Milwaukee. It’s been a very busy few days since my last post. One son is packed off to school. It was a good trip, a good day. Luke was so darn happy to be back at school and to see his roommates again. They are such a great group of boys. Ah, but they couldn’t wait to get rid of the parents! Just watching them made me happy for the future of this world. Youth, dreams, ambition, kindness, laughter. It is such a good feeling to see my son in a place that fits him well and with people that he so obviously likes. This year there is something new at Marquette for Luke. His girlfriend is a student there this year as well. She’s in the same dorm two floors down. I wonder how he feels about this. I wonder how they will handle it. Luke enjoyed a year of freedom on campus. It will certainly be a period of adjustment for them both, and I am staying OUT OF IT. We enjoyed the afternoon in Milwaukee. The bustle of the campus was exhilarating. It was impossible not to get caught up in the spirit of the day. We enjoyed a lunch with Luke and his girlfriend before heading out on our trip to Chicago.
T and I in Chicago. How long had it been since he and I were anywhere alone and together? Surprisingly, (even to me!) I have decided not to share very much about our night and day alone. I’m not sure why I don’t feel the need or desire to write about it in detail. Maybe the details aren’t really clear in my own mind yet. I will say this, though. There was nothing at all wrong with our time alone. It was full of friendship, gentleness, conversation, and caring. I felt SAFE and cared for, which is something I have not felt in a very long time.
Brush with Fame. T and I were heading towards Michigan Avenue and to the beautiful little park/garden where I have spent many hours crying. Moments earlier, I had decided to stop into a deli and buy a lobster salad sandwich. (This detour is an important detail!) It was delicious, luscious lobster on a croissant, and I was munching big mouthfuls of pleasure as we walked along. We stood waiting for the light to change so that we could cross. As we stood waiting, a guy was working the crowd trying to get money. He had a good spiel. Either give him a dollar or according to him, you would be required to skip across the street. Mostly, everyone was ignoring him. When the light changed, he led the way skipping across the street. One guy, the guy next to me, started skipping along behind him. It made me smile. It was a little round short guy. His wife was laughing by his side. Something was strangely familiar about them. It was Danny DeVito with his wife, Rhea Perlman. Seriously!! I grabbed T by the back of the shirt and gestured wildly. I think for a moment he thought I was choking on the lobster salad. T wasn’t certain, so he followed them right into the art museum. I sat there under one of my favorite lions waiting for him to come back outside. He was grinning from ear to ear. It really, really was them. If I hadn’t stopped for my lobster salad, we would never have had our brush with fame. Ah….good follows good!
And My Mother. I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Luke’s dorm next to a huge pile of stuff. T had gone to park the car. Luke had gone to find a wheeled cart. I was alone when my phone rang. It was the hospital. My mom had been admitted. It was the same, continuing problem. She was stable and resting comfortably. I stood there for a moment and weighed it all out. What should I do? What was required of me? It didn’t take long. Today I was a mother before I was a daughter. Today my job was to be there for my son, not to be running back to the side of my mother. The nurse had said she was fine. There was nothing I could do. There was no imminent danger. Should we skip the trip to Chicago? Should I rush back home to see my mom and “do the right thing?” No, this time with T was important, too. We had both been looking forward to relaxing for a day. We needed a break from the stress of our lives. Rushing back to my mother’s side would only add a little bit more stress and accomplish nothing at all. The next morning, I received another call from the hospital. I was immediately scared. I feared the worst. What if she had died while I was out having a night on the town?? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. She had a nurse call me to make sure that I knew she was in the hospital. She had thought I would come rushing back home. I asked the nurse if I was needed. “Oh, no!! She is doing fine. She just needed to be rehydrated. She’ll be out in a day or so.”
As T and I drove home, I gave my mother a call. I wondered if I should call her cell phone or try to find the number for the hospital. I didn’t think she must have her cell phone with her. Otherwise, why was she having hospital staff call me? T said to give her cell a try, “You know how your mother is. She will have wanted to get maximum mileage out of this.” So I called her cell, and guess what? She answered it!! She DID have her cell phone with her! I was shocked. She was doing fine, and I told her that we would be there to visit on Sunday. She was upset that we hadn’t cut our trip short since she was in the hospital. I remained calm and cheerful. I told her that I had considered coming back, but the hospital had assured me that she was in good hands. There was no need. There was nothing I could do.
Today, with a half-million things that I needed to do, I went to visit my mother. I stopped and bought a card and a plant before heading over to the hospital. She was doing fine. She’ll be released in a day or two. Andrew and T went along with me. We had so many errands to run on this one day off before we move Andrew to Chicago. We had to buy bedding, household supplies, and groceries. After leaving the hospital, we started shopping and checking things off of our long list. We were in the first store for about ten minutes when my phone rang. It was my mother. “You need to come back. I need you to run over to my apartment. I need you to pick up a few things for me.”
I was in shock. We had just been there. Why hadn’t she told me while I had been there? Her apartment building is attached by a corridor to the hospital! We could have walked over there in less than five minutes. Now we were a twenty minute drive away. What did she need? Instead of continuing my complaints I’ll just say that she needed nothing important. Once again, I was firm. I told her that I couldn’t come back today. We had too many things to do. I reminded her that Andrew was moving in four days. T and I have to work all week. We had to accomplish what we could today. I told her that I would try to make time to stop by tomorrow during my lunch hour. Ugh….
Changes and Discoveries. What I am beginning to discover is that I am pretty easy to jerk around. I give too much. I forgive too easily. Too many people want too many things from me. When I don’t do things exactly the way those around me expect, then people are mad at me. I feel like a pawn in too many lives. The girls were mad because their father and I spent the night in Chicago and didn’t take them along (even though we left money for pizza and they had a fun night.) Andrew was mad that I was cleaning last night, because he wanted to watch something on TV with me. As soon as we walked in the door from our mini-trip, I went about unpacking, cleaning, and doing laundry. T played slots online.
I could feel the cloak of stress fall all around me within the first hour of being home. I called T upstairs and tried to explain it to him. I told him all that I was feeling, and I asked him, “Who takes care of me? Who really cares about me?” It seems like everyone around me wants something from me. They want me to take care of them. They want me to make them feel good. Most of the time, I feel inadequate. There are too many of them, and only one of me. I come up short every time. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I give, no matter what I do, it is never enough. No one is ever satisfied, and most of all, I am drowning in all of it. I am sinking quickly.
Maybe he gets it. Maybe not. We’ll see…