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?

 

A hurricane, a pocketknife, and luggage lost

Our flight went so smoothly that we were feeling smug.

There was that one brief moment when Paul realized he had a pocketknife in his backpack before going through security. Last time he got pulled aside after security. That was a little nerve wracking. He ended up having a corkscrew in his carry on luggage. 

Because I am a nervous flyer, I read a lot of articles about flying. Somewhere I read that flight attendants size up passengers to see who needs extra assistance in the event of an emergency and who would be of assistance. 

On a plane, I watch the flight attendants. I put on my music and watch all of the nonverbal cues. The flight attendant looked bored. Good, good…for a minute he looked worried when another attendant ran to the back of the plane. But then he laughed and went back to looking bored again. 

The flight was easy this time, too easy..I was expecting turbulence from flying over the storms caused by the hurricane. But the most difficult part for me was getting off of the Disney bus. It was dark and I missed the step by the seat. I caught myself from falling into the older lady beside me. How embarrassing! I tell you this often enough…for an athlete I am very clutzy. 

Since it was late, I dozed off in my clothes while waiting for our luggage. I woke up every couple hours and opened the door to find nothing. 

The morning came and still no luggage. Apparently I put the luggage tag on but not the sticker. I don’t remember getting one. So it was basically my fault. I called the resort and they weren’t much help. Paul was upset and called back. He is direct and gets shit done but tends to be more reactive than me. He told them that they needed to help find our luggage. Paul said he had medication in the luggage. He was so worked up that they asked if he needed an ambulance.

I am laughing so hard as I write this.

We decided to get some coffee. There were workers clearing brush that was scattered around from the hurricane. On a side note, Orlando didn’t seem to sustain much damage from the storm. However, quite a few of the employees said they didn’t have power at home. The biggest complaint I heard in this area was of people losing freezers and refrigerators full of food. 

With the exception of the customer service person on the phone, the employees were great. Even a few of the workers cleaning brush asked how we were doing. Paul said crappy. Another worker asked jokingly if he wanted to help. Paul asked if they had any extra clean underwear. I inwardly chuckled because I knew he would be part of the day’s story. We spent the morning with the conceirge trying to find our luggage with no success. It disappeared.

We decided to go to Epcot as planned. We were wearing the warm clothes we flew in with. The clothes we slept in. We didn’t have a hair brush, tooth brush, or deodorant. It was hot and humid out. Hotter in Florida than it was in Wisconsin all summer. We stunk! Paul’s wet underwear painfully chafed his skin. Of course we had to be covered from head to toe in black. We didn’t pack extra clothes in our backpacks. Maybe we’ll have to rethink this whole traveling light idea. 

We walked around the happiest place feeling dirty and miserable. I felt strangely emotional. It was unexpected. I remembered coming to Disney a few years ago when the kids were younger. Those were magical times, middle childhood. Back in the days when my kids were innocent to the evil in this world. For the most part, I am happy that my kids are growing up. I am ready to let them go into adulthood, but sometimes I miss the wonder and excitement of the younger years. 

I felt a completely unexpected sense of loss. 

But then my son texted saying he was feeling sick. We had an employee call in because her mom had a heart attack. At that time, I wanted to be done with it all. I wanted the stress and responsibility of parenting and owning a business to be gone. 

But instead, we lost our luggage. 

I’m going to have to talk to the person in charge of magic here…

My gosh, there is always something to write about. Isn’t there?

Thankfully due to Paul’s persistence, our luggage was found. Frontier airlines was great to work with although our luggage ended up in Denver. They even reimbursed us our luggage fee for our inconvenience. 

Finally clean underwear! Woo hoo. 

Now maybe we can enjoy being at the happiest place on Earth!

Fireworks..

DSC_0045 (4)

It was an interesting weekend on the lake. We headed up north Friday afternoon.

Saturday afternoon, my brother Mark and his wife Carla arrived. They decided to go to rummage sales. I asked to go with as it is always a fun thing to do being cheapskates and all. I was expecting being gone an hour or so. We ended up trudging back 4 hours later. Apparently Mark was kicking himself for not buying a junky accordion for $5 last 4th of July. The people did not have a rummage sale this year, but Mark was tempted to knock on their door to ask about the accordion.

I asked Mark to stop at the store on the way back. I brought everything along to make a banana daiquiri except the rum. As I was looking for the rum, there were some young folks stocking their cart full of liquor. They looked like they were 16. They happened to be right next to me in the checkout line. The cashier wanted to card the group of 5 young people until her manager told her that she only needed to card the one buying.

I pushed the door open on the way out and let it slip shut behind me as one of the young girls came out fast behind me. She muttered ‘bitch’ as she was leaving. At first I thought she was talking to me because I failed to hold the door open for her. I was about to turn around and have a conversation with her about her choice of words when I decided she was upset about the cashier and not me. I walked away not wanting to confront someone that was possibly underage. For a moment I pictured myself confronting the girl and ending the evening incarcerated. Sometimes anxiety works to my favor…just walk away.

The rest of the evening Mark and Carla fought. They didn’t seem very happy to be married.

Then my husband Paul’s stepdad Darryl showed up unexpectedly. Paul’s mother passed away in February. A couple weeks after her passing, Darryl discovered the internet. He has become obsessed with women that he could meet online. It is all he has been talking about. It really makes us uncomfortable.

Darryl was having a conversation via text with a hot younger lady the whole evening. She is younger than me. They were talking for several days and Darryl called her his new girlfriend.

The next morning she said her wallet was stolen and she was starving. She started asking Darryl for money. Darryl had to break up with his new girlfriend and seemed heartbroken. All this happened while Mark and Carla fought.

It’s sad that most people I know are just not happy…not happy being single, not happy being in a relationship. What is the purpose of that??

I told Paul that if he starts searching for my replacement a few weeks after my demise, I would come back from the dead and haunt him with a vengeance.

Every year my family goes up north together for the 4th of July weekend. It is almost like a family reunion. This year my brother Luke couldn’t come with his family. His dog was very sick and needed to spend the night at the vet. But that allowed my parents to come up with my brother Matt. Matt is still hearing voices and is obsessed with hurting Luke’s daughter.

Matt was acting strange.. He giggled like a maniac and became obsessed with the noise of the children next door. It was all very concerning and I had thoughts that I might have to protect those children if Matt freaked out. I remained vigilant, but nothing happened.

I spent three mornings swimming across the lake. It went pretty well. Paul kayaked or boated attentively by me. Every time I took a breath, I saw him there. Except for one time. I had a feeling something was off and I was right. There was a loon in the water 10 feet in front of me and I was heading straight for it. Swimming up north across the lake is terrifying because I can’t see what is in front of me, kind of like life is sometimes when things are uncertain. I probably would never swim again if I rubbed up against the loon.

Paul and I also took the 12 ft sailboat out. The wind picked up and the lake was quiet. Once we got quite a ways out, the wind died and everyone came back out on the lake. We were hit by the boaters waves and had to paddle to get anywhere. Then Paul dropped the paddle and had to jump in. Some of the boaters came by and asked if we needed help causing more waves. Time to sell that sailboat I think.

To tell you the truth, I was bummed out a bit up north this year. My oldest daughter Angel decided to go to St. Louis for the 4th to be with her new boyfriend. My son Alex didn’t want to come up either. I told him he had to come for one day. He showed up late Monday afternoon. He spent the night and left the next morning.

I expected that Alex would spend the day with us swimming and kayaking, but he wanted to go cliff diving with his friends. After he left, I cried a few tears. I felt so upset that he left. I wanted him to be there, but he didn’t want that. I felt hurt to let go of two kids at the same time.

I sat around feeling sorry for myself. We were just about ready to leave when we heard someone call our names from the lake. Our friends Cori and Randy were on a pontoon boat with friends. They kidnapped Paul, my youngest daughter, and I. It was so much fun that I forgot about my sadness for awhile.

That was my weekend.. Sorry it is so long.. I wanted to tell you this before I forgot.

We are leaving soon to go back up north to visit Lisa and Tom…another adventure awaits!

Midlife is getting old

Sorry to have possibly scared a few new parents yesterday with my talk about raising teenagers. I usually am more confident in my decisions. As the kids get older the decisions seem to be so much more difficult…As the old saying goes…Bigger kids, bigger problems..

How can I not be nervous? The decisions they make the next few years will be some of the biggest in their lives. They will decide who (if) to marry, if they want children, where they are going to live, their career path…pretty much everything that will effect the rest of their lives.

That is scary as a parent…letting go…letting them make their way..watching them learn lessons the hard way..

I can’t seem to relate to new parents anymore. I guess that is a clear giveaway that I am getting old..

Paul asked the other day if I missed having young children. “No” was my reply. Some of my friends are grandparents.

It has been a year full of changes so bear with me. I am entitled to go a little crazy every once in awhile.

My oldest daughter left home for college, then less than six months later Paul lost his mother. Together we lost our first parent and our oldest left.

We can see how the decisions our parents made in their young years effected the whole direction of their lives for good and for bad. Now we are seeing what path our children will take.

Within the last six months I also lost my last ‘great’ and now my parents attained the status of oldest living relatives. And I thought my parents were old when I was a kid!

This whole midlife thing is starting to get old. The kids are starting to leave home while our parents are starting to age rapidly and die.

I want to enjoy every single moment of life that I can.

This morning I awoke to the news that the baby of my neighbor’s daughter passed away unexpectedly. Last year my neighbor lost his wife and she was only 45. It just doesn’t seem fair. I feel such sorrow for the family.

It also makes me appreciate the blessings I have. It makes me want to squeeze my kids tight. Although I am not too sure they would like that.

I am doing the best that I can. I am trying to make the best decisions that I can for my kids. That will have to be good enough.

I am trying to grasp life and enjoy what I can now because this is as young as I am ever going to be.

Letting go of (not so) little hands

Last week my son turned 17.

It was my son that ended up in the ER the weekend before this past one. He hurt himself at the trampoline park. Thankfully, he just sprained his ankle.

This next weekend he wants to jump off a cliff. I say I want to do this all the time, but he is really planning on cliff jumping/diving.

I worry all the time. Is there any wonder why??

When I think I have it bad, I am reminded of a classmate’s son who checked jumping out of a car at 55 mph off his bucket list.

My son wants a motorcycle. We told him he needed to work on his grades and get a job.

The original job he had lined up fell through. Now he has a better job. He does general labor for a flooring company. It is hard, dirty work that pays unbelievably well. A job that pays enough to buy a motorcycle.

We decided to let him get his motorcycle license. Perhaps if you are reading this now and you are rather young, you think I am the world’s coolest mom. Or perhaps you are thinking I am the world’s biggest idiot.

I don’t even know anymore…But hear me out.

In less than a year, he will be getting a motorcycle with or without my blessing. He could very easily say ‘screw you mom and dad’ and be very reckless about it. Now we signed him up for a class at the local Harley Davidson, we bought him a helmet, and practically every safety item we could without putting a bubble around him. We are hoping to instill good habits now. Plus by the time he takes the class and gets the bike, he will only have 2 months to ride before it is too cold.

Believe me, I am not as excited about it as he is.

I really wish kids came with owner’s manuals. Or at the very least a flow chart. Is your child adventurous? Yes or no. Is you child a risk taker? Yes or no. Does your child follow the rules of the road? Yes or no. Each answer would pop up a simple pass or fail for each decision that needs to be made.

That would be the perfect world.

 

I loved it when my kids were young. I felt like I had some control. They would eat the food I gave them. They would go where I would take them. Then went to bed when I told them. They wore the clothes I picked out for them.

I realized the minute my children entered the world that they would someday have to leave it. I just don’t want them to leave this world before I do. I told my son that I would never forgive myself if something happened to him on a motorcycle. Children die all of the time. I can’t stop a car accident, a disease, or a natural disaster. Yet I worry about the things I have no control over.

My kids are going to make mistakes. They are going to get hurt. Letting go is a lot harder than I ever thought that it would be. I want to hold their little hands forever. I have to force myself to not over mother and smother my little birds and instead let them try out their own wings to fly. Sometimes it feels wrong. I spent so much time focusing on them. It is hard to let go. As strange as it sounds, it is hard to be me again. It is hard to do the things I want to do for me. It seems so selfish to be able to focus on myself again.

I hope I am making the right decision about letting my son get a motorcycle. But try as I might, I won’t be able to grasp his hand for much longer.

What I truly want for Mother’s Day

What I truly want for Mother’s Day…

Baby, I want to hold your tiny hand in mine one more time.

I want to gather you back into the safety of my nest.

I want to be able to kiss your owwies and take away your pain.

I want you to still think that I have all of the answers and that the world is a good and magical place.

I want to sit you on my lap and read your favorite stories…I can’t seem to remember the day it all ended.

I want to laugh off the people that say it goes by so fast as I hold a crying baby in my arms.

What I truly want for Mother’s Day…

Mother, I want to see the excitement in your eyes as I give you my scribbles on a piece of pink construction paper.

I want to see the beauty of your young face and the natural color of your hair. I don’t want to see signs of you slipping away from me.

I don’t want to think that this could be our last year together like last year was for my husband’s mother.

I want to think that the little things I do or say give you lasting happiness more than flowers or a card someone else wrote on this one day of the year.

What I truly want for Mother’s Day…

Grandma, how I long to hear your voice again…to hear you sing like a bird…to tell you that you gave my daughter your gift. I want you to fully understand the influence you have had on my life and how that impacted my children.

I want to smell fresh cookies as I walk into your house and know that you made a special batch just for me.

I want you to answer the phone when I call.

I long to see your house again, the way it was before the new people moved in.

I want to smell your sweet perfume, even the scent that remains in the half empty bottle is beginning to fade.

I wish you could walk alongside of me on this journey again..

This is what I truly want for Mother’s Day.