The worrisome life of the rebel’s mom

He is 17, tall, dark, and handsome. He has boyish good looks with small features. He has thick brown hair with a mess of curls.

He is seen driving around with the most beautiful girls in school. He drives fast and doesn’t wear a seat belt. In the summer months, he rides a motorcycle. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that you saw him with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

He is tough. He was a wrestler for many years and now he wants to be a boxer. If only his parents would say ‘yes’. He never steps down from a fight. He would fight anyone that threatens his girl. He would back up his buddies in a fight. He doesn’t let anyone tell him what to do.

He likes to do daring and dangerous deeds. He is the first to dive off the highest cliffs. He rides the scariest roller coasters…he skateboards..plays football..He has no fear. He demands respect.

He can mesmerize audiences with his ability to perform. He learns how to play almost any instrument he picks up. For awhile, he played an electric guitar in a garage band.

He is smart but only willing to work hard when he wants to. He is good at chess and leads his friends into gaming battles of strategy.

He is quiet and mysterious which beckons to be drawn out. He is a bad ass, a rebel…not easily tamed. He wears a lot of black. He is every bit ‘bad boy’ and not a bit ‘nice guy’. He is humorous, exciting, and adventure seeking. He likes to party and have fun. He never cries or shows signs of perceived weakness. He is honest and stands up for what he believes in.

He has a lot of qualities that most young women seem to find irresistible.

He also has a lot of qualities that make his mother (even if she was a calm woman, which she is not) feel worried.

Wings without roots

Last weekend Paul went ice fishing with Darryl. (Yes, it was still cold enough here despite the calendar saying something about spring).

Paul and Darryl talked about fatherhood. Usually when the guys go out on the ice, they talk about nothing even if they are gone for the whole weekend. There is never any interesting gossip to share. Unlike getting together with a group of women which usually includes emotions, crying, and gossip galore.

Darryl told Paul that he was working on his will. Darryl wants Paul to be the executor of his will. Paul told him that he didn’t have to worry about giving us anything. After all, he isn’t Darryl’s real son and his mother is gone now.

Darryl has two sons. He kept his landline for years just in case they called. After Martha passed, Darryl was in rough shape. He really wanted to contact his estranged sons but didn’t have a way. I was able to find one of the sons on Facebook and told him to give his dad a call. Both sons called, but didn’t attend the funeral or even send a card. That was really upsetting to Darryl.

I always thought that Darryl would’ve been a great father. His ex-wife left him and moved out of state with their two boys when they were little. She was bitter and poisoned their minds against their father. He had the boys every summer for a few weeks. They were always trouble. They would steal money that wasn’t hidden away. They got in trouble for shoplifting. Both boys spent half of their adult lives in prison.

Martha always had that over Darryl. Look at your sons in prison while my son got an MBA and started a business.

So it went on for many years…Darryl wanting his sons…a father without his sons…Paul wanting a father…a boy without a father..


Too bad Darryl came along after Paul grew up.

Darryl told Paul that he was a wonderful father for never having a father

Then the conversation turned to the identity of his real father. Darryl thought that Paul’s brief step-dad in early childhood was his father..

How can you be married to someone over 20 years and not know the identity of their child’s father??

I found that shocking. Wouldn’t you??  I guess that secret has been buried with Martha.

I asked Paul if he ever wanted to find his bio dad. Now would be the day and age to do it..We only have snippets of info to go on..his name was legally omitted from the birth certificate…but we have an approximate age…69…last name Wilson…no first name, just initials…in a Chicago motorcycle gang…from somewhere else…Kentucky or Tennessee…red hair…green eyes…

He may have died in Vietnam…he may have tried to steal Paul…he wasn’t interested at all in being a dad…the same conflicting stories told over and over that never made any sense.

Is any of it real??

I admit to being a little curious over the years, but Paul never wanted to know.

Sometimes, I google variations of the name on Facebook or online. Is that your father?? Is that your dad?? Sometimes the temptation to open Pandora’s box is rather great for me…But I can see that the problem with opening that box is the risk of knowing what is inside..We can’t unknow things after they are known..but sometimes, just sometimes, I want to peak inside..

Maybe I am looking for the wrong things…

Am I blind to what is right in front of me??

I should focus on the here and now without looking back…appreciate the man with strong wings to fly alone…and not look for hidden roots…

Maybe some things are better left buried…hidden in the past…forgotten forever..

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!


A storm is brewing

I feel the edginess right before the storm hits. The peacefulness and calm from my vacation is leaving slowly like a summertime tan. I feel the wind surround the emptiness inside of me, trying to find a void to fill with cold icy snow. The warmth and sunshine are gone now. Sorrow, darkness, and anger encapsulates me. I cry out to God, but He doesn’t seem to hear my prayers. I feel the tug of emotions trying to drown me in a river of despair. I am alone. I want to be alone. I don’t want to talk. I really don’t want to do anything.

It has been a hard start of the year. I miss my neighbor and friend that passed away a couple of weeks ago. Every time I look at her house, I think that she is still there. She will pull her car out of the driveway and wave at me. We were supposed to do something together next week. But guess what? I can’t go. I looked over the old messages that she sent me. My heart tells me that she is still alive. She just can’t come outside. My brain tells me to stop being such a fool. Stop pretending that things are fine.

Last summer my best friend moved to Florida. I had the opportunity to spend time with her while we were there on vacation. I didn’t realize how much I missed talking to her and seeing her. I miss her. I don’t feel like talking to anyone else. In 4 months, my oldest daughter will be leaving the house. I am excited for her to start the adult chapter in her life, but I am at such a loss. I started crying while she performed her solo and ensemble song for me. It bothered me that she sold her junior prom dress. It just seems so final.

Then yesterday we found out that my mother-in-law has stage 4 terminal lung cancer. They are giving her around 15 months to live. Wait a minute, I am not ready to deal with the loss of our parents yet. I have been having a hard time with this since I saw her last week. I have been feeling sad and angry. With all of the people that were praying for her and my friend that passed away, why didn’t God heal them? I don’t have any control. Why should I expect miracles? I feel helpless. Who can avoid death? It has given Paul time to say goodbye to his only parent. That has been good for him to spend time with her.

This morning my son got suspended from school. He got in a fight with someone in the hallway. It has been no secret that my son has been struggling with school for the last couple of months. He has been begging us to switch schools for a couple months now. Apparently a boy called him a faggot on facebook back in December and has been bullying him with some other kids. My son got in his face today. I suppose that it shouldn’t surprise me that the day after my son finds out that his grandma is dying that he confronts this other boy. Words were exchanged between my son and this boy. They were pushing and shoving each other in the hallway. Then I received a call from the school that my son was suspended for 3 days. He was trying to provoke the other kid that was picking on him. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we can finally resolve this issue head on.

We are expecting a snow storm today. We should be getting somewhere around 8 inches of snow with blowing winds. It just started to snow.

Wrestling with the school

My son Alex used to be involved in almost every sport offered in the area, but not anymore. He started wrestling when he was in kindergarten. He was competitive, aggressive, and not afraid to get hurt. To be completely honest with you, I loved being a wrestling mom. I even loved getting up early on a Saturday morning to sit for hours in a loud stinky gym for those few minutes of anxious excitement. Most of the moms didn’t like the sport very much because they were afraid that their children would end up hurt. Most of the kids would leave the meets bumped and bruised and at almost every tournament someone would leave the gym on a stretcher.

The sport required a high tolerance of boredom and anxiety. I have seen almost everything over the 8 years that I was a wrestling mom. I have seen kids puking into garbage cans and heading back to the mat. Or more common, kids with bloody noses. Little kids running off crying after losing a match. Siblings would sit bored for hours playing their video games. Babies cried. Parents would coach from the sidelines losing their voices like they spent the night at a bar. I have seen kids worry over a couple of extra ounces when they were trying to make weight sucking on Jolly Ranchers and spitting into water bottles. I never liked that part. I have seen parents escorted out of the building for fighting with refs over calls. Some kids would win, others would lose. Pictures at the podium. Pins for your hat. Then we would pack it all up and head back home until the next weekend.

Alex was a B+ wrestler. When he was in 6th grade, he tried to make it to state. Only the first and second place in the weight bracket would make it to state. If I remember right, there were 8 kids in the weight bracket and Alex took third. However, another district had only one child in the weight bracket so they called Alex up to state. For the next two weeks before state, Alex wrestled twice as much and twice as hard. On the drive to state, Alex fell asleep and woke up with a kink in his neck. He pinched a nerve or pulled a muscle. We tried everything we could think of but Alex could not hold his head upright without extreme pain. We watched his teammates wrestle while Alex had to forfeit every game. We were so angry. He worked so hard. It was such a fluke thing that he made it to state and then he couldn’t even wrestle. So we resolved to do everything possible to help get Alex back to state the following year.

Alex went to summer wrestling camps and we signed him up for very intense wrestling training 2 months before the wrestling season started. This involved an extra expense and 2 hours of driving every time he went. He was very motivated and worked hard. He became an A- wrestler. In school, he was second in his weight class under an A wrestler. With all of the extra training, he could beat the A wrestler 1 out of 3 times. This is where things went incredibly wrong for him. He took on the alpha. This is a boy whose dad was a wrestler that graduated from that same school.  He was friends with a lot of other boys whose dads were wrestlers that graduated from the small town school. He got a lot of the other kids to turn against my son. A couple other kids were getting bullied as well. Some of the boys were being pushed around and had their wrestling shoes thrown in the toilet.  We talked to the coach, but he didn’t do anything.  One day my husband couldn’t take it anymore. He took Alex with him to confront the boys that were bullying him and to talk to their parents. Things got better for awhile.

Then a few weeks before trying to make state, my son came down with the flu. He missed a week of school and when he came back he didn’t wrestle as good. He still tried hard but then hurt his neck again in the same place as before. He spent a week in a lot of pain. He never made it back to state and quit wrestling altogether. Even though we tried to help him become a better wrestler, in hindsight I am not sure it was worth it. Being better jostled the system that was in place, the hierarchy. Since then my son has been ostracized from the jock group, he quit all sports, his grades dropped, and he has a negative attitude about school. He hangs out with other kids that aren’t accepted. Kids that have been known to steal things, do drugs, and run away from home.

My son begs us to take him to another school which has been tempting since he has two really good friends that stay out of trouble in the neighboring school district.  But would that teach him that he can run away from his problems? That he doesn’t need to change negative things about himself in order to get along with people better? Or would it give him a better attitude about learning and opportunities to grow socially and academically?

We have a lot to think about before the next school year.

Snow tires

In our school district, we have a late bus that drops kids off at various locations after after school activities. The late bus has been a good experience, well except for that one time. What can I say? Snow tires!

When my son was in middle school, he took the late bus to the drop off spot after wrestling practice. One dark, cold, winter Friday night I went to pick him up and had a little adventure. I attempted to make a Y turn and slid on the ice into a snow bank. So here I was with the back end of my car hanging out sideways on the road. My headlights were buried in the snow and I was afraid that oncoming cars would not be able to see me. Yeah, right about that time I had the image in my mind of getting hit by the bus. I called my husband in freak out panic mode. He was in the middle of making supper and couldn’t get there right away. 

Right after I called home two men, that were strangers to me and each other, showed up and pushed my car out of the snow bank. I really appreciated their kindness. Immediately after that, my son showed up on the late bus. He got in the car and exclaimed that he forgot his homework and wrestling gear on the bus. Big problem because the wrestling meet was the next morning. So here I am trying to flag down a school bus in the dark. The first stop I tried to send my son to get his stuff but the driver didn’t see him and left. So here I am driving along side of the bus waving and honking trying not to hit kids wandering around in the dark. Finally my son got his things off the bus. 

In the meantime, my husband set aside supper to help get me out of the snow bank. Except, I was no longer there. He was getting really worried that perhaps by snow bank I meant ditch. Or something really bad happened, like the bus driving around with my car in its front grill. I tried calling him in the process, but he already left. Thankfully, we all made it home safely that night. This winter I will be sure to have good snow tires.  

Confirmed, part 1 

I am sitting inside watching the rain fall like little tears from heaven. I sit and think. Thinking again. I am waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting for a large Saturday morning cup of coffee out in my hot tub. It is my tradition. 

When I think of church, I think of traditions. Rituals always done the same way. But what if it rains? What if things change? I have been to many different denominations. Even non traditional churches have their routines. The same similar structures every week. The way it starts, the way things end. The time it ends always the same. Ritualistic, though intending not to be. 

Tomorrow my son is being confirmed in the church we have chosen. It almost didn’t happen. Remember a couple of weeks back when I still wished my grandpa was here with us? He still is here. I see him reflected every day in my son. My son didn’t want to just go along with the rest of the group. He has so many questions, more than answers. Like his great grandpa, he is so full of piss and vinegar to be agreeable to conform. He felt too imperfect to be a Christian. He is honest and I respect that. 

We ended up having a long conversation with our pastor. It came down to my son having to make a decision. Are you with us or not? My husband talked to my son about leaving the door open for God. Faith is not a perfect all or nothing compartment that my son wanted to put it in. He struggles, don’t we all? He questions, shouldn’t we all? 

He decided to get confirmed. He is leaving the God door open. He made a drawing of Jesus carrying a cross through an open door. He also picked the verse of Revelation 3:20. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 

Whether we choose to believe or not, shouldn’t we always be seeking to answer the questions we have in life. To not be stagnant. To not just go with the flow. Life is meaningless without having meaning in it. 

The rain clouds parted, time for my Saturday morning ritual. Then I will put on my Martha apron, cooking and cleaning for the party tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I will be Mary. Always a work in progress….

Running away

I thought that after how hectic last week was that this week would be a breeze. Boy was I wrong! This week has been just as stressful if not more so. I left off with recent events telling about my brother’s wedding, coming back home and getting a cold, and ended Monday with the news that a best friend of my son’s ran away from home. Things would’ve probably ended up fine if he would have came home later the night he left, but he did not. 

My son and his friend Logan were the last ones to see Jake. Jake bragged on the bus ride home Monday night that he was going to run away from home. His friends didn’t believe him because he said that before several times and never did until Monday. Monday night our summer days reached an end. A cold front brought the wind and rain. Logan saw Jake walking down the road in the pouring rain with a backpack on. Logan called my son and they attempted to stop Jake from running away. He had a backpack full of clothing, water, food, and a couple knives. He told the boys he was going to catch a train out of town. The boys tried to stop him, but he ran off into a corn field. 

At this point, the boys went over to Jake’s house to alert his mother. Jake was born to teen parents who ended up marrying other people and having other children. He was having a lot of conflict with his stepdad. His father lives out of the state. I thought Jake would come home that night. 

Tuesday morning arrived, but Jake had not. His dad flew in to help try to find him. The neighborhood was scoured. Abandoned buildings, deer stands, unlocked sheds, farms, the railroad tracks, the park, fields, and woods were searched with no signs of Jake’s whereabouts. After school, my son and a group of boys looked for him in their secret hiding spots. I offered to search the corn field where he was last seen. All I found was a battery and an empty sleeping pill wrapper on the ground. The corn was over my head and I was searching after dusk. I heard noises out in the field and was convinced there was a bear coming for me. It was scary. When it got dark, we all met back by the road. A night bird cried out. Jake’s mother mournfully responded by shouting out Jake’s name. He was not there. 

We went back to Jake’s house where the boys were questioned some more. Jake’s stepdad was pouring over Google maps and also was looking over the railroad track locations. Jake’s grandmother cried. No one had slept the night before, no one had eaten. There were tears, anxiety, and anger. It was heart wrenching to see the family’s pain. They were so desperate trying everything with no answers. We decided to search outside of a trailer of a friend of the boys that recently moved out that had a broken window. Jake’s dad cried out his name in anguish receiving nothing but empty silence. After this, I took the boys home. It was going to be a cold night, near the freezing point with a boy who ran away a day ago into the pouring rain. We feared hypothermia. We feared death. 

Last night Facebook got flooded with missing person posters. Jake was spotted near a highway about 30 miles away. This morning brought relief that up until last night, Jake was alive! A couple of hours later, Jake was found. 

All of this brought back memories of the times that my autistic brother Matt ran away from home as a child. Multiple times he ran away. At times we had a search for him in the woods near our house. We feared for his safety. He couldn’t take care of himself. It brought back brief moments of the terror we went through searching for a lost child. 

Lately I have seen a lot of banter going back and forth about who has the hardest job as a parent. I want to offer my opinion. Parenting is hard! It doesn’t matter if you are a biological parent, a step parent, a foster parent, a parent of one or ten, or a parent of the disabled. If you want to be a good parent, it is difficult. It takes everything that you have. I think that parents who have both disabled and “normal” kids probably have one of the toughest roads to walk. We need to work together to bring our lost children back home. I am not sure what will happen with Jake now, but I feel a lot of relief that he made it home safe.

A letter written to my only son

Next week my son will be starting high school for the first time. As part of the orientation tonight, parents are strongly encouraged to write a letter to their child to read upon graduation. I wanted to share my letter with you:

To my only son as you graduate, 

I remember the day you were born. Your little cowlicks promised wild curls that would be untamable. You were a mama’s boy, I thought for awhile that you would never grow up, never want to leave. We would sit for hours reading stories of monkeys stealing caps, the adventures of toad and frog, or about the puddle ducks and Peter Rabbit. Then one day we put the kids books away. 

Remember when you used to suck your fingers? We tried everything to get you to stop. We tried putting a mitten on your hand at night and the spicy varnish which you exclaimed to like spicy foods. Then one day, you decided that you were too old to suck your fingers and stopped on your own. 

Then you got older still. You told your dad and I that you no longer believe the things that we believe. You said you needed to figure things out on your own. Even though we worried, we knew that you needed to find your own way in life. I sometimes fear that the road you walk will be rocky, but sometimes even the “Rocky Road” can be sweet. Once you find your place, I know that you will stand up for what you believe even if you are standing alone. That stubbornness and conviction is something I’ve always admired in you. 

Earlier this week, you told me that you really didn’t want to be with me anymore, that you wanted to hang out with your friends. For a minute, I wanted that little boy back. As much as I want to hold you tight, I know that I have to start untying the strings that have you fastened to my heart. I have to start letting you go. I hope and pray that you find the right path to start your journey on. No matter what happens, your dad and I will always love you. 

Love, Mom