The Best People I Know

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I have been one lucky woman this past week.  I spent time with each of my kids.  Spending time with my kids was once something I took for granted.  I am their mom.  They woke me up in the morning, and they were by my side all day long.  I remember craving time for myself during those years.  Mommy sometimes took a 15 minute break when the kids were little.  I would sit quietly in the living room for a few peaceful moments and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids peeked around the doorway wondering why I wanted peace or quiet.  How could that be fun?

Where did that time go?  Where are those little blonde, big-eyed children who always had hundreds of  questions?  I can close my eyes and see the faces of those little children  so clearly.  Now they, except for Lola, are all grown up.  Their lives are busy.  My life has changed, too, since those days of sunshine, swings, and the sandbox.  While I miss those days, there is something equally exciting in seeing them become adults.  Their choices are their own.  Of course, as parents we try to help and guide them, but now it is up to them to fulfill their own destinies and make their own decisions.  It is rewarding to see them become such fine adults.

Luke was home from Marquette for three days.  T and I drove to pick up  Luke and Shannon from the train station late on Wednesday evening.  It had been a long week for them of mid-term exams followed by a day of travel.  They were travelling home together for the first time.  I felt such joy to see them stepping down from the train.  They have such deep love and friendship between them.  Beneath all of that is a steady mutual respect.  I love seeing my son become a good, kind, considerate man who treats his girlfriend with admiration and support.  I savored those moments as the four of us drove home on the winding country roads.  I felt so safe and secure to be snug in the car with people I loved so much as we drove through the dark.  The girls were waiting for their brother when we made it home.  There was laughter and LOUD once again in our house as we all welcomed Luke back home.

I enjoyed having my grown up son home for a few days.  I had missed his sense of humor.  I had missed his banter with his sisters.  There was a sense of celebration for those days when our son was back home.  He took Lola to the corn maze and the pumpkin patch.  We celebrated with extended family.  We shopped with him for a few things he needed to take back to school.  We had a final night as a family at our favorite pizza place.  That last night, Luke and I sat up late together in the living room and watched Netflix.  I don’t even know the name of the show.  It was about aliens.  It was stupid, really bad, but that didn’t matter.  I loved being snuggled on the couch under a blanket.  I loved sitting up late, sipping a Pepsi, and munching on popcorn with my son.

Luke headed back to Milwaukee early on Saturday morning, and I headed to Chicago to see Andrew.  Andy needed a few cold weather things from home.  He had tickets to a movie screening on Saturday night and wanted company.  I was happy to bring him the things he needed and to have a chance to hang out in the city with my son.

I was apprehensive about seeing him.  I hoped that he was adjusting well to this move.  I had been concerned after his recent visit home.  He seemed to be homesick at the time, but I had not mentioned it to him.  My oldest son, this young man who has faced more challenges in his young life than most people will face during a lifetime, oh….how I worry about him.  I want his life to fit.  I want him to feel self-confidence.  I want him to succeed.  As I rode along on my way to Chicago, I wondered what I would find.  A mom “knows.”  I would know the moment I saw his face if he was doing as well as his phone calls would lead me to believe.

I was thrilled the moment I saw him come around the corner.  His eyes sparkled.  He looked GREAT!  OK, other than the facial hair and the fact that he needed a haircut!  🙂  He was happy.  He was actually happy!  He had so much to tell me.  He told me about a girl he had met.  She’s a teacher specializing in ADD.  We laughed.  Where had she been all of his life?   He talked about school.  He laughed about cleaning his apartment furiously the night before.  He had graded papers from school strategically placed on the kitchen counter.  He is doing fabulously!  The very best part of all, though, was the huge squeeze he gave me and the genuine smile on his face.

We had a wonderful day and night.  We took the train around the city.  We walked for miles and miles.  We shared wonderful food.  We tried new beers. We went to the zoo.   He took me to his favorite neighborhood hang-outs, and it was so good to see people call him by name.  It was good to see that he is making a life for himself.  The visit was short, but it was perfect.  I am so happy for him and so darn proud!

Back home now, and while I love the city and have developed such a soft spot for Chicago, I am experiencing a new-found appreciation for my quiet country home.  I’m beginning to see this wonderful place where I live as the best kept secret in the world.  It’s safe and calm, beautiful and peaceful.  I’m happy to be here….right here.

Tonight the girls and I were happily catching up and enjoying the whole “Girls Rule” feeling in the house again.  As much as T pretends to be horrified to be the only male in the household, I know he secretly loves being surrounded by the female members of the family.  He often looks baffled as the conversations swirl around him, but I can see his enjoyment as he witnesses his daughters becoming young women.  Lola was happily chatting about her Halloween costume choices, and Emily was telling me about her fantastic weekend.  Em’s boyfriend had been home from college, too.  They had a great time together, and she was sharing every detail.  She seems to be shocked that he “really likes her.”

Later, the girls and I were all in the bathroom painting our toenails while T was watching football.  We were still being silly, talking, and enjoying our time together.  Em told me that she had bought some Nair over the weekend, but hadn’t tried it out yet.  I laughed.  The last time she tried Nair on her legs, she freaked out in the shower.  She accidentally touched her head and was afraid that she was going to end up bald.  We laughed as we remembered that day.  She had screamed bloody murder in the shower, and I had come running.  I had to scrub off her legs for her while she protected her head hair.  Knowing that her last Nair experience had been traumatic, I asked her why she would even want to try it again. “Oh, you know me, Mom.  I make the same mistakes over and over before I finally learn.”  Ha!  I laughed.  Like mother, like daughter!  I certainly hope she learns to stop doing that much earlier in her life than her mother did.

Confused

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I have been working on a blog post off and on all weekend.  I’ll write a little bit, quit, come back again later, and write a little bit more.  I feel like I should write about moving Andy to Chicago.  It was a significant event in all of our lives.  I have written out the facts and many of the emotions, but I can’t seem to bring it to any kind of conclusion.  It feels like I am writing a report for school.  “What It Felt Like To Move My Son Away From Home.”  Bleh.  It didn’t feel good.  Sure, I am happy for him.  Yes, it was a hassle.  Yes, it was emotional, but it probably wasn’t any different or more significant than anyone else’s experiences.  It was LIFE.  It was simply another step into the next stage of all of our lives.  The details aren’t what is important.  The fact that the apartment was a mess doesn’t matter.  It’s clean now.  The fact that it was hotter than hell on moving day doesn’t matter.  It’s cool now.  I’m wearing a sweatshirt.  What we had for dinner doesn’t matter.  Where we stayed while in Chicago is insignificant.  Those are the details that don’t matter in the long run.  They are soon forgotten.

What matters is now and what is to come.  What matters is the void that is left by the absence of my sons.   What matters is that they are happy and adjust well to what lies ahead for them.  I hope they are adjusting better than their mother.  I’m sure they are.

Four days.  We have had four days at home since Andrew moved.  I am already sad in so many ways.  I am shocked by the disruption in my own routine.  I had thought to feel a sense of freedom and relief.  Instead, I am feeling sad and lonely.  I had hoped that T and I would look at each other with smiles on our faces and think of all the thing we could do together now.

Andrew and I had a routine of watching TV together before we went to bed.  We would pick out something on Netflix and watch together.  T would always be in the room, but he usually fell asleep within minutes of sitting down.  I would sit on the couch with my laptop.  I would usually be writing, working, or messing around on Facebook while we watched.  Andrew would be across the room in the red chair.  (It’s not even red, but for some reason everyone in the family calls it the “red chair.”)  T would sit in the green chair.  (It is green.)  Now the red chair is empty.

The first night after moving Andrew, we ended up in our same places and turned on the TV.  It was just T and I now.  As we watched TV, something made me laugh.  I looked up to smile at Andy, but he wasn’t there.  I looked over to share it with T.  Ugh….  What did I see?  T sitting with his head thrown back, mouth hanging open, and sound asleep.  My God.  For over twenty years, I have looked at that!  My heart just dropped.  Now there was no one.  The boys are gone.  The girls were in bed.  It was just T and I, which essentially means that I will sit alone in a room, or I can choose to sit in a room where he is sleeping.  I know this routine.  I know it all too well.  I hate it.

I am tired.  I am so tired of being the only one who tries.  I am tired of trying to be entertaining so that he will stay awake.  On Saturday afternoon, I caught him sleeping on the floor of the boys’ old room.  He was supposedly in there cleaning, when Em came to get me.  “Dad is laying on the floor and not moving.  Would you please go check on him.  I’m afraid.”  I was, too!  That sounded really strange, so I rushed upstairs to see if he was OK.  Yep.  Sleeping on the floor.

On Saturday night, I watched a History Channel documentary while he slept in the chair.  He’s the one who turned it on.  I wasn’t at all interested in it, but I thought if he made the choice, then maybe he would stay awake.  He was out in less than 10 minutes.

Tonight Em asked me to watch a movie with her.  We sat down and watched about half of it (T slept across the room) until her boyfriend called.  He left yesterday for college in Wisconsin.  Seems all the young men in our lives are gone!  Emily was excited to hear about his day, so she went up to her room to take her phone call.  She asked me to pause the movie so that we could watch the rest tomorrow.

There I sat.  T was asleep, and I was wondering what to do.  It was too early to go to bed.  I’m a night owl.  I wasn’t even tired.  There was no one to talk to.  I just sat there thinking, “This is it??  Is this really it?  Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?”

I know.  It has only been four days, but I am having some really bad memories return.  I remember years and years of this.  When the kids were all little, my day was lonely after they all went to bed for the night.  T may have been there, but he was inattentive and uninterested much like he is now.  His daily after work routine consists of dinner, slot machines on Facebook, sit in the green chair, fall asleep.

To be honest, I am shocked.  I didn’t think this was going to happen.  I hadn’t given it an ounce of thought.  Maybe it would be easier to understand this if I had anticipated it.  I thought this was going to be a good push in the right direction for T and I.  Instead, it seems like we were working well together in the interest of organizing and moving the boys, and now our partnership is over.

Today, I tried to have a good attitude.  I tried to be good.  I cleaned.  I organized things.  I shampooed the area rugs.  I went shopping and bought a roast and fresh vegetables.  I stood in the kitchen and cooked for hours.  A roast, carrots, potatoes (two kinds,) fried apples, fresh rolls, fabulous homemade gravy.  It took hours to cook, about 15 minutes to eat, and an hour to clean up the mess in the kitchen.  At least there will be leftovers for dinner tomorrow night.

Of course, I have talked to T about these issues.  There is no problem.  He is happy.  “What??   What’s so bad about sitting down to relax at the end of the day?  I’m tired.”  End of  story.

Tomorrow I will be heading back to work, and I’m looking forward to it.  Our next few weekends will be full, and I have a business trip to Charlotte later in the month that I’m excited about.  I’m not sure if I am ready to putter around all day and then watch my husband sleep in a chair all night.  I’m not ready to be an “old married couple.”  Life is too precious and too short to spend feeling sad and lonely.

All evening, I have been wracking my brain.  What can I do to change this?  Four days, and I am feeling like a caged animal.  Do I go back to playing in the band?  Do I take another class?  Maybe I’ll practice playing jazz piano.  Maybe I’ll dig out the clarinet or the sax and get back up to speed.  Maybe learn to play trombone?  Maybe I’ll do some serious writing.  I would have to set up an office.  Maybe I’ll repaint all the rooms in the house.  Maybe I’ll set up the loom and weave rugs again.  I have too much energy to spend evening after evening like this.  It seems that I have come full circle again.  All of the things I can think of doing, I will have to do alone.  Music, a class, home decor, all alone.  I am once again looking at things and ways to fill that void.

Sad, and yes…feeling sorry for myself.  Why is this so hard?  It seems like all I really want is someone there to care.  At the end of the day, I just want a friend.  They don’t have to be exciting, just awake.  They don’t have to entertain me, but just share a smile.