Without fail, whenever all four kids are home, we have a few Hallmark moments. It’s wonderful to see them come together now as adults, to see that they have missed each other, and to listen to their conversations. On the other hand, things eventually disintegrate, and the siblings revert back to competitive children vying for attention. Those Hallmark moments often turn into something you might see on the Jerry Springer show. It is exhausting to keep a lid on things and to monitor the situation.
Last week was no exception to the rule. Within moments of our first meal together with all six of us, I had to stand up at the dinner table. The boys were tag-teaming their little sister. It got louder and louder, and in my opinion, crossed the line of disrespect. I stood up and reminded them that this is Mom and Dad’s house. Meals are to be times for nourishment and good conversation, not a time to revert back to middle school behavior. My grown sons looked at me while I was ranting with huge smiles on their faces. “OK, Mom.” The very fact that they had gotten such a reaction out of me seemed to please both of them. Were they reliving memories from their childhood days of driving their mother nuts every night at dinnertime?
We all had a great time at our family party last weekend, but T and I have agreed that it was the last time such an event will take place at our house. Partying (and drinking) with our kids isn’t something either of us has any desire to repeat. We let it all hang out last weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that I was right in there with them, and it was a blast to drop all my propriety for a night. Dancing with my kids, family, and friends all around the patio is a memory that will bring me smiles for the rest of my life. It was priceless and joyful. Other memories from that night aren’t so great. I don’t want to see my boys get Frat-party drunk ever again. It was disconcerting to say the least.
We very nearly had a full-blown, Jerry Springer, trailer trash moment last Saturday night. At some point, Andrew changed our musical selection to something that made T less than happy. I can’t say that I disagreed with T, it seemed to me that we should be able to find something we could all enjoy and was less offensive. I asked Andrew to change the music, and he responded like a spoiled child. In turn, I became the mother of a spoiled child. Andrew and I faced off. Two fiery tempers collided, and “my house; my rules” won.
Luke stood nearby watching as Andrew and I clashed. He quickly intervened and called his brother an asshole. He put his arm around me, and said, “Do you want me to take care of this jerk, Mom?” UGH! I spun on my heel and headed inside for a moment to cool off. The entire incident lasted all of about two minutes. I was filled with shame at the action of my sons. My face burned as I wondered where in the world I had gone wrong as a mother.
When I went back outside, the boys eyes followed me to my seat. I sat in silence for a few moments wondering how the rest of the night was going to go. Should I make a motion to break up the party? It was still early, and I didn’t want to upset those who had no idea what had happened. On the other hand, I was concerned that things might go further downhill. I was lost in thought when Andrew came over to my chair and wrapped his arms around me. “I’m sorry for being a jerk, Mom.” Luke was up and out of his seat, too. I was literally squished in the middle of a group hug from my adult sons. The incident hadn’t lasted long. There was no further strife, yet I felt an underlying sense of uneasiness. I had half an eye on the boys. I worried even as I enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Sunday evening, I talked to T about it, and he agreed that Andrew had a lot of growing up to do. He’s the oldest. He has been through so much in his young life. He faces daily challenges from the results of his head injury. What he personally goes through remains a mystery to me. His cognitive tests are within the normal range, but that’s not unusual for a frontal lobe injury. To look at him, you would never know. I know, though. I am his mother. Things are not as easy for him. His emotions are more difficult to control, and I know that fact doesn’t make him proud. He is still finding his way, and I worry about him daily.
Andrew called me on Monday night. He’s back in Chicago now. He told me about his day, and then he became more serious. “Mom, I’ve been thinking about going back to church. How do you feel about that?” I was surprised to hear those words. He went on to explain that he was ashamed by his actions on Saturday night. He said that he felt like he had bad karma, and he needed to get back on the right track. I told him that I thought church would be a great place to start.
Andrew and I talked for a long time. He explained that he was tired of feeling so negative. He was tired of feeling LESS than everyone around him. I understood. Do I ever! I told him that I was proud of him and that the first steps toward a change was acknowledging the problem. I am proud of him. Growing up isn’t an easy thing for some people. Finding our own way, and realizing that we are all responsible for our own actions and our own happiness, is something that takes some of us an entire lifetime to learn.
Today T and I had lunch together. As we often do, we catch each other up on things with the kids. I told him about my conversation the previous evening with Andrew. T looked at me with a very serious look on his face and said, “Tell me a little bit about this ‘karma’ thing. What in the hell does that mean?”
“To put it simply,” I said, “What goes around, comes around.” I told him that Andrew felt like his negative behavior was causing negative things to occur in his life. Bad karma was hanging over him like a cloud. The expression on T’s face was priceless. 🙂 He said, “Really? Seriously? You guys feel these things?” I laughed and said, “Yes, we do.” He shook his head and said that he had never felt anything like that in his entire life. I wasn’t surprised. T is as straight as an arrow. His behavior is measured and careful. He doesn’t ever just react to situations without first running his actions through some kind of “logic filter” that I don’t seem to have. Oh, how very different T and I are. I admire him for attempting to embrace things that he doesn’t even understand.
Andrew and I talked for a long time again tonight. I’m proud of my son, and I told him that. It’s no easy thing to find our way in this world. I’m proud of him for having the a sense of responsibility for his own actions, and I am proud that he has the ability to recognize the role he plays in his own life and in finding his own happiness.