She forgot me.

When MonoBoy was in the 6th grade, he played basketball for his middle school and their games were played on Saturdays.  I was very much divorced by then, but I still maintained a relationship with my in-laws and on this particular Saturday, my ex-MIL and her husband were going to ride with me to the gym for the game.  LoverBoy was playing at a friend’s down the street, so I called the house and asked that they send him home.  Then we loaded up into the Suburban and headed on our way.

Without LoverBoy.  Who apparently chased the Suburban a little ways down the street before turning back and sitting in the wicker chair on our front porch, since our front door was appropriately locked.

His absence went unnoticed until we got to the gym and piled out of the car.  “WHAT KIND OF MOTHER LEAVES THEIR CHILD BEHIND?” was all that I could think as I flew back to the house.

Well, folks, let’s just say that I come by that trait honestly and you are never too old for your mother to forget you.

Yesterday was hectic as most of my days are.  I had my very first (and hopefully last) root canal scheduled for right after lunch.  The weather was terrible and I was a little bit nervous about my mom driving around and picking up my sister’s kids, so before the rain hit, I suggested to my mother that she go ahead retrieve my niece from day care now.  You know, to avoid the rain that was expected at 1:00 when she normally picks her up.  She agreed and off she went.

I was planning to take my sister to the Houston Rodeo/Pitbull Concert yesterday evening and knew that I had to leave to pick her up straight from the dentist office, so I jumped in the shower to get ready for the root canal and road trip.  On my way to the dentist at 1:00, my phone rang from a number I didn’t recognize.  Turned out that it was my mom calling from the day care phone because why on earth would she want to carry around the cell phone that I pay for her to have each month?

Instead of picking up my niece at 11:45 as planned, she sat in the parking lot and waited until school got out at 1:00 to actually go in and get her from class.  Please don’t ask me to explain her logic here.  I’m at a loss.  Did she think it would change the rain situation if she waited for it in the parking lot as opposed to waiting in the house?  I don’t know.

She swears that she turned her car off while she waited, but her dead battery indicated otherwise, so I took a detour from the dentist to the day care to pick them both up.  By this time, I was going to be late to the appointment if I drove them home and dropped them off, so instead, I told her to drop me off at the dentist and take my car home.  We decided that she would pick me up at 3:30 on her way to pick up my nephew from school.  Because maybe the rain will stop at that point, right?

In the meantime, I texted my brother-in-law and LoverBoy and asked if they would go and jumpstart the car and leave it at my house so that I could address the battery issue the following day.

I finished the procedure around 3:20 and tried calling my mom to make sure that she remembered the plan.  There was no answer, so I assumed that she was on her way, leaving behind her cellphone, as was the norm.

Around 3:45, my brother-in-law texted and asked if my procedure was finished.  I said that it was and I was just waiting for my mommy to pick me up.  I joked that she must have gone to pick up my nephew first, since she was late.  He replied, “What’s the address?  I will come get you.”  When he arrived, we headed to the day care to go ahead and jumpstart the car.  On the way, he explained that when he stopped by his house to pick up jumper cables, there was my mom and both of the kids.  My car just sitting in the driveway.  He asked her where I was.

“She’s on her way to Houston.”

Apparently, she left the dentist office, picked up my nephew early (in the rain), took the kids home to their house, and promptly forgot all about me.  And then forgot that she forgot all about me because when we got back to the house with the car, she said, “What are you doing here?”

Me:  “You forgot to pick me up at the dentist at 3:30.”

Mom:  “I don’t remember anyone telling me to pick you up.”

Obviously.

The next Justin Bieber

There has been some peace in my house with the boys this week.  Somebody, quickly knock on some wood for me before I jinx it!!!!  There was only one little freak out by LoverBoy because he’s going to get a B in AP-Biology and what if that drops his ranking and A&M rescinds his offer.

“Seriously?  I failed Calculus the last six weeks of my senior year, and they still let me attend.  I think you’re okay.”

Obviously I attended back in the Stone Ages, so my comforting words were of no help to him.  He continued to poll everyone and their brother and searched every inch of the A&M website for any hint on what it takes to have your offer taken away.  Let’s just not murder anyone and try to graduate, shall we?  Sounds like a good plan to me.  The first part is probably way more difficult for me than him on a daily basis anyway.

He started working part-time at the entertainment facility that I work at.  I made sure that he was in a department completely unrelated to any of mine.  He barely wants to see me at home.  Imagine if he actually had to see me at work.  I held my breath after his first shift, worried that he would hate it and it would be just one more thing in life to blame me for.  Turns out that he loved it.  Thinks that the guys he works with are the coolest.  Whew!

MonoBoy found out his class ranking and got a little dose of reality.  He was acting funny and distant and finally I couldn’t take it anymore and begged him to tell me what was wrong.  Like actually begged.  I’m not proud, but it worked.  He said, “I want to tell you, but I know that it’s going to disappoint you and I don’t want to do that.”  What he doesn’t know is that I already knew his class rank.  Hello, haven’t you noticed my hovering your entire life?  How could you actually think I hadn’t requested a transcript from the counselor at the end of the school year?  C’mon, let’s be real.

The good thing is that I had all summer to fret and worry about it, and I’m finally in my place of acceptance of it.  Well, sort of.  With all of the summer events, I still ride the fence on how much parenting is too much parenting with this kid.  I mean, I would hound him about his grades every day, but there is a part of me that fears his running away again.  That’s actually what started the conversation.  I told him that I needed to be honest with him and that I can’t really handle the current status quo.  He has the right to go to his dad’s house whenever he wants, but he still needs to show common courtesy and let me know.  I can’t wonder if or when he is coming home.  Also, I’m still his parent, no matter where he lays his head and he has to respond to my texts, even if they are about grades and he doesn’t want to.  I explained that I didn’t want to text him or call him in the time that he was gone because I never wanted him to feel guilty or conflicted about his choices.  I still feel that way, but I no longer want to suppress who I am.  I’m a mom and texting him about dentist appointments and school work is what I do.

He admitted that he feels like he is living a double live – golf and outdoorsy MonoBoy at Dad’s and his true, creative self at Mom’s.  He knows that it’s okay to be all of those things, but he can’t seem to be them all at both places.  I told him that I figured out basketball and I can figure out golf if he wants me to.  He doesn’t really seem to want that, though.  He mostly wanted to talk about singing lessons because he has decided that he wants to be the next Justin Bieber.

Let’s rewind for a moment.  It started with fashion design last spring when he borrowed my sister’s sewing machine and I took him to the craft store to pick out a simple pattern and some fabric to learn the basics of sewing.  He turned my dining room into a sewing room and for about a week, he spent time stitching designs onto a plain piece of fabric.  Needless to say, no one is wearing anything new sewn from a pattern during that week.

Then he moved onto painting.  The sewing machine was returned to its rightful owner and after a return trip to the craft store for canvas and paints, my dining room was transformed into an art studio.  He spent the next week sketching some designs and finally put the brush to the canvas.  He actually has a cool painting hanging in his room as a result.  The remaining supplies, however, have gone untouched.

Next it was photography.  He considered taking photography as an elective at school, and I let him borrow my camera to see if it was really something that he wanted.  I actually thought that this one might stick because he posts some pretty…creative?…photos on Instagram.  He climbed up onto my roof to take some pictures of the moon, realized that you need to know a thing or two about camera settings to take successful pictures, and climbed back down.  He never mentioned it again and his elective is Child Development.  (Please don’t let that mean anything other than an easy A.)

From photography, it was a quick hop to modeling.  He’s tall and thin and wants to live in New York and travel, so I really thought this could be the winner.  I signed him up for some modeling classes in the big city with a talent agency.  Well, you and I know that potential career that you embark on takes work, but MonoBoy hasn’t seemed to figure that out yet.  He must have thought that they were going to put him on a plane to New York on the first day.  After a couple of Saturdays of learning to walk the runway, speak clearly, and take care of your skin, he was done.  Luckily, they refunded my money.

Now, my dear friends, he wants to sing.  Yes, I asked the important question, “Can you sing?”  I think I’ve only heard him sing ONCE, and I vaguely remember that he could match pitch, but I certainly wasn’t evaluating him.  He just loves how he feels when he listens to music and wants to share that with the world.  Ummm, okay.  I emailed the choir director at his high school for guidance and MonoBoy is now taking singing lessons from him.  Just like when LoverBoy embarked on his new job, I held my breath during the lesson, waiting on the verdict.

He loved it and the choir director was very complimentary of his ability.  This could be a great confidence boost.  And did I mention that he loves it?

For now.  Who knows what next week will bring?  As long as it’s peaceful, I’ll be okay.

The chicks are back in the nest.

My nerves are finally starting to settle, but it didn’t happen until late yesterday evening.  I’m staying on my toes, though, since we all know that my roller coaster could gain momentum at any moment.

Super Dad ended up buying tickets to the Texas A&M vs Alabama game, so the kids were excited that they weren’t just driving three hours to tailgate and watch the game on tvs outside the stadium.  Since they were leaving at the buttcrack of dawn (The Ex can’t miss a moment of drinking time, I mean tailgating time), they decided to spend Friday night at his house.  No, go ahead and turn the knife one more time, so it’s good and snug.  They came by the house to pick out the perfect outfits, even though MonoBoy said that they would probably buy new stuff when they got there.  Of course, they would.  They were both excited and getting along.

I was surprising calm on Saturday despite the fact that the boys would be trapped in a car with a drinking man who LOVES to bash me, and who knows what would be said.  I went to my friend’s daughter’s soccer game, then went to another friend’s house to watch the game and a movie afterward.  (“Poltergeist” is highly recommended to take your mind off of your own problems.  Now those people had some problems.  I mean, their house was infested with creepy clowns.)  I did, however, constantly scan the crowd of 105,000 people to see if I could catch a glimpse of my two little Aggie fans.

I was going to go to a Octoberfest in the Park event with my mom and sister afterward, but after screaming at the tv over multiple interceptions, I decided that a beer tasting event was NOT the best plan.  I settled onto the couch to catch up on Scandal while I nervously waited to see if my boys would come home.  [Pauses DVR] Was that a car door?  [Strains to listen] I guess not.  The dog didn’t move.

By the time LoverBoy walked through the door, I was watching through my eyelids.  He walked by without saying a word.  Uh-oh.  I asked him what was wrong, and he said that he was worried about how to pay for it.  “College?” I stupidly asked.  “No, the other $24,000 endeavor I’ll be embarking on next year.”

You know, you want to raise intelligent children, but when they are old enough to use it against you, you start to rethink that and wish that you hadn’t read “Goodnight Gorilla” those thousands of times to him when he was a toddler.

LoverBoy has been so stressed out about the cost of tuition.  It started the day that his dad came over to discuss on campus living vs off campus living.  He knows that student loans will be in his future because his parents got a divorce and his dad lost his mind and there’s only so much that a single mom can accomplish.  This known fact has caused more anxiety than you can imagine.  He has a binder of printing out scholarships arranged by monthly tabs so that he can keep track of deadlines.  He’s written more essays than he did his entire three plus years in high school combined.  He has been searching for part-time employment to try to save money.  Although I appreciate his ambition, I hate that it’s stealing his joy.

It’s partially why I was happy for him to make this trip over the weekend.  I wanted him to be there again and remember all of the things that he has to look forward to.  I just didn’t think it through that he was going with The Ex, and that in itself can be a joy stealer.

I told him once again that he didn’t need to worry about it so much and that I was going to do everything that I can to reduce his burden.  “Plus,” I said ever so earnestly, “your dad said that he’s going to pitch in.”  I know, right?  I didn’t even crack a smile when I said it.  I decided to jump on LoverBoy’s dad’s-gonna-pay bandwagon.  Apparently, LoverBoy jumped off the wagon, however.

“No he’s not.  He’s going to spend his money on stupid stuff.  All he talks about is buying season tickets and getting a trailer for tailgating.  He only cares about having fun at football games.  He won’t have any money for tuition.  He’s going to blow it all.”

(Oh, so you’ve met him.)

I asked if he had talked to his dad about some of this anxiety.  “Every time I bring it up, he talks about scholarships as if they are a done deal.  Like someone is going to just hand them to me as if it’s nothing.”  (Seriously, he does think that.  He also thinks that MonoBoy is a shoe-in for admission.)  I was at a loss, standing there and searching for the right words.

“So how much more child support did you get?”

Oh crap, what did he just ask?  How in the heck did he know that?  Oh yeah, three hours in a car with the man who hates me more than Satan.

“Not much,” was all I could think to say.  He doesn’t need to know anything about it at all, let alone how much.

“Will it benefit me in any way?”

Are you kidding me?  Every cent that I get goes to benefit you and your brother.  Have you seen the car I drive?  Do you know when the last time I saw the dentist was?

Is what I wanted to say.  Instead I said, “Yes, the additional child support is going into savings for college.”

Needless to say, I slept none that night.  I wondered what conversation had been had.  I wondered what his thoughts about it.  I wondered if MonoBoy was buying it and if that’s why he didn’t come home with him.  I wondered how I would survive knowing that I have let my child down by not having enough saved for four years of college.

I finally pulled myself out of bed the next morning and went for a walk to try to clear my head.  When I got back, he was up and on the couch watching soccer.  I made him breakfast while he got ready for work.  It was going to be his first day of part-time employment at the facility I work at.  What if he hates it?  What if it’s just one more thing that he blames me for?

I decided to throw myself into some work for the day.  I’ve picked up a side job for extra money, you know, for college.  It helped to pass the time and distract me from my fears.  When he got home, he was in a great mood.  He loved the job.  Whew!

We watched the end of the soccer game together, then as we were watching Sports Center to catch up on the NFL games, MonoBoy walked in.  All of my chicks were in the nest and everyone seemed to be in decent spirits, so I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

 

 

He came home.

MonoBoy came home.  It’s been two weeks now and I haven’t wanted to jinx it by announcing it.  I have no idea what brought him home, and I don’t have the nerve to ask.  He came by one Friday night to get a tennis racket and stopped into his grandmother’s room to give her a hug and kiss.  She sleeps much of the time these days, so he woke her when he bent down to kiss her cheek.  He said that she jumped up, so excited to see him and threw her arms around his neck.  She told him that she hoped he knew how much she loved him and how proud she is of him.

He said to me, “She was so serious that it made me feel like she thinks she is dying and it scares me.”

I said, “No, she just never sees you and she misses you.”

It just slipped out.  Truth or not, I have been so very careful not to acknowledge his absence or make him feel guilty for it.  I panicked a bit, but he didn’t seem phased as he bee-bopped out to play tennis.  (No, I have no idea what the tennis thing was about.  Add it to the long list of things I don’t understand.)

The next day before the boys soccer game, MonoBoy showed up with his arms full of clothes and announced, “I’m home.”  LoverBoy and I were on the couch watching an international soccer game.  He looked at me with questioning eyes, and I just shrugged like, “How should I know?”

The first week was a bit of an adjustment.  There was some awkwardness.  He went to his dad’s house the first few evenings and I didn’t say a word.  I didn’t really feel like I could.  I’m sure that he’s confused and there’s guilt both ways.  This week has been much easier.  He seems happy and normal.  Okay, so normal is stretching it a bit.  The poor kid is just so lost.  He hasn’t finished the modeling classes.  He hasn’t touched the music thing I got him for his birthday that he just HAD to have.  He still goes to golf practice for the school, but he doesn’t play every day like he did or seem all that interested.  He’s picked up skateboarding and spends time at the local skate park in the evenings trying to teach himself tricks.  And today, he sent me a text from school asking if I could find him a voice teacher because he wants to learn how to sing.

It’ll keep your head spinning, but he brought his grades up to A/B status and he seems happy, so I’m trying to let it go.  Perhaps next week I will approach the subject of SAT/ACT tests.  My Type A Personality is currently at war with this new Laid-Back Mom persona.  Eventually, Type A will break free.  I just have to try to keep her on a leash when she escapes from the backyard of my brain.

On Friday night, the boys opted not to participate in the school homecoming festivities.  They wanted to branch out on their own and go to a rap concert in Houston instead.  (Can you hear Type A Mom barking her head off in the background?)  I was able to call in a favor for free tickets for them, and their friend has an aunt that works at a fairly close hotel, so they were able to stay in a hotel room for free.  It was definitely a first for all of us.  Laid-Back Mom had to practically bound and gag Type A Mom.  I was a nervous wreck.  Four boys (ages 17-18) heading to the big city on a first-time adventure solo.  I told myself over and over that next year, LoverBoy will be driving 3 hours away to College Station and living on his own.  He’s responsible and he knows how to use Google Maps.  This is no big deal.  Gulp.

I must have checked “Find my iPhone” about 400 times.  They were always where they were supposed to be.  There was one closed ramp that caused them to re-route and they did so successfully without my help.

My boys are growing up and they had a blast in the city.  They were responsible and relied on each other (great bonding experience) and they didn’t fight.  They were so proud and felt so independent.  And I didn’t even suffer that heart attack I felt coming on .

The next morning, they watched a soccer game on the tv at the hotel and drove back in town in time for their own soccer game.  It was the perfect thing to welcome MonoBoy back into the house and to get LoverBoy to accept his being there.

After their soccer game, though, MonoBoy had a fight with his dad.  He left the fields immediately after the game to go eat with friends from the team.  I guess he had previously committed to spending time with his dad’s new family.  Or so Dad thought.  According to MonoBoy, his dad had offered a trip to the deer lease (about a 30 minute drive away), which MonoBoy LOVES, but then texted to say that there was a change of plans.  Daddio was going to try out his new bow (that expensive thing he must have to hunt), so MonoBoy could go play golf with the step-brother.  MonoBoy said that he responded with, “Ok. We’ll see,” which he believed to be noncommittal.  Not so much to his dad.

MonoBoy texted me as soon as he got to the restaurant asking me to come and pick him up because “Dad is freaking out!”  When I picked him up, he asked me to drive through Taco Bell.  While we were waiting on our food, he was texting furiously back and forth with his dad, and then his phone rang.  I couldn’t hear what was said, just the loud booming voice through the phone that gives me nightmares and diarrhea.  MonoBoy promised him that he was hurrying, but he hadn’t eaten all day and was starving after soccer.

By the time we got to our house (a very short distance), MonoBoy had EIGHT missed calls from his father.  He’s nothing if not persistent.  And annoying.  MonoBoy flew into the house and changed into his golf attire and headed to his dad’s.  About thirty minutes later he returned home.

“Quick trip.  I’m guessing that you’re not going to play golf.”  No, instead his father ranted on for 30 minutes about how he had held up the whole family and ruined their plans and that he had “f%&ked them in the ass.”  Nice.

The next day, all was forgiven and he spent the entire day at the dear lease with Mr. Sore Ass.

Whatever.  He came home.

 

Lots of stuff happening, not much of it good

It’s been an eventful week.  First off, I got my car back today.  It’s almost hard to believe that the accident happened five weeks ago.  Other than obsessively checking my review mirror to make sure no one is about to ram into me, I have pretty much recovered from the mini-trauma of it.  (My kids would argue that I still drive like a grandma, but they are teenagers, so you can’t put much stock in their opinions.)

Second item to note is that yesterday was MonoBoy’s 17th birthday.  My baby is growing up.  He’s also trying to send me to an early grave.  I’m not sure what is worse – pining over him when he is gone or worrying about him leaving when he is home.

He spent some time with us over the weekend.  The boys are playing on a recreational soccer team for fun and they had their first game on Saturday.  Then half the team came back to the house to hang out.  It was like old times (as in last year), and I was in heaven.  By half-time of the Aggie game, however, they went off to do their own thing, but because I was still riding high off of the day, I didn’t feel the pain of being alone.  Until I woke up the next day.  No plans.  No obligations.  Just a huge void of nothingness.  I might have alternated crying and hyperventilating into a bag.

You know what that tells you?  I am not going to handle this empty nest thing very well.  I should probably come up with a new name for my blog.  I’m thinking it should be more along the lines of “Once Stronger.”

At some point over the weekend, MonoBoy mentioned that he planned to move home on his birthday.   I’ve heard the whole I’m-coming-home-thing a time or twenty, so I told myself NOT to get my hopes up.  Then I cleaned and organized his closet, bought a new picture for his room to replace the basketball decal, and went in search of the perfect birthday gift.  Obviously, I was completely calm, cool, and collected.

For his birthday, we planned to go out to eat with my family and then have cake/presents afterward, just like we always do.  On the way to the restaurant, he started asking questions about the A&M Campus tour this weekend.  You know, the one that my friend and I have been planning since our kids started high school.  Or birth.  He said that he didn’t want to go to Aggie Yell Practice and he didn’t want to spend the night.

WHERE IS MY PAPER BAG?

Okay, so the campus tour is more for LoverBoy, since he has actually applied for college there, but I had really started to view this as a mini family vacay.  I couldn’t wait to show them around and experience this with them.  I completely forgot that they are teenagers and dang near hate my guts.  If I had remembered that little piece of action, I might not have overreacted to his comments like I did.  (I also blame the anticipation of the homecoming that I wasn’t supposed to be getting my hopes up about.)

By the time that we got to the restaurant, none of us were speaking.  Oh happy day.

Things did get better during the meal and the gift really was perfect.  I even let go of the hope that he was moving home, which helped me calm down.  As he got ready to leave, he said that he didn’t know how to pack his stuff and move home without it being a big deal at his dad’s.  He said that he would probably do it the next day since he didn’t have golf practice after school and his dad would be at work.  I let him off the hook.  I told him that he didn’t need to do anything that would make him uncomfortable and that this arrangement didn’t have to be all or nothing.

Today I’m still hanging out at my office instead of going home and again facing the reality that he is gone.  I’m planning to let him off the hook with the college visit as well.  No sense in making him do something that he doesn’t want to do.  My therapist is trying to convince me that I can’t make him want it.  College, that is.  Or maybe she means living with me.

Either way, there is still lots of mourning going on over at my house – quitting basketball, moving out, killing the college dream.  Oh, and let’s add having any fun at the college visit, since The Ex is going.

Yep, lots of stuff happening over here.  Not much of it is good.