“Becoming a mother is life altering.” I hear that. I read that. I laugh at that.
Obviously, we are not talking breaking news here. Yes, becoming a mother alters you life. Forever.
“Alter” is nice, polite. A pleasant word for change; a slight, sweet modification, perhaps. The perfect dress that just needs to be slightly altered, a hem. Pin, tuck, sew. There…perfect. Altered.
In regards to pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, “alter” is more of a tsunami in the Bermuda Triangle of physical body change, emotional mental upheaval and a soulful evolution that grounds your life’s existence on this planet.
Alter? That is precious, but it doesn’t even come close.
25 years ago today, my life was not altered. My life was shattered. Shattered into a million, brilliant beautiful pieces of light, that have since rained down over me, reflecting all that is good and true and funny and beautiful in this world.
A million, brilliant laughs with a million, brilliant happy tears.
A constant brilliant shower of an authenticity, a shining light that I had never known, yet recognized immediately.
Strong, intelligent, beautiful, courageous, assured, nurturing, wise, creative and the funniest goddamned person I know.
Whatever she does, wherever she goes, she and I will always carry that moment inside us. When the million brilliant pieces of light shattered, rained down from the heavens, blew gracefully through the early morning warm summer Texas breeze and whispered, “mom”.
We were told only to dress warmly. The guides provided Brawny Man snow boots and gloves. They gathered the eight anxious and emotionally worn families, assured us that we would have “fun” and we headed out.
In knee-deep snow, I quickly found a cadence that allowed myself to navigate the loose powder like a gazelle, prancing over a billowy blanket. The scenery can only be described as Mother Nature at her finest meets…..Fargo.
Ahead of us, the pristine, untouched snow represented the hope and dreams of every person on that trip. By simply looking behind us, our footsteps and the wrecked, demolition of nature in our wake represented why we were on this adventure, in the first place.
For fifteen minutes we trudged, Jordan and Larkin at my sides, we were already giggling. “Where are they taking us?” Joshua walked ahead with his new friends. I thought to myself, “He’s only know these guys for 30 days and they know everything about each other.” Then, I realized, “Hell, I’ve just met these other parents 4 days ago and I will remember them forever.” Let’s just say, you really get to know folks pretty quickly in a “group” setting.
What a week. Starting the New Year, 2013, in Montana. At a young men’s rehab facility. What was it, that Dr. Seuss said? Ah, yes…”Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
Larkin and I were not blind sighted by our son’s addiction to prescription pills. Addiction runs loyal and deep on the male side of our family. Hello? Remember my brother-in-law’s book? (And yes, he is named after his uncle.)
Still, you’re really never prepared to watch your child pour out his heart, declare his failures and share his darkest secrets in a big circle of strangers under fluorescent lighting.
I had never been to any kind of group therapy/meeting. I had always said my last name when I met new people and I most certainly had never heard my name echoed right back to me, by a room full of people who looked exactly how I felt. Heartbroken, terrified and clueless.
We were all shell-shocked families gathering in a warm cabin, remarkably sharing the same story. We were all the same. Sure, different backgrounds, different settings. But, we all had the same questions burned into our eyes, written all over our faces…will THIS work? Is this nightmare over?
On that last morning of Family Week, a year ago today, we trudged into the woods for our “Family Course Challenge”. The counselors asked our sons, ages 14-22, to blindfold their families and asked us to be silent. (Ha!) Joshua tightened the bandana around my head and I quickly realized I didn’t have my bearings as to where Jordan and Larkin had ended up. Our sons gently maneuvered us into a line and we were told to grab the rope to our right.
Where? What rope? Where? Oh, whew, okay I got it, I got it. No talking! Ssshhh. Silence, please!
The guide announced that we would be taking a hike. Blindfolded. In silence. In three feet of snow. Led by a bunch of addicts.
Our chain gang began the hike gingerly, each of us trying to step accurately without falling. It was made difficult by each of the 16 people blindly tugging and pulling on the same rope. We must all look drunk right now. It took us all a few minutes to steady ourselves, but we developed a rhythm quite quick.
After awhile, I found myself in the groove; even daydreaming about the sound of the quiet. I was really taking in the sounds; my boots crunching in the snow, the group’s collective breathing, a lonely bird cawing overhead. Probably a vulture biding his time, I thought, surely one of us is going down.
The crisp, fresh air felt like an astringent on my face. Funny, I wasn’t even cold. I was just in the moment.
Then, up ahead, the path became rocky and one of the moms bobbled. The rope started to lurch forward and I immediately felt a panic mixed with vulnerability and competitiveness. “There is no way I’m falling!”
Oh, no…I can’t yell and I’m starting…to… to fall…wait, no…oh!
In one superhero-like flash, two powerful hands grabbed my shoulders from behind me, caught me before I could fall, straightened me right up and whispered in my ear:
I got you, mama.
My breath stopped. It was so quiet that I felt my beautiful baby boy’s whisper echo right through me, into the trees and out into the morning air. “I got you, mama.” I hadn’t even realized that Joshua was near me, watching me struggle blindly. Literally.
That gesture, him catching me; taking care of me, overwhelmed me in an instant. I recognized the cold that very moment, as those first hot tears spilled down my face in silence. My son saved me from falling.
Just like we were trying to save him.
Every time I recall this story, my throat catches. It is hands down, one of the top five most precious moments of my life. That hike, that day, that whole week, actually. The love, strength and honesty we shared with each other, with total strangers, was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.
If you would’ve told me that one of my best New Year’s ever would be “Family Week” at a substance rehabilitation facility, in the mountains of Montana, I would’ve simply replied: “You must be high.”
one year and counting
I gave myself a full year, before I shared our story. I am more than proud that Joshua chose help and committed to this path, made even more challenging as he is a college student. As hard as it was, I can honestly say, that 2013 was a great year for our son.
If you have a loved one in your life that has a substance addiction, please do not feel alone. Get to an Al-Anon meeting, find a trusted friend or get in touch with me. Keeping it to yourself only adds to the fear. I promise you, it is more common than you think. You are not alone.
So, I spent an “awesome” week in “Marina Del Rey” with my daughter, Jordan. (Say it like the SNL skit, “The Californians” for full effect.)
We, of course, had our lists of songs, videos, movies, trailers, tweets and memes to share with one another. Pour us a couple of cocktails and the two of us are off babbling like third graders on some sort of wild, extreme show and tell.
That is what I love best about our mother daughter relationship. We get each other. We are movies and music and NFL and superheroes and pirates and comic con wanna-goes. We do not shop, but if forced to, it has to be fast. In a mall or department store, we will lose the ability to verbally communicate in about 30 minutes. We don’t pour over fashion mags or celeb rags. But, we can go into full-blown geek mode with showing each other the latest mind-blowing “Star Wars” or “Avengers” meme. We swoon over food and cocktail recipe porn on Pinterest.
Mostly, we are simply entertained by making each other laugh. That is our relationship. We don’t bicker. We laugh. We do not argue. We laugh. We do not judge each other. We simply laugh. We are in a constant celebration of the 23 years of sheer entertainment we have continued to provide each other. We are pretty damn proud of ourselves. Even when we are the only ones laughing.
There is always the perfect movie or TV line for every situation, that serves as a salve to every hardship we have ever had to encounter. Laughter is our comfort food and our favorite cocktail. Well, more like the perfect garnish to our favorite cocktail.
There are those that know us and understand. There are those that know us and think we are freaks. Jordan and I have never fought, yelled or bickered. Ever. And it is all her. She was born with the temperament of a wise, seasoned traveler. The patience she showed me, Helen Keller-ing my way into new mother hood at 23 was mind-boggling. (It would prove to serve me well with my son.)
Jordan brought out my bravery, honed my confidence and taught me that competitiveness was overrated and would bring nothing but stress and possibly Yellow Jack Fever! (I dramatize. We’re from the south and big fans of Bette Davis’ Jezebel. And Mint Juleps.)
Thank you, Jordan. We really dodged a bullet. If I hadn’t let you lead me, let you show me who YOU were, we could still be posing for pics in matching Laura Ashley dresses. (Oh, c’mon. I only it did it once. Okay, twice! But, that was it!)
This I know for sure, my girl: You KNOW who you are. And, what you are not.
Jordan has not developed an affinity for home and hearth, just yet. She’s a busy young woman making her way in the film biz in Hollywood. So I flew to “SoCal” to bring my special decorating mama magic to her newly rented apartment. Admittedly, she felt that “crack den” was not the look she was going for. She had a mattress on the floor and a large flat screen TV. Priorities.
Here are a few before and after pics. It’s not Architectural Digest, but damn. My girl feels cozy again. She said it feels like home…almost. It’s cozy for “The Ca-li-for-nians”.
I hit every vintage store and antique shop in the Santa Monica area. And, by the way, if you watched the skit above, I DID “have to take Lincoln ALL the way to Washington!” OHMYGAWD!
Next week, I’ll be off to the East Coast to get Joshua set up in his first apartment in Boston. The Boy should be much easier…in theory. But, the talented, creative soul that he is bleeds into all sorts of decorating and style “opinions.” Joshua has taught me a different kind of patience. The kind you use to not be on the local news, behind the yellow tape. Still, I wouldn’t change our relationship for anything, either. We have been through some rough seas but, came out stronger and better humans because of the struggles he has had to face. Again, HIM teaching ME.
We have all read the articles, seen the TV segments that “special” is overused and has paralyzed an entire generation of kids with entitlement issues. But, I feel comfortable with my children being unique to me; they are mine. I wouldn’t trade my road for anything or change one turn, for fear it wouldn’t lead me right to this moment: Jordan starting her adult life in L.A.and Joshua getting back on the college road at Berklee. Nicole, happy and successful with her booming photography business in Austin. Monica, thriving as a new lawyer, at a major firm here in Houston.
It is a parenting, “I can breathe” moment.
We are right where we are supposed to be. They lead me right here. (Exhale.)
Happy “Back to School” to all, from kindergarten to college. This time of year always brings on the same feelings of starting anew, along with letting go. But, as you pack up your kids school supplies or set up their dorm rooms, let them lead you. Let them show your their strengths, their likes, their interests. Let them lead you down the path that feels natural to them. Yes, you are in charge and you are their ultimate guide. But, you will be amazed at what those precious little ones can teach you.
Just like when I turned 30. 40. Reflection is inevitable.
Larkin and I have had more than the lion’s share of teenager-dom. 17 years. 17 years straight of raising crazy, wonderful, lying, beautiful, self-centered, manipulative teenagers. As Jordan aptly replied, “Puh, teenagers…they’re the worst.” Right?!
I see them. My contemporaries. Celebrities and dignitaries my age. Damn, they look good. But, did they have to raise teenagers for 17 straight years?! I am making frown lines on my brow, as I type.
When you hold those babies in the hospital, gently brushing their faces with the scant wisp of your forefinger, you never imagine the teenage years. The time period in which you will become the un-coolest, dumbest, “you don’t understand” version of your parents. Simpletons, really, just trying to manage on the same planet with the mood-changing creatures you created. A creation you honestly question a few times as they change plans, yet again, miss curfew or simply roll their eyes for the umpteenth time.
Tick, tock. The bells toll.
Joshua is 20. He is filled with a wisdom and a deep soul that I have seen before. He is swimming the pools of his father’s waters. I am in awe. Cautiously optimistic, yet still in awe.
Jordan, graduated from Boston University. Moving to L.A. Headed to Hollywood with determination, wit and wisdom, far beyond her years. Strength and grace. She is simply amazing.
Nicole, an entrepreneurial success, just like her dad. A talented, creative photographer in Austin. Making her own magic happen.
Monica, our oldest. Determined, charging her path, claiming her career as a successful Houston lawyer. Never doubted it for a minute.
Together, the four of them, all in their 20’s. (At least for a few month’s anyway.) Each live in a different city, across 3 states. One goes down, the other three rally. They are lucky. We are lucky. And grateful.
I raise my glass to the four of you. We made it. You grew up. You matured and/or are maturing. Each of you, your own pace. I won’t name names.
Thank God you are not the same kids you were from 1996-2013. May those goofy, clueless, lovable souls live on, deep within your hearts. Personally, I hold every one of those stay up all night and worry years, close to my heart…and brow line…and grayed scalp line.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
But, just so you know, there isn’t anything you tried to pull on me that I couldn’t see right through. You had to lie. You had to push the envelope. You thought you knew it all. I know you had to go through it. You had to get to the other side.
I know. I was once a teenager, too. Just ask Nana & Papa.
And, let’s be honest. It was all pretty “Boy Meets World” compared to that of your dad’s teenage years. At least now, we can all marvel at Uncle Josh’s new book, All The Wild Children, and truly appreciate how good we had it.
And, for a moment, bask in the glory that you were NEVER that wild. Blessed be God. Love, Lola
I have not yet read my brother-in-law’s latest book that was just released this week. I have been warned. But, I know my bro’s talent; I expect an excellent read of his “noir memoir”.
Psshaw. You can’t scare me. I’ve raised four of these “wild children”. All with the same last name.
Update: I read the book in one day! I couldn’t put it down. It was like I really knew the characters…oh, wait…that’s right. I married into this cast of characters!
Excellent, poignant, heart wrenching, honest, beautiful….bad words, sex scenes and all. What a triumph for my brother-in-law, Josh Stallings. I am so proud. To my sister-in-law, Erika, your patience continues to astound.
And to All of the Wild Children everywhere, call your parents. They miss you.
What comes with having three 20-something girls, each with their own large circle of girlfriends, is the realization that no news travels faster, spreads wider and cuts like a light saber through general conversation than Guess who is getting married?!
It is 2012 and we all just giggle, gasp and guffaw at nuptial news like women at the “Meryton Assembly Ball” in a Jane Austen novel.
My girls, in particular, have been cursed/blessed with a matriarch that was wedded at the ripe ol’ age of 22. “Ugh,” they all sighed.
It wasn’t planned or arranged. It just happened. Just like they cannot plan or arrange when it will happen for them. (Although their father might just like the opportunity to “arrange” their partners.)
There are plenty of books, advice and well-meaning analysts and bloggers like Penelope Trunk that have written volumes about not only how to find and land your mate, but WHEN you should meet “Mr. Right.” Someone even came out with “rules”. Remember that brouhaha? There is even a book by Tracy McMillan based on her popular two-part essay on The Huffington Post telling you WHY you haven’t found that right person just yet.
Even my mother-in-law, a champion for women’s rights, a celebrated educator and author will most likely ask the girls if they have a boyfriend before she inquires about their job, school or general health.
So much has been written lately about “having it all” with the media swirling around the rise of the new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. She will have the opportunity to balance pregnancy, marriage, motherhood while running a major company, right before our very eyes; her every move, no doubt, covered by every media source from the Wall Street Journal to People magazine. (My guess is that they probably already approached Naomi Watts to play her in the movie. No?)
My Google Reader is not filled with articles in regards to a “cure” for bachelors or advice on landing Mrs. Right. I cannot recall any story about a newly appointed male CEO having to discuss how marriage or fatherhood would affect his job performance.
What is the fascination with women getting married?
I personally feel, the honest truth, is that it will happen, when it happens. And, it is most likely inevitable.
I will conserve my opinions of working women having it all, to focus on young, smart, single women just starting out and say this: There isn’t only one version of “ALL”. That is the beauty of it. Your version of “all” will change and grow as you change and grow. Live your ALL, now. Make the most of “singlehood.”
Don’t live your life in preparation or anticipation for something else. Live your life, today! See the movies you want to see, travel to the destinations you long to go, eat at the cool, new hip restaurants you want to try, sip cocktails at that new swank, bar opening. Go to the symphony, the ballet, the opera. Take that pottery class or that cooking class. Do whatever moves you.
In a very short time you will be in an adult relationship that requires care, concern and compromise. So, while young and single, ditch the compromise and put the care and concern into your life. Full steam ahead on your career. Put in the extra hours. Network around the clock. Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented before you and grab it up with full, unabashed gluttony.
Don’t waste a minute waiting.
Live an interesting, attractive life and you will be interesting and attractive. Live your life like a hot mess and, well, you probably have already met what comes your way.
One of the benefits of aging gracefully with big deep pockets of wisdom…ahem…is that I can sit back and see the bright radiance of young women who are making their own lives work. I can spot them a mile away. It is a confident glow. They are productive, taking exciting challenges and turning them into opportunities for their benefit and well-being. I am so amazed at the endless possibilities that lie ahead for young women.
When I hear of a young woman, taking the reigns of her life and creating her own success, I am compelled to share that story with my own girls. Other girls getting married doesn’t draw the same fascination for me. I will not cut out engagement announcements to show my girls when they visit. (And it’s not because I don’t receive an actual newspaper.)
Don’t get me wrong. I love marriage. I love being married. I love that I found my soul mate at 21. Yes, I believe in soul mates. And, Larkin is definitely mine. However, I also love that my sister Jen, found her love, Tim, at 37. They’ve been married for two years, laughing, traveling and living the life. And, no kids! Talk about living the life!
Walking down the aisle is not an olympic sport. We shouldn’t time our girls or measure for distance.
It will come soon enough.
We will eventually have the added place settings at our holiday table along with the added awkward explaining of our family’s sick, twisted obsession with turning every comment into a movie line. We will declare which “Friends” character the new addition is. We will go from four kids, to eight kids. We will have to show care, concern and compromise.
We have raised our children to believe in love. “Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up, all you need is love…” We believed in soul mates and told them to believe, too. We showed them that your “better half” brings out YOUR better half. We lived the example that marriage to the right person is more fun than two people should be allowed to have.
And, that is what I want for all of my girls. Someday. No stop watch. No timeline. No pressure.
And, I want it for The Boy, too. But, seriously.
“Is anyone ever going to be good enough for HIM?” cried his three sisters, his aunt/godmother, his two grandmothers and his Latina mother.
I am getting settled for another summer on my beloved island. It is always a little bittersweet, because Larkin has to commute every few weeks. We really do hate to be apart. Texas is very far apart. It takes a car, a plane, another car and a ferry to get here. But, as a dear friend once told me, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.”
While here, I will get to spend more time with our two college kids. Jordan is finishing up at BU and can take the ferry over on weekends. The Boy is spending his summer here on MV, searching for a little summer job, a few gigs and a lot of artist peace and quiet.
In between ALL of those loads of laundry (!), he and I have had some long talks about peace, comfort with who your are and being comfortable in your own skin. Why is it so easy for some, while others have to really fight for a place at the table of calm?
Do you find yourself searching for peace?
If so, then please stop. Just stop. You cannot go out and search for it. Be still. Let it be. Allow peace to come into your life. It is there waiting patiently and quietly…after all, it is peace!
I believe some people do not see themselves worthy or deserving, so they fool themselves into searches for causes or purpose or bliss, whatever the current blog buzz word happens to be. It is like busy work, tricking yourself into believing that the search is the hard work. If you’re out looking for it, you are missing it altogether.
The hard work is being still. Accepting what is. And, simply, let it be. No shame. No judgement. This is life. As Katharine Hepburn put it, “Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”
We’ve always known that life is ups and downs, ebbs and flows. So, why can we get so thrown?
Conquering unhappiness, depression, addiction, insecurity, health issues, divorce, unemployment, financial fiasco, anxiety, obesity, self-harm, loneliness or even general malaise; they all share a starting point, a first step towards the light. It begins with peaceful acceptance. “It is what it is.” (Larkin’s favorite.)
Now, you are ready.
Facing the issue, steadying yourself to be open to the calm, will bring you to a state of peace; an unshakeable force to handle stressful times at work, school, parenting, dealing with difficult people, bosses, bullies, relatives or even teenagers. You will be armed to fight off any mental, emotional or physical issue.
Peace is your superpower. Set your buttons to your default, locked on peace. Then, nobody can push those buttons, “not even the people who installed them”, one of my favorite Larkin-isms. (Can you tell I miss him?) Your own thoughts are the most challenging enemy to your peace because they live on site. Your thoughts and your peace are roommates. But, you can give those thoughts strength or you can render them powerless.
It is all you.
Peace is not a geography problem. Although, I highly recommend the Vineyard for some serious down time and relaxation. “It’s so choice.” (Quick! Name the movie before you get to the end of the post.)
I am thankful everyday for our home here. Even more so, that Joshua is finding his own calm here, too. But, being 19 and an artist, it is going to be just like his keys or his wallet. He has to remember to take his peace, wherever he goes.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Got to love a blog that quotes Emerson and Ferris Bueller.
From the moment my daughter Jordan walked into my room in pain, I was “on”. That is what moms do, it’s one of our strengths. I don’t turn into a panicky mom. I use humor and laughter to get through. We dressed in minutes, made it to the car and laughed all the way to the 24 hour ER clinic, in between breathing through sharp stomach pains, of course.
It was odd for me to have the admitting and attending nurses address all questions to my daughter, not me. She is 21, now. An adult. She was amazing to watch as she described her condition over and over to the various health professionals. After an hour and a CAT scan, it was determined she needed to have surgery…quickly. Now, the phone calls.
I am a Latina. From a long line of strong, Tejana women. Once the phone calls start, widespread prayers, candles and vigils spring into action. I am the ONE who has to keep it together. I don’t fall apart. There are others who will, but not me. Because I am a Mom, I am the rock. I am the comic relief. My husband and I opted to drive our girl to the hospital ourselves. My parents and my sister met us there. (Mexicans do not wait alone in waiting rooms.) The Boy, our son Joshua, waited with friends. My oldest stepdaughter joined us, as well. Everyone was concerned, but understood it was a routine surgery but, still…it IS surgery, as my mother reminded me.
Jordan and I had a few good laughs in pre-op, before they wheeled her away. Our “thing” is quoting movie/TV lines. We did lines from “Arthur”, “Friends” and to keep it a little dark, “Steel Magnolias”…”Open your eyes, Shelby…open, open open your eyes”.) I’m sure some people think we can be inappropriate at times, but humor has ALWAYS been our default mode.
In the waiting room, my husband was way more unnerved than I expected. She is Daddy’s girl, alright. I had to keep him up. My parents, who have been through their medical nightmare this past year with Dad’s heart attack and surgery, were worried. My sister, the awesome “cool aunt”, was helpful and attentive to my parents, so I could concentrate on my husband. Separately, in the waiting room, there was a young woman, who upon receiving good news from a doctor in regards to her mother’s liver transplant, wept alone. She was not a Mexican. I quietly went and sat next to her and rubbed her back for support, because I am a Mom.
Thankfully, everything went well and, because I’m a Mom, I spent the night with my 21 year old girl. We had nurses and doctors check on her every two hours, through the night. I was hoping someone would check on the hospital AC…it was freezing. Nothing like a hospital sleepover to A) help you appreciate your health, B) help you appreciate the comforts of your own home, C) help you catch a horrible cold.
My husband and The Boy were at the hospital by 7am the next morning. After 30 minutes of “The Today Show”, Joshua was hungry, so as the Mom, I insisted they go to the amazing cafeteria and have breakfast, where he thoroughly enjoyed biscuits and gravy and a plate of sushi…18 year boys! When they returned, it took about another 30 minutes before they were trying to get comfortable in the small room for a nap. So, as the Mom, I insisted they go back home, as we were hoping to be discharged by noon, anyway. Then, as the Mom, I cleaned and organized the room, got Jordan dressed, washed her hair, packed our belongings, watered her flowers, left notes for the fabulous staff and we were ready and discharged by 11am. I was already on my 3rd giant Starbucks of the morning.
We loaded her in the wheelchair/cart and we were off for home…to REST. We waited in the valet line with the other discharged patients (I know, Methodist Hospital in Houston is amazing). We took pictures, sent texts; and laughed to pass the short wait. Then, the 4 valet attendants appeared.
I went to push her chair, but the first valet politely swatted me away while he wheeled her towards the car and gently helped her in the seat. I turned to open the hatch of my Prius, but another valet beat me to it and wouldn’t let me help. I turned to start unloading the cart of our belongings and another valet insisted he had it covered. In utter confusion, I started towards the driver’s seat. I was face to face with the fourth valet. He took the Starbucks from my hand and the purse from my shoulder, placed them both in the car, turned, put his hand on my arm and said to me, “Mama, all you have to do is take her home and rest. We have this.”
I tipped and thanked them profusely, I got in the car and quietly drove off…it IS a Prius. And, because I’m a Mom, I finally had my cry.
Your college freshman is home! You are so proud. Hell, he graduated from high school and got into college, all in this past year. Wow!
However, the first winter break for college Freshman is a very long, exhausting break. And, not just for the parents. These kids come home and try and reconnect with every friend they’ve had since middle school, cram in visits with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all while trying to catch up on their coveted sleep. You can try and set up dentist and doctor appointments, but don’t have your heart set on it. And, parents, get ready to roll out all of the old mantras all over again. “Don’t drink. Call me if you do. Don’t do drugs. We will come get you whatever time. Remember what happened to___________” (insert your local tragic teen story here…sadly, there are too many.)
It seems that many of these newbie young adults revert right back to that high school mentality of living in the moment and throwing consequence to the wind. Life is a party! Even worse, they don’t have jobs or school responsibilities to keep them on any kind of schedule. Over the long break, the college-ness begins to wear off. I keep wondering, where is that college kid we saw at Parents Weekend back in October? The one that knew his way around Boston, walked confidently through the school, actually woke up and met us for brunch? Will he be showing up again soon? Or does he only reside in Boston?
It has come up more than once, these past few weeks, the idea of which childhood relationships are real and which are just being kept alive through the magic and wonder of Facebook. Just because a “friend” posts a party on FB doesn’t mean everyone has to show up. The fact that we were having these discussion made me feel that these savvy kids know the difference. Every evening, I watch our kids’ beautiful faces illuminate with that bluish hue of their iPhone screens, as they scroll all of the possibilities for the night. Then, in a very non committal tone, The Boy: Well, ‘so and so’ is going to ‘so and where’ and there’s a bunch of people going, so I might meet up with them. Me: Oh? I don’t remember ‘so and so’. The Boy: Mom, remember? Sophomore year. That guy.
That guy. Oh, sure. THAT guy. Wow! With these communication skills, we are almost right back in high school. I will give credit by saying “almost”. He actually used words, not monosyllabic grunts. I have always tried to parent our teens with my memory of being a teen close at hand. I never wanted to condemn their friends, their choice of dates or any of their ideas. (Except for piercings and tattoos. 2 out of 4 heard me.) I remember what it felt like when my parents didn’t understand.”Oh, my God! You, like, have no idea of what MY life is like! You are so lame! I’m, like, so embarrassed for you.” (yeah, yeah… I grew up in the 80’s, whatever.)
So, I do remember being home on Friday nights, thinking I might be missing a party where the cute boy I liked might be. But with FB, you KNOW you are missing the party and you can actually see pictures of the cute boy you like, when you are reading it on Facebook…at home…on a Friday night…like some loser!
I get it, really I do. I guess I just want my super amazing parenting skills to wash over The Boy and have him mature now. I keep thinking I will have this deep conversation with him and he will have that Oprah “Aha Moment”. Everything that I am trying to protect him from: mistakes from poor decisions, speeding tickets, hangovers from cheap beer…they are exactly the experiences he needs to learn, to grow and to finally mature.
This morning, early for a Sunday, I picked him up at a friends house where he had “crashed” for the night. He got in the car and said “Mom, thank you so much for picking me up. I really appreciate it. I’m sorry it is so early.” We got home, made breakfast and then he asked his dad if he wanted to watch a movie with him.