Is it normal?

I imagined the way it would be in my mind. Thick heavy intricate snowflakes dropped with a plop on the cold empty ground. There were horses with jingling bells pulling a sleigh behind it. Hot chocolate stirred with a candy cane. It’s a picture of us trying to find that perfect tree. Even the boy with the face tattoo is there. He is the one taking the family picture of us finding that perfect tree. A ray of radiant light shines through the snow on the right one. We are all smiling and happy.

It wasn’t that way at all. It was raining and the kids had other plans. Paul ran out to the closest tree lot by himself and picked out the tree. But it was that way once. The problem is that I still expect it to be that way now. I spent some time that afternoon crying curled up in my bed playing lullabies that I once played for my babies. Is that normal?? I am off my rocker, literally and figuratively this time.

Is any of this normal?? Paul and I have been struggling lately with this very concept. This will be the last Christmas break that our whole family will be together. Angel is not planning on coming home after college this year. Alex will be graduating (hopefully) this spring and moving on. Arabella is still seriously interested in becoming a foreign exchange student.

I put a lot of time into this whole motherhood thing, and now my kids don’t need me anymore. Who am I now? I am excited to have time to myself to do the things I always wanted to do. But I never thought that the letting go process would be so painful.

Our son is really struggling right now. Although he is 18, we still have boundaries and rules because he is living in our house. We have been asking ourselves if his behavior is within the realm of normal. It was hard to let go of our firstborn, but she was heading off to college and we knew that she would be okay. We feel unsure about the future of our son.

There are really only two scenarios. Our son is completely normal. Then the problem is with us. We need to let him go even if he has to fall on his face a few times. He has to figure things out for himself. We need to let him go even if his future isn’t what we planned on it being.

The second scenario is a bit more troubling. What if he has mental health issues? Then I think it is our job as his parents to make sure that he gets the help he needs. But he is an adult. Is it our job to try to fix him?

Would you try to save someone from drowning if you knew that they knew how to swim??

I think that our son is normal. But what is normal? People have been asking us if he is depressed. I don’t think so. But I’m not sure. I want answers. I want to be guaranteed that he will be okay.

Letting go of a kid to go to college is normal. It is painful, but you are also happy that they somehow became fully functional adults with you as their parents.

But what happens if you think they are not ready yet?

This has been my struggle lately. I probably won’t get all the answers I’m searching for. Plus it doesn’t help that I have unrealistic expectations in my head of how I expect things to be…the way they once were, but no longer are.

Is any of this normal?

Learning (to let go) the hard way

I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know when it all started, the specific moment when things started falling apart. All I know is that now we are in crisis mode and I’m afraid that we can’t put it all back together in one piece.

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I took a week off of writing last week. It wasn’t intentional. The previous week my son brought home a paper to sign up for honors band several hours away out of state. I hastily made arrangements. I cancelled plans and found someone to work for me so I could take him. I thought that maybe this was all he needed to get back into wanting to go to college for music. But I was wrong.

You may remember back in September that we toured a college for music and then a week later Alex dropped out of band. After talking to the teacher, he decided not to drop out of band. Now he got kicked out of band, but I am getting ahead of myself in the story.

I thought this would be a good mother-son road trip, a time of bonding. Two days before leaving, Alex said he didn’t want to go because he would be missing a party a friend was hosting because a couple more friends turned 18. I was unsure whether or not we would actually go, but we went.

I dropped him off the next morning full of hope. I picked him up a couple of hours later full of dread. He didn’t like it so he just walked out. His teacher called me angry. I literally felt sick to my stomach because I was so stressed out. What was I going to do? I just wanted to go home. But Paul was so angry that he would’ve kicked Alex out. Plus I spent a lot of money to rent a cabin and it was a really long drive home.

Instead I decided to stay. I spent the weekend talking to Alex. He opened up to me and for awhile I felt like everything was going to be okay.

On Monday morning, I talked to Paul. I told him that we needed to have more fun and let go. Life is just not fun anymore. To be honest, I’ve been feeling so depressed that I didn’t want to do anything that helps me deal with my stress. I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to run. Putting one step in front of the other seemed like it would consume too much energy.

Later on Monday, we got a call from the school. Tuesday we met with the principal and dean of students. Alex is getting kicked out of band. He is also failing 2 other classes and may not graduate. He was suspended several days for being tardy, but at least he is still going to school.

We have just been beside ourselves for the last week trying to cope. We are going to be meeting with the school counselor and even set up an appointment with a regular counselor to help our son. The good news is that our son is talking to both of us. Paul and I have been taking turns talking to him. For awhile we think he will be okay and then we are filled with anger and despair.

Alex now has a dream to go into business. We are trying to keep that dream alive to motivate him. But it has been hard. Paul’s blood pressure has been sky high. I’m afraid to stress him out any more than he already is. I have been having stomachaches. Plus I have been struggling with depression. All the things that help me cope healthily I want to push away.

I feel very anxious and panic when I hear the phone ring. I have become paranoid that something bad is going to happen to him. I am not at peace in my life right now. I think people view us as crappy parents. But we are trying everything in our power to help our son succeed. We are trusting that God has a plan for him.

I am trying to take care of myself so I can help him. He is 18. Isn’t my job over? Is this why letting go of children into adulthood is so hard? Why do I feel like I am sending a two year old out to play in traffic? Is any of this normal?? He wants to leave, but he is just not ready. It’s so hard to let go when the future is uncertain. I will be able to do that a little easier once he graduates, if he graduates. Right now I want to fix and control.

I have to learn to let go even if things don’t go the way I want them to.

 

Change is in the air

The winds of change swirl around me as I enter the fall season of my life pushing me towards something new and different.

Over the last few days I’ve had to prepare myself for a lot of change.

I am preparing for my son to graduate from high school and leave home within the next year.

Yesterday Angel told me that she is not planning on coming home from college next summer. Then when she graduates, she wants to go to graduate school in Boston. Her time at home has come to an end. I am happy that she knows what she wants to do with her life, but I am sad that she is leaving.

Then a couple of days ago, our youngest daughter Arabella told us that she wants to be a foreign exchange student. She wants to spend her whole junior year of high school in a foreign country.

By next year at this time, we might have an empty nest. I am excited, yet nervous of the change.

Something else changed too. My mom is starting to have health issues. She has to go to the hospital this week for tests. It is very likely that she is going to need surgery. She might need to move in with us for awhile if she has surgery. My dad is not in the greatest health, so he wouldn’t be able to take care of her since she takes care of him.

Everything and everyone is changing all around me. Yet here I am taking it all in. Letting go of summer and preparing for the winter. My house full of teenagers might soon be a geriatric ward.

I don’t like change very much, but I don’t have much control over the seasons.

I always thought that autumn is beautiful though. Its crisp cool air hits me like the truth. A warm blanket, a hot flash of flame, a crackling fire takes away the chill. The trees shine in brilliant color the beginning of fall, full of experience and nutrients. It is a time to sort and prepare. The end of the beginning, the beginning of the end. No longer volatile and stormy. No longer sunny and bright. But comfortable.

A noticeable change of seasons is in the air. The leaves are starting to change color. But as of right now, none of the leaves have fallen totally from the branches of my tree.

 

The wedding of my best friend’s son

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There is a time in your life when you get invited to a lot of weddings. For a long period of time, that time was over for me.

Last year the last of my friends turned 40. Last year the first of my friends started turning 50.

It’s strange, I’m starting to get invited to weddings again. This time for my friend’s children. Ted turned 50 this last week and ended the week with his 25 year old son getting married.

Ted and Cindy are very excited that their son choose a wonderful partner to marry. I suppose as parents you couldn’t ask for more.

The wedding itself was held outdoors in a garden. It was a little stressful because it was supposed to rain. We could hear thunder in the distance all morning. I worried that perhaps I missed the call that the wedding would be moved elsewhere. We were in the boonies with limited cell phone reception. We brought umbrellas, but didn’t end up needing them.

Despite the forecast, the wedding went without a hitch unless you count the bride and groom. The ceremony itself was short and sweet. The longest part of the wedding was the procession with somewhere around 10 couples that stood up. The pastor was a newly ordained friend of the groom. There wasn’t a sermon. We didn’t sit long enough to shift around on the hay bales.

That evening at the reception hall, I felt a little old. I was tired. I felt rather mopey. Cindy was having a great time and dragged me out on the dance floor. I made a conscious effort to get out there and have fun. We were at a wedding, a grand celebration of love. I am a marathon runner for crying out loud. I can’t be sitting around watching the young folks dance.

I knew their son since he was little.

I really wasn’t expecting to feel nostalgic. I wasn’t expecting that I would need to hold back tears as the bride walked down the aisle with her dad. I wasn’t expecting to have watery eyes thinking about kids growing up and leaving. I wasn’t expecting to feel pensive and sad on a very happy day. Emotions can be funny that way…

I’m not ready for this.

This was the first wedding of a close friend’s child. I didn’t expect that it would be so emotional.

I love weddings…

 

Fortune cookie wisdom # 16

You will be unusually successful in business.

My husband Paul seems to get this fortune cookie every other time he gets Chinese food. My typical response is to laugh then throw the fortune away. It is true though. If Paul is a natural at anything, it’s business.

The strange thing is that I started to get this fortune. I don’t know if they made extra of these fortunes at the fortune cookie shop or what. Then I thought…why not write about it?? Maybe if I stop throwing the fortune away, I won’t get it over and over again and can get new ones. Hence more writing inspiration..

I don’t consider myself to be successful at business. I don’t come up with the ideas. I certainly don’t sell anything. I am more of the diligent working sidekick behind the scenes. I have been working with my husband somewhere around 10 years now.

This year we sold our successful start up business, but continue working as employees. We are planning on retiring in another 5 years and starting another business in an unrelated field. We both decided that we would go totally crazy if we didn’t have something to do with our time.

Paul just signed up to work on his captain’s license. We are planning on starting a sailing charter business. We’ve already had people approach us for sailing trips. This is not going to be a big lucrative money making business. It would be a hobby business.

Right now, it seems like I don’t have any time. When I am not working, I am cleaning my house, doing laundry, spending time with family, worrying, running, or blogging. If I am lucky, I can read a couple of books a year for fun or travel. Unfortunately, I have to be really selective with my free time. I have more things that I want to do than time to do them.

But in less than 3 years time, the kids will all be out of the house. In five years, I’ll retire. Maybe then I’ll have the time to do everything I want to do.

Maybe I will write a book, take a dance class, start working on genealogy again, do more traveling, write music, paint… The possibilities are endless..

On emptying the nest

My son didn’t come home last night.

It’s not that I was angry. I felt worried. He was planning on going to a late night movie with a friend, but he arrived too late as is customary of him. So he ended up spending the night at his friend’s house after the whole movie idea didn’t work out.

I had no problem with his plans…except the part where he didn’t tell me which wasn’t like him.

I told him that I was going to bed when he left last night. But I woke up several times during the night and started to text and call when he wasn’t home by 1:45 AM. When are you coming home? Are you okay?

He didn’t answer my calls or texts. I fell asleep on the couch near the front door with my cat. At 4:30 AM I awoke to the wheezy sound of my cat starting to puke with the projected target being the back of my head. I woke in a flash hurtling my cat away from my head and towards a carpet free patch of flooring. At 4:35 AM, I was stumbling around cleaning up cat puke in the dark. My son still wasn’t home.

I hardly got any sleep at all. As the operations manager, I had a lunch meeting scheduled along with our sales guy with one of our biggest clients who is expanding to several new offices. This would be my first time meeting this client in person and I would have to make sure I was on my feet the whole time after a sleepless night.

I went to work, still no son. I texted his girlfriend for clues. Finally after 10 AM, I heard from my son. PTL, he was alive! He said that since he got to the movie too late that he just decided to sleep over at his friend’s house instead. He didn’t want to bother me because I said I was going to bed when he left. He didn’t want to wake me up. Ha! He didn’t receive all of my calls and texts because he was already asleep.

Someday maybe he will learn that a parent can never fully sleep while waiting for a child to come home.

Soon he will be a child no more. Three more days until he is an adult.

My friend asked me if I had the talk with him yet…the talk about him being an adult with an underage girlfriend. I had a dream the other night, a dream that his girlfriend was pregnant. I awoke from the nightmare at 6:16, the date of his birth 6/16.

Ah, if only I could be so lucky to have one worry at a time!

 

In 2 more days..

In two more days, my whole life is going to change..

We will be closing on our new house and moving in this weekend…

Yesterday we walked to the nearby cemetery one last time for the Memorial Day service. We saw a lot of people that we knew from the community. We ran into some friends of ours that recently bought a plot for themselves there.

Where do I want to be buried? What kind of headstone do I want? What do I want written on it? I couldn’t get myself to make any decisions in stone yet.

Our friend has leukemia, so the concern for her is a little more immediate. She talked in a matter of fact manner about death, cemetery plots, and updating her will. The last time she updated it, she was looking for guardians for her children. Now her youngest is living out of state, graduated from college, and is engaged.

I understand the feeling, but there are some things I refuse to think about yet. We just updated our will and passports. I removed my mother and listed my oldest daughter as the main contact/decision maker. Will my mother be living when I update my passport or will again? She will be 70 this year. It wasn’t easy to think about.

The last few months have been very extreme as far as beginnings and endings go. I have a hard time dealing with change, even if it is for the better.

Even the weather has been extreme. Can’t anything stay the same/normal??? Last month winter did not want to let go. We had record snowfalls last month before we got hit by the blizzard. This last weekend we broke the records for hottest Memorial Day weekend.

I felt a lot of anxiety and trepidation the end of last week. I feel better now. For awhile I had this really strong feeling that something bad was going to happen. Maybe it was from all of the change or loosening the reigns of control. Angel flew out to Boston with a group from her college for a competition. Alex took his tax return money and bought a motorcycle.

Alex spent most of the weekend hanging out with friends. He doesn’t want me micromanaging his life anymore. He doesn’t want me to wake him up in the morning or remind him about the things he has to do. I guess I can’t blame him. It took everything I had not to wake him up a couple weeks back when I had to leave the house before he would normally wake up for school.

This weekend I noticed that Alex was at some sort of pond when I tracked him on his phone at midnight. It took everything I had not to call and ask what he was doing or where he was. I have to let go and it is hard. He will be 18 next month. I had to ask myself…Is it really so bad that he is at a pond on a 90 degree day at midnight?? Self, just go to bed!

I feel a certain isolation now that my kids don’t need me as much anymore. I tell myself that it is finally time to focus on my own life now. So I went trail running this weekend to practice for the marathon. I hit the trails for 3 hours each two days in a row. Then I had to ask myself honestly…Why the hell did I choose this as my hobby?? I was miserable, tired, irritable, sore, hot with temps in the 90’s, and bit up by mosquitoes. I felt this way all the more when I heard about all the fun things everyone else was doing.

Besides running and packing all of my earthly possessions, I did have a little fun. I was able to go sailing for the first time this season. After my long run, we sailed to the beach. The water was ice cold, but it felt great on my aching legs. I refuse to complain about the heat though…bring it on!! I love it hot.

I wish I liked change. It would be nice to just let go and not worry so much. These transitions are hard for me.

 

Reading the fine print

I have been lying to myself.

I’ve been telling myself that everyone my age is old, except me.

Here are 3 things that happened this week that shattered my illusion that I have been drinking out of the fountain of youth:

1). I went with my best friend to the wedding store to pick out a mother’s dress for her son’s wedding. All of my friends stopped getting married and having babies a long time ago. Now their children are starting to leave home, get married, and graduate from college. Before we know it we’ll be grandparents.

2). I bought a pair of reading glasses after visiting the eye doctor. I can’t see anymore like I used to. All of the little images on my phone are blurry. I can’t make out the scribbles on receipts or read the fine print. Why is everything so tiny?

3). My husband started walking. This one really hit me hard. My husband was a runner before I was. Now he decided that he would rather walk because it is easier on his joints.

But on the flip side, I finally figured out what I want to be now that I am older. I want to be younger.

 

Tickled pink

This is the first Easter that my daughter is not coming home. She is receiving a scholarship for singing in a church choir near campus. They really need her to sing for Easter services, so she is staying.

That is all a part of your kids growing up. Sometimes they don’t come home for holidays. I am okay with it. What choice do I have?? I spent the last 3 weekends with Angel, so that was nice. She made a special trip home to see a local Pink Floyd tribute band with me last weekend.

I feel a little bad because I was really tired when she came home. Friday night, my son Alex and I went to see The Dark Side of the Moon. It was an awesome show. We even talked to the sax player afterwards about my son wanting to go to school for music. He gave my son a lot of pointers. We ended up getting home at midnight.

Then I got up early the next morning and ran 10 miles. It wasn’t a regular run. I really cranked up the incline on the treadmill. I signed up for a trail marathon on my birthday this summer. It will probably be the most challenging marathon because it is going to be very hilly. After running, I could barely walk and had pain in my left calf for the next 4 days. I wasn’t expecting hill training to be so hard.

After I went running, I went bowling for a couple hours for my brother Matt’s birthday.

By the time I went to the show with Angel, I was pretty wiped out. I never had problems staying up late, running the next morning, a birthday party in the afternoon, and feeling too tired for a concert before. Am I getting old?? It was pretty easy having a conversation with Angel though.

I had a harder time making conversation with my son Alex the night before. If I ask him how he is doing, I irritate him. Are you okay, son?? How was your day? Are you thinking more about going to school for saxophone performance or jazz studies? I told you that already, just leave me alone, I’m fine!!! So we sat in silence at the restaurant until my son was ready to talk.

Then he started talking…I recently found out that my son is vaping. He asked if I had a problem with that. I am not happy about it, especially with the family history of lung cancer..But he is going to be 18 in June, so…What can I do about it?

Then he told me of his dreams to be a race car driver. Apparently he said his friends are building a race track. He wants to fix up cars and race them. He wants to drive as fast as he can. If I had to pick between living a long life or enjoying my life, I would choose the latter.

Why does he tell me these things?? I will be very happy if he outlives me. He is such a risk taker. Every time he comes home alive, I rejoice. I know it sounds crazy…there are some downfalls to actually talking to your kids openly. Ignorance can be bliss, but it is too late to stick my head back in the sand..

I had a great time watching The Dark Side of the Moon with Alex. Angel and I watched The Wall concert and the movie over break. She is really getting into the music which I think is great.

There are some nice things about having adult children. I finally feel like my kids are old enough to relate.

For that, I am tickled pink!

 

Thanksgiving break..

This morning as I was leaving for church, I noticed a letter on the ground in my driveway. I drove back towards my house to grab the letter. But it was just a receipt for glue. Glue?? Next to the receipt, there were pills strewn across the ground. What were the pills??

I started my cycle of worry for the day. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time worrying over the holiday.

Since we last talked, Angel came home from college. I’m amazed we made it this long living in a small house. Angel’s things cluttered the family room. We ran out of hot water one morning from showers. The girls bickered about sharing a room…one liked it quiet and dark to sleep…the other liked to go to sleep with light and noise…

I worried about Thanksgiving. I was afraid of how Matt would respond to Luke’s kids…but Luke and his family didn’t show up. They stayed home sick. The day was relatively uneventful except for a clogged kitchen sink.

Over the weekend, we found out that Alex’s ex-girlfriend Baylee started going out with Alex’s good friend Jake. This has caused a social media war. Horrible things were said online that shouldn’t have been said. People are choosing sides. Jake was the drummer in the garage band Alex was in. The band has been disbanded. I am terribly afraid that there will be a fight in school tomorrow. I have been really stressing about it and am trying to let it go. I tried to talk to Alex about it but he wants me to leave him alone.

I am struggling with the desire to let my kids go yet at the same time still wanting to hold on to them tight. Although I get along great with my son normally, he causes me so much stress that I want him to go to school far away.

This weekend we had a school choir tree lighting ceremony that Arabella sang for. As I watched the choir sing, I was reminded of the times that it was Angel performing. It was like time fast forwarded. I was reminded of other things that we did together when she was young and felt sad that those times went by so fast. I want to grab on to those moments while they last for all of my kids, but can’t.

Paul and I took a walk around to look at the lit trees. We were surrounded by young parents with small children fascinated by the wonder of the Christmas season starting. How did we get so old? I felt happy and sad at the same time. We are coming to the end of a long season of our life and soon will be starting another..

We did enjoy our time with Angel. Paul brought home a Christmas tree that Angel did most of the work decorating. Our cat found his warm snugly spot under the tree. It is very calming.

Angel is on her way back to school as I type these words. She is driving my car back. While she was here, the brakes started going out on her car. We didn’t feel that it was safe for her to drive it back. Alex’s car broke down this past week as well. What are the odds that two cars break down in the same week?? My kids are driving around cars that are as old as they are…At least they have cars to drive.

As soon as I got home from church, I googled the pills that I found in my yard. They were extra strength Tylenol…Whew! I also checked the receipt for the glue. It was purchased at a time when my kids were home..There were so many people in and out of the driveway the past few days…probably more cars than we had all summer. It could belong to anybody. The receipt could have blown over from the neighbors yard. Why do I waste my time in worry?