May

It is finally here, the month I have been dreading and waiting for.

My son will be graduating this month. Despite his procrastination and grades that are less than satisfactory, I think he is going to pull it off.

Alex has finally matured enough that I think he is going to be fine without us. He told me this week, that although he doesn’t say it often enough, he is going to really miss us and that he appreciates everything we’ve done for him. He also said that although he doesn’t spend a lot of time with us that he doesn’t want us to take it personally that he is leaving. He said that it is time for him to be an independent man now. I agreed. I told him that it was normal to want to leave home once you are an adult.

I am letting go and he is planning on leaving. He told me he isn’t planning on leaving the area anytime soon and will probably visit us a lot. That made me feel happy since my son is not the type to share these things.

Next month Alex is planning on moving out.

This month Angel will be coming home from college. But this summer she is not planning on staying with us like she previously did. She just put in an application for an apartment and is planning on staying here until she can move in. She will live 4 hours away.

Two out of three kids are planning on leaving home for good next month. I will be happy and sad to see them go. It is bittersweet.

We still have Arabella at home. She will be 16 this month.

We are also planning on filling the void by getting a foreign exchange student. Estelle from France will be moving in the beginning of August.

A new adventure awaits!

perspective

This morning I paced the floor. I felt anxious and stressed. Only 8 1/2 months to go. But who’s counting?

He overslept. Things were going so well the whole two days since school started, until today that is. He left at the time he should’ve been at school which is problematic since we moved further away. He had over a half an hour drive before picking up two friends on the way.

My son will be the death of me. If I disappear from the bloggosphere someday, you’ll know why.

Being late stresses me out. But since I am not one to be late, I am stressed out vicariously through my kids.

It put me in a really negative and anxious mood. I know I shouldn’t let my kid’s tardiness affect my day. But it is hard to just let it go sometimes.

Then I opened up Facebook this morning and saw a memory from a race I ran several years back with Lisa and her teen daughter that recently passed away in a car accident. We all placed in the small town race and were showing off our medals. Lisa’s daughter won’t be going to school today. She won’t be graduating, going to college, having a family…any of that. Maybe if she overslept she would still be alive, instead of falling asleep behind the wheel.

It really puts things into perspective.

Will my son’s tardiness be something that I will think about next year? It is incredibly frustrating today. Sometimes I need the little reminders to be thankful for the days we have together. I only have a few months left with him under my roof.

I’m trying to let go and not let his mistakes ruin my day.

 

New endings

I was planning on writing something inspirational today. But, hey, it’s a stormy Monday and I’m just not feeling it. I feel sad and tired today.

This past weekend Angel left to start her junior year in college. She really doesn’t need us anymore. Her boyfriend helped move her in. I guess I always feel sad this time of year. But with each passing year, it does get easier when she leaves. It is also hard to think of summer ending when we know the harshness that lies ahead.

Angel left on a good note. Even her brother Alex and her are getting along.

We’ve been struggling with Alex. We have a college tour scheduled in a couple of weeks and he just said that he is no longer interested in going to college. The only thing he wants to do with his life is music, which will be a difficult path even if he does go to college. Now that he is an adult, he is ready to move out. We have been talking to him and giving him advice, but he has no interest in listening.

We are out of touch and don’t know anything. Wait! I thought that was my parents, not me!!

I suppose it is the natural way of life. You have so much wisdom and experience to share with your adult children, but they just want to do it their own way. No one ever told me it would be so hard to see them making the wrong decisions. It’s laughable actually. I thought that when my kids became adults I would be done with this. But it is actually one of the hardest parenting times ever. For the first time ever, you have to learn to walk away.

My youngest daughter Arabella will be starting a new school next week as a sophomore. She decided that she wanted to get up early this week and prepare herself for having to get up early for school. She stays out of trouble, gets good grades, and has a job. She is very responsible. But will that all come to a crashing halt in the next couple of years?? I am afraid of that, but this time I am totally prepared for it.

I feel disappointment and sorrow. Maybe I need to change my focus from all that is going wrong to all that is going right. I have to let go and move on with my own life. I did everything that I could do.

 

Journal 5, part 3

It has been a rough week of posts here, hasn’t it?? Here is the funny post that I promised…It is akin to my parents stories of walking uphill to school both ways.

10/10/1990

I am feeling tired today. Last night I watched a movie at my friend’s house. Her mom rented a VCR and we had to take it back to the rental place by 10 PM. We left her house at ten to ten. On the way there, the car broke down. We knocked on a couple doors, but no one answered. We walked back to her house which took almost an hour. By the time I got home, it was 11 PM. That sure didn’t help my cold any..

Young folks, times were hard growing up. Watching a movie wasn’t as easy as perusing Netflix for the perfect show. From this journal entry, I am going to assume that the VCR rental was for my friend’s birthday which was a few days before the journal entry date. We watched Gone with the Wind and Adventures in Babysitting (great old movie BTW). I had no recollection of this event before reading about it…the previous day’s journal entry mentioned the movies that we were going to watch. I vaguely remember walking back to her house on quiet country roads late at night.

You were pretty much screwed if your car broke down in the middle of nowhere at night if no one answered the door. Forget Uber. Of course, sometimes you were screwed if someone answered the door. As a teenage girl, it was creepy going into a stranger’s house to use their rotary phone. It was also creepy allowing strangers into the house to use the phone. I think it is something the kids of today are told not to do…allow strangers in your house or go into a strangers house.. Of course, kids of today don’t need to worry about taking rented VCR’s back or leaving the house without someone having a cell phone.

Even going to the movies was complicated. We had to watch the newspaper for the new listings. Or sometimes we would call on a Friday night to listen to a long automated message stating the new showings. Sometimes the phone was busy.

Remember having to rewind the VHS tape after viewing? That took almost as long as the movie. The rental tapes would be plastered with stickers that said ‘Be kind, rewind’ and other obnoxious things. Then upon returning the movie to the store, the clerk would always pop open the tape case while glaring at you with an eyebrow raised prejudging if you were an evil offender that didn’t rewind. If you were a few minutes late (probably due to rewinding) with the rental drop off, you would be fined a couple bucks.

I can almost imagine the fines my friend received for returning the VCR the next day. Maybe the cops were called. Uh huh, car trouble you say…I bet your dog ate your homework too..

I never had to worry about renting a VCR at our house. We always had at least 10 VCR’s in our house at all times. Unfortunately, none of them worked or they ate tapes. My dad repaired them as a living and was always doing favors for neighbors on the side. People would literally stop by with their junk…broken VCR’s, stereos, TV’s…Discombobulated machines laid on our table and were strewn all over our house for months. My dad was a procrastinator. By the time he fixed the broken machines, the people forgot about them or were on their third one. But he charged them next to nothing.

I wonder how much time we wasted on video tapes?? Almost as much time as we spent waiting by the phone…

How did we ever survive???

 

 

Oh look, a squirrel!

I had an idea that the teenage years might be hard when my oldest daughter turned 13. We were on the road…my mom was driving and Angel was in the backseat. Angel asked us, “Did either of you have sex before you got married”? I choked on my spit while my mom almost drove off the road.

Oh look, a squirrel!

Awkward silence filled the air..You see, my mom and I never really talked about those kind of things..Growing up, my friends never had those conversations with their parents either.

I remember my mom sitting me down for ‘the talk’ when I was 12. I learned about sex from a friend when I was in kindergarten..I laughed uncomfortably and walked away…it was too late, I already knew..

Paul and I decided to be open with our kids about difficult topics and they have been particularly candid with us. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile..

When my kids were young, I thought they would always stay that way. I didn’t understand why parents of teens seemed to forget how much work it was to go anywhere with a toddler or how tiring it was to stay up half the night with a fussy baby..They always said things like…enjoy it while it lasts, soon they will be teenagers…I thought their comments were cold and callous…didn’t they remember how hard it was?

Now I have teenagers and I understand. I feel like I will be the parent of teens forever. I still don’t sleep at night..

I hear empty nesters say…enjoy it while it lasts, soon you will return to a silent empty house..

It was homecoming not too long ago..I took pictures of Alex and his girlfriend Baylee. It felt strange because not too long ago I was at the same location taking pictures of Angel and Mitch…They broke up this year after dating 3 1/2 years. Mitch is now a junior in college..It did go by fast, didn’t it?

DSC_0402

Homecoming

It seems like I was running around the whole homecoming weekend…I sold tickets for the football game and watched my son play for pep band during halftime. Afterwards, I received a call from my son telling me that he appreciated that I was there. Was something wrong? Did he need money?? No, he was just showing that he cares.

I have been upset with him about going to the party in the cabin for so long now that you are all probably sick of the story. Seriously, what teen would give up a weekend at a cabin without adults and with a seemingly endless supply of liquor??

I was angry at the girl that decided to throw a party that trashed her grandma’s cabin until recently. I found out that her parents divorced in June but are still ‘together’. Her grandpa died in June…it was a hard time and her daddy didn’t leave. Her mom got into a bad accident in July and needed help…her daddy didn’t leave..Her mom got better, then the girl threw a big underage drinking party creating so much stress that…you guessed it…her daddy didn’t leave..Maybe I understand her motives now…

My son didn’t have a party at our house nor at his grandparents cabin. He helps my parents with their yard work and turns down the money they offer him.

The other day my son said that he didn’t really care about his grades because this is the only time that he has to be young and have fun without responsibilities. Besides, he said, the most successful people in his life screwed up in high school.

My brother Luke has a wildly successful career. He was a complete screw off in high school, a million times worse than my son..My husband is another, he flunked out of high school Chemistry and had to take summer school. His grades were so bad in college that he had to take a semester off. Then he turned his life around. Now he is a successful business owner…But son, I could’ve been so much more if I applied myself¬† just doesn’t seem to cut it.

His role models of success showed him that what he does at this time of his life really doesn’t matter in the long run. I can almost understand his logic. But what he doesn’t know is how difficult their home lives were and the obstacles that they had to overcome.

This summer my son worked for a flooring company full-time. He had to get up in the morning at the time when many of his friends were going to bed. It was physically hard dirty work. He wanted to quit many times, but kept going.. He is a hard worker and that will get him far in life.

He is also a loyal guy…he has had the same girlfriend for almost a year and a half. Baylee is absolutely wonderful and we love her. A couple of months back I overheard a boy talking about a girl he was planning on hooking up with to his seemingly disgusted mother…Since when did previously taboo subjects become public conversation?? I was mortified. Hello, I am right here!

I had another opportunity to feel thankful for my teens’ fondness for long term relationships.

We have had struggles with our son over the years..I was talking to a friend lately commiserating about our teens like they probably do about us. She said something that stuck…Has he improved over the last few years? I felt better because he has improved immensely. Look at how far he has come.

A few months ago, I had to give that same friend a call about her daughter. My youngest daughter opened up to me and told me that her friend was very depressed. Please call her mom and ask her to get help..

I have not found one person that told me the teenage years have been a breeze. If you do tell me that then a) you are lying, b) you need to write a book on how you did it because obviously you have everything figured out, or c) you weren’t there.

Yesterday my 14 year old daughter asked while I was driving…Would you be mad at me if I decide to have sex in high school or would you put me on the pill?

Oh look, a squirrel!

I have to remember that soon I will be returning to an empty house.

 

Sweet baby

It happened on Father’s Day..

His first, his last..

I don’t even know him or the baby for that matter.

But I knew his mother from a long time ago, when she was a little girl growing up next door.

It seems hard to believe that I lived somewhere long enough in my adult life to watch a child grow up. She was so young when I first met her…younger than my kids are now.

When she outgrew her bike, she gave it to my daughter.

Now my daughter grew up and left home too.

I wonder what happens to the bicycles when there are no more little legs left to ride them.

The neighbor girl grew up to become a social worker. She rescues children from bad homes but couldn’t save her own child. The horrible injustice of it all must scratch at her wounded heart.

The funeral is tomorrow. It must be hard to pick out the last little outfit that your baby is going to wear in his coffin. I feel so much sorrow for you as I write this.

How devastating to have your baby ripped from your arms so unexpectedly. It’s hard to imagine him in a better place, a place without you.

Do you blame yourself?

Maybe if I noticed something wrong sooner…maybe I should’ve picked him up more when he fussed…maybe I should’ve stayed home with him longer before going back to work…maybe…maybe…maybe…this wouldn’t have happened..

It wasn’t your fault.

I can’t imagine the pain that you are feeling.

I’m so sorry you lost your sweet baby.

 

 

 

 

Ta(l)king f(l)ight

When Angel found out the news that her grandma passed away, she was on tour with her college choir. Then she came down with the stomach flu the next day.

I thought that maybe she wouldn’t want the lifestyle of being on the road after all of this happened, but she seems to want it more than ever.

Then there was this guy who took compassion on her while she was down when many of her other friends turned away….he bought her ginger ale when she was sick..he listened while she was crying…

Angel’s boyfriend Mitch was out at the movies with friends when Angel needed to talk…

Just like that, a 3 year relationship over..

I feel like the last thread of Angel’s childhood had been severed when she broke up with Mitch. It is really hard to let go because I miss her being my little girl.

Without tethers, she is soaring away like a songbird in flight. It will be exciting to see where her dreams will take her. It makes it easier to let go, although it leaves an empty place in my nest, to see her fly so high.

Mitch and Angel were going in different directions anyway. Perhaps it is for the best. Angel eventually wants to be an opera singer in a big city or preferably in Europe. Mitch wants to be a teacher in a small town.

This weekend Angel is performing in her first opera. Mitch bought tickets before they broke up to surprise her and still intends to go. He wants to get back together.

There is some talk of a confrontation between the new guy that Angel is not dating but likes and Mitch.

Once again, it seems like there is more drama off stage than on.

For a moment it took me back to ’91 when I was 16. At that time I was going out with this guy named Timmy T. Ironically, ‘our song’ was One More Try by Timmy T. It was a warm night in June when Timmy T and I gave it our last one more try. I picked him up and took him out to teen night at a local club. Once his friends showed up, he left me sitting in the corner alone.

That was the night I met Bobby. When I told him what happened with Timmy T, Bobby took him out to the parking lot to fight. They reminded me of a nature show when the young bucks would ram their antlers into each other. It was nerve wracking yet exciting that someone would fight over me, the damsel in distress. Oh please! Timmy T’s friends talked to me and asked me what was happening as if I knew a lot about boxing.

After the fight, Bobby and I went for a long walk and talked in the park. When I went back to pick up Timmy T, he had already left. The next day he called upset saying that his mom was going to buy me a promise ring from him. How could I ignore him?? Blah blah blah..he wasn’t half as nice as Mitch…and now my daughter is going through it..

I do remember Bobby asking me why I was hanging around Timmy T’s friends while he was fighting for me. Hello, I just met you and didn’t know your friends.

So I sit around and wonder…will there be a guy in costume with full makeup fighting in front of the school cathedral with Mitch over my daughter? Whose side will I take?? Is that how I will meet the new guy for the first time??

I certainly hope there isn’t any off stage fighting or drama.

Who knows? Maybe the whole weekend will be uneventful.

But if not, I’m sure you will be hearing all about it..

 

A simple gift

Most of the time it is the trials in life that shape and mold us into people with character and strength. It makes us better people.

But if I wholeheartedly believe what I just said…than why do I want the opposite for my children?

Paul and I are both (gulp) intellectuals. We try to provide an environment that stimulates learning and promotes education. We read the kids a lot of books when they were young. Paul and I both love to read. Paul spent half of our children’s childhood working on his Master’s degree. He spends hours researching topics of interest, such as, making a geometrical chart with the wind trajectory and sailing co-ordinates to try to improve his race to learning how to rewire his boat. They always see me writing.

We thought that our children would embrace learning, and most of them do. That is why we had such a hard time the last several years when our son kept bringing home failing grades. We knew that he was smart.

We weren’t expecting him to be just like his dad…

Paul grew up in a completely different environment. His mother, Martha, dropped out of high school before she got pregnant with him as a teenager. She tried over the years to get her GED, but never could pass the test. When she was in her 50’s, she went back to school to get her CNA certificate. Paul, the kids, and I watched her walk down the aisle in her cap and gown to receive her diploma. She was so ecstatic. It was the first degree that she earned in her life. Her excitement saddened me.

When Paul was in 4th grade, he moved from Chicago to a small rural town in Wisconsin. He moved up with his mom and grandma. Due to a brief marriage, Martha had a different last name than Paul. Paul shared the last name of his grandma. This was a very unusual situation back in the 70’s in that area. The kids picked on him because he had no dad. He had a mother with a different last name and still no dad. Everyone thought that Paul was stupid because his mother was intellectually slow. Paul thought that he was stupid too.

He didn’t have a parent that valued education. On parents day at school, he sat alone. His mom couldn’t take time off of work because she was a single parent and had bills to pay. She did what she had to do. He didn’t have someone in the house that could help him with homework. He didn’t have a dad to play catch with.

He failed a high school class and had to take remedial summer school. He ended up going to college because a friend was going and he thought it would be fun. He went to college, did too much partying, and still got bad grades. It caught up to him eventually.

Paul ended up getting kicked out of college for a semester. He went back to his small town and got a factory job alongside his mother. He noticed how poorly his mother was treated there. He couldn’t see himself living that way for the rest of his life. The next semester he went back to school and decided that he wanted to work hard to get good grades. He turned his life around. He even applied for law school, but got rejected.

Sometimes Paul feels like he could’ve been so much more..

He wanted a better life for our children. He gave them something that he never had, although it seems so simple, so basic..

Now it is up to them what they will do with this gift.

 

 

 

 

 

The boy in the trunk

I received my first call from the principal’s office the beginning of the school year.

I really wasn’t expecting it because for the first month of school their automated lunch reminder was on the fritz. I was used to getting calls every day telling me that my lunch account had a remainder of $0.99. Payment will be necessary or service will be denied. Good thing I didn’t hang up right away expecting the automated message. Otherwise I probably would’ve had my picture on the bad parent bulletin board that I suspect administrators, teachers, and staff have to throw darts at when they really get pissed off at our kids.

It started back in grade school, the first call from the principal’s office. Back in those days, my son and a few of his buddies decided to moon the kids on the playground. They all got suspended for a few days.

Most of the calls I received over the years were for similar mischievous pranks. This time was no different than many of the others.

It was the Friday of homecoming when my son decided to leave the school at lunch with a group of friends (against school rules for sophomores). There were so many friends in his (my) car that there really wasn’t enough room for them all (probationary license violation). So his friend Jay decided that he wanted to be transported to the local fast food dive in the trunk (wrong on so many levels). Seriously, what if my son got rear ended?

Not long after that, I received a visitor that came calling to my door late on a Friday night.

Just a little recap of other visitors that came calling to my door late on a Friday night.

There was a boy named Jake, his mom came to my door to say he ran away. (We found out later that Jake was hiding out at Isaac’s house). In the meantime, his dad flew in from the east coast. We scoured the corn fields, pinpointed stops along railroad track maps, printed out posters with his picture, and searched abandoned buildings, new construction, and storage sheds all while his grandmother cried. Not a good knock on the door.

There was another Friday night door knock from another parent regarding bullying that Isaac did to another boy. That was the first warning bell that went off that something wasn’t right about his friend Isaac. Eventually he got expelled from school for selling drugs. His mother said that he had aspirations of being a pharmacist. Wow, while in middle school. **((*^&*%%$&^$!!!!!

We received another late Friday night knock saying that Isaac ran away.  A few months ago, Isaac moved away. This will (hopefully) be the last time that I mention his name.

The latest Friday night knock on the door was from Jay’s mom. She stopped by to scream at me. Apparently, my son had an agreement with Jay that he would give him unlimited rides this year if Jay does it next year. Jay’s mom was pissed off that she had to pick up her son. Don’t I know that she works third shift?? She screamed at me and before I could say a word, she sped off squealing tires.

I could understand completely if she was mad that my son drove around with her son in the trunk of the car. I just don’t get some of these parents! Really?

Then a miracle happened…. My son said that he wanted to get into a good college. He said that his goal was to be on the honor roll. I almost passed out. For the past three years he failed so many classes that he was on the edge of having to take summer remedial classes.

What happened?? Did he want to prove to his new girlfriend that he was smart? Was it because the bad kid moved away? Was it all of grandma’s extra prayers?? Or is he just finally growing up?? This past quarter he almost made the honor roll. To me it is not achieving being on the honor roll that matters as much as the striving for it. He cares enough now to try for it.

And to think that I thought my best option was to avoid being home on a Friday night!

 

And so it begins…

It happened this past weekend. I was hoping with my last child I would have just a little more time..

Angel has been dating her boyfriend for almost 3 years.. Alex has had a girlfriend for the last 4 months…Thankfully, I approve of their choices!

I imagined Arabella staying single and living at home forever….hmmm… Maybe this type of thinking is an irrational coping mechanism?? Why can’t time just stop for a little while??

My friend Cindy was over this past weekend. One of her son’s is two days younger than Arabella. A group of neighborhood kids decided to go for a bike ride. One of the boys admitted to Cindy’s son that he has a crush on Arabella. Or maybe it was more of a ‘stay away I like her’ kind of thing.

Cindy’s son told Arabella that this boy has a crush on her. Arabella confronted this boy about his feelings towards her. The poor guy got so flustered that he steered his bike right into the ditch. He was crashed, crushed, hurt, and full of dirt calling out for his mother.

Arabella only likes him as a friend.

And so it begins…