee and watching them play with hopes fulfilled in a sea of torn wrapping paper.

 

carter-present

tyler-santa-suit

 

But I think what I am missing most is my boys  all being together. I thought it was the traditions and cookies and presents and trappings of Christmas that made the day  so special all those years, but now I realize it was them. Just them.

Christmas is really all about your people.

And when they are not with you at Christmas, it’s not really Christmas.  But as sad and nostalgic as I am this morning, I am one of the lucky ones. I may not be waking up to all my people, but I will get to be with some of them later. It won’t be our usual Christmas, but at least I will get to be with  most of my people.  For many though, this Christmas will be sad and lonely all day as they miss the people they have lost this year.  I know so many that will spend this Christmas for the first time without their person. And the loss they have already been feeling is multiplied as they wake up on Christmas morning knowing they will never share another christmas with the person that made their Christmas, Christmas.

So if you are with all your people today, rejoice and savor the moments. The presents and traditions and magic of christmas are really just about being with your people. And if you are weary this Christmas morning from raising kids and from all the work that goes into making Christmas memories, pause and soak it all in. Because this is what you will miss one Christmas morning in the not so distant future!

So from  my people and me, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. And even if we are missing our people, we can still celebrate the one person who came to earth as a little baby to  show us what love is and to be the one person we will never have to miss.

family-pic

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Worn Out Pair of Jeans

I was going through my archived pictures the other day. And by archived I mean 24 years of pictures stuffed in shoe boxes waiting to be put in all those Creative Memory scrapbooks I purchased. And I found these…

 

And I saw the progression of my motherhood right there in front of me

 Tyler sitting up straight with his hands on his lap. So serious. Sunglasses on to protect his fragile eyes from the sun because I read somewhere that I needed to do that

Carter barely sitting long enough, his hands beside him ready to bound off the step and scale the nearest tree.  To it’s highest point; to my dismay.

Cameron posing extra cute, as he had already learned to do to be noticed, with bruised shins from lack of supervision.

And the shorts; threadbare, faded, and worn.

They looked a little like my heart.

Sometimes mothering feels  a little like a worn out pair of jeans

Changed from the wear and tear. Broken in. A little more comfortable than the first day you tried them on. Softer. More forgiving as the years of wear progress. But faded, too. Different than the original.

 

 

 

 

 

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And Then There Were None

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As of today, March 25th, I will have raised three boys into adulthood. Well, numerically and legally anyway. I’m still doing research on my theory that all males are really just 12 year old boys in a body that continues to age physically …its just a theory. It really is a bit of a miracle I survived all those parenting years. Sure, I somehow managed to do it as a single mom  while working multiple jobs. But that’s not the real miracle.

The real miracle is that I did it in a time without drive thru Starbucks, Target leggings, or parking spaces reserved for parents with children. It’s like I parented in the Dark Ages or something.

As a mom of all boys, I have had a few challenges. Thankfully, now that they are all young adults those challenges are a distant memory.  It’s been at least 8 years since I have had to tell any of them to get their hands out of their pants.  I never thought I would see the day, but they have all managed to use the bathroom without leaving it looking like a pee spattered crime scene. Now that 2/3 of them are out of the house and the third right behind them, I no longer have to watch every testosterone laden, sci fi , super hero movie to hit the big screen.  The other day I actually got to pick whatever movie I wanted on Amazon Prime and it was calm, and thoughtful, and educational.  No one got shot and nothing blew up! I can even walk into the family room free of any first person shooter games; and frankly I couldn’t be happier about that. There are no more Nerf gun fights terrorizing my house and no more stepping on Lego. (I just realized in my first draft I wrote Legos. Shame on me.  As a boy mom, I know better. The plural of Lego is Lego. Please don’t take my boy mom card. It was an honest editing mistake)  But even though I am happy that my boy mom challenges are behind me, I find myself struggling with this transition for reasons that have caught me by surprise.

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It’s not that I am sad. I don’t think I am anyway. I love my relationships with my young men. They are funny and interesting and I couldn’t be more proud of them. It’s just that it feels a little like what you must feel when you cross the finish line of a marathon you didn’t train for.  The tears come because you are  relieved that you  finished the race. It was so hard. It required so much strength and stamina.  But they also come because you can’t believe it is over; that somehow you did it. Somehow you succeeded in achieving the goal: today they  are  all technically adults.  And as my friend Chookie says, now all I have to say  is, “Just so you know, I’ll visit you. But I’m not paying your bail!”

If I am being completely honest, I wasn’t always the most gracious mom of infants and toddlers. I used to dream of the day when my boys would be independent.  I loved parenting my kids, really I did.  But, I’m an extreme introvert and sometimes those kids were in my space way too  much.  Many times I wanted to  scream to my  6month old or my two year old, “Why won’t you leave me alone?  Would it kill you to  just give me a moment to myself.” ” Stop needing to be fed and read to.” “And for goodness sakes, stop asking me to play Candy Land” (or now Scrabble at 10pm which is the same thing except I can’t stack the deck so I pick Queen Frostine and then hope for double purple for the win!).

 

During those early years, I didn’t really get excited about some of those first milestones. Take their first steps, nothing special.  Say their first word, big deal. But the  day they could get up, pour their own cereal, and turn the TV on by themselves was the greatest day of my parenting journey. Let’s just say I was a much better mom of independent kids.

But then they are.

And then they leave you.

 

And now  I feel the need to dig my claws into their ankles and hang on for dear life. Which is quite the opposite of how it used to be. I will never forget the first day of kindergarten for  one of my kids; who shall remain nameless but decided to move to the other side of the world.  I literally (no, I mean literally, this is not a metaphor)  had to peel his hands off the school bus step railing, put my hands on his behind and push him up the stairs to get on the bus. I guess this is my payback. I mean, isn’t this what all the worry, work and sleepless nights were for; to send them out of the nest to make their own way in the world?

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But instead of doing the empty nest dance I dreamed of, I am crying every time I see banana pudding.

 Banana pudding is my new trigger. It makes me misty eyed and nostalgic.  It brings to the surface all the emotions I have been stuffing since my middle one told me he was leaving. There are so many things that make me miss him, but for some reason the banana pudding makes me cry. I wouldn’t get it every time I passed it on the salad bar at the grocery store, but I thought of him every time I did. It was his favorite. Also, who decided that would be the dessert on every salad bar in every grocery store?  But on occasion, I would bring some home to him just to say, “I thought of you and I want you to feel loved”.  So why does the banana pudding make me cry?

I guess it’s a brutal reminder that I am no longer able to mother him in that “your my child” kind of way. It’s a reminder that now I have to mother him like you’re a man now and I need to get out of the way and let you become a manlier version of the boy I raised.

It’s a reminder that I won’t be able to  know how he is really doing just by seeing how he moves through the house. He used to walk the path through the kitchen, to the dining room, down the hall, and back through the family room.  The number of times and the speed at which he moved told me all I needed to know. It was a barometer for me; measuring his internal pressure and stress. It was a way for me to know if he needed time alone, or a word of encouragement, or for me to just stand back and watch him figure it out.  And now I don’t know. And seeing those layers of soggy vanilla wafers smothered in Dwight Shrute  yellow pudding scream at me that I am no longer the one to  be sure he is alright. It’s a reminder that I am no longer the one who is responsible for his daily needs. That I no longer can parent him in the little things. I am no longer the person  to check his pulse. 

And then I saw a picture of my oldest son.

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But it wasn’t my boy.  It was a picture of a man. I don’t know why it struck me the way it did.  I’ve known for a while that he was an adult. I mean, I’ve watched him graduate college, get a job, and fall in love.  I’ve even heard that  he cleans up after himself now. So I’ve known he’s been a grown up for a while. But today, for the first time, I actually saw the man. A man that I no longer have the responsibility to mold. He’s leaved and cleaved, like he should.  But now I need to learn my new role in his life.  When to help and when to back off. When to say something or when to just be quiet.

And I am wondering why I wanted those early years of parenting to pass.

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 I still have my 18 year old here a little while longer.  And since he is in college, we are doing the  I am giving you freedom but you are still living under my roof dance.   We are walking the tight rope of go on, step out, be independent; but you better be home by midnight and I am going to read your txts because I am paying for your phone bill. I can’t control who he dates or how long his hair is; though I desperately want to.  Oh! to be back in the days of play dates that I arranged. Now I can only pray that all those years of parenting trained him up in a way that he will be ok. That they all will be OK.

 

I don’t know why I so desperately wanted them to be independent. I would give anything to go back to the early parenting moments.  When they didn’t make the team, at least I was the one who could hug and comfort and cheer them on.  When  life wasn’t being fair, at least I was the one who could guide and lead and go to bat for them. When they were struggling with their calculus at least…yea never mind, they were on their own in the homework department since the 4th grade. But at least I could be there to tell them great job and you can do it. Now I wish I could step on a Lego.  It was a lot less painful than not seeing your kids for months or maybe years. That pain was a lot less traumatic than watching your child struggle with real life, big issues and not being able to fix them.

It’s a tough thing learning to be the parent of  adults. I think I would rather have a Nerf gun fight and be able to put them to bed; even if their  hands are down their pants.

I wish there was a way to know you are in the good ole days before you have actually left them  -Andy from the Office

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