Give Them Wings

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

“Landed.”

“Are you in another country now?”

“Yep”

Kidlet is 19 years old and he just took a solo trip out of the country. He planned it, got his passport, paid for the tickets, saved up the spending money, and is doing the thing.

“No time for a drink yet, the next flight boards soon.” He’s old enough to drink in Canada and is looking forward to buying his first (legal) adult beverage.

He still has 2 more flights until he arrives at his final destination, some online gaming friends he’s visiting for a few days.

And I couldn’t be prouder.

I was 21 when I made my first trip (mostly) alone, relying on some inheritance to take a road trip from Maryland to Texas. Kidlet riding along in his car seat, still in diapers. The Tarzan soundtrack kept us going through that trip. I belted out “You’ll Be In My Heart” every time it came on, singing it directly from my heart to him, unable to imagine a day that I wouldn’t be right there beside him. I couldn’t begin to see this far into the future.

But here we are.

“What’s your soundtrack for this trip?”

“Ride” (By Twenty One Pilots) “I’ve had that song playing in my head.”

I smile.

Three years ago, almost to the day, Kidlet and I took a road trip to NY. It was right after Parker died and we just needed to get away. We went to see one of my best friends, also someone I knew from online. When we started I had never heard “Ride” but we spent the trip playing music for each other and it was one that got played often. By the time we were driving back it had become one of my favorite songs. We belted out the lyrics together the whole way home.

“I love you Kidlet.”

“Love you more Mom.”

Love you more isn’t a competition, it means he loves me more than all of the miles and distance between us. It’s a reminder that no matter how far apart we are, we’re still together, we’re still close.

I realize how lucky I am to have this relationship with my son. I’m still not quite sure what I did right or how I did it in the middle of all the things that went wrong for us.

In the midst of our closeness I spent his life letting him stretch his wings whenever I could.

And he sure is using them to fly.

 

The Duality of Mother’s Day

This is a Really Real Mother Post and also a Really Real Widow Post.

Mother’s Day is both wonderful and hard.

I’m love my role as a mother. I’ve loved every phase of motherhood even though there have been periods that were harder than others. I always found the joy in every part of my relationship with my son.

As a teen I wanted 5 kids and felt I was meant to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I wanted to be the quintessential housewife while also having dreams of a career. Above all I knew I wanted to be a mom.

Well, I got the title of mom much earlier than I planned and by giving birth at 19 I grew up right along side my son. We were a team.

In hindsight I’m glad he was my only. It set us up to have an incredible bond.

Things just have a way of working out the way they are supposed to.

When he was eight Parker came into our lives and grew into her role as his other mother.  She was never really step mom, she was equal mom, and eventually favorite mom, a title she still holds from the grave.

While he was very much her son, she wanted to give birth to her own biological child. At one point we had a donor and we tried. I still remember the look on her face when we realized her growing health problems meant we had to stop trying. In one of her last emails before she died she talked to a friend about both, how much she loves Draven and also how much she wanted a bio child and knew it would never happen.

I’m glad she got to experience motherhood and I hate that she never got to experience it in that way.

I know it broke her heart.

Every Mother’s Day she is on my mind. I didn’t just lose a wife, I lost the only other person with whom I will ever share the title of mother.

I’ve seen lots of posts on Facebook about how wonderful mother’s day is and also how hard mother’s day is and for me, it’s both.

So today I’m quietly reflecting on memories of raising my son and sharing that job with Parker.

I hope today is a happy day for you, whether it’s because you are celebrating mother’s day or because you find some other reason to smile.

Remember, motherhood doesn’t have to be about giving birth or raising children. Motherhood can also be about nurturing your own inner child, or the kids in the neighborhood, or chosen family, or fur (or scale or feather) babies, or any number of other ways one can nurture and protect.

I feel the need to thank everyone who has been following along with these posts. I appreciate you all.

 

 

 

Every Body Remembers Part 1

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

More specifically, this is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Trigger Warning:  Violence, Police Violence, Mention of Drugs

Story time.  This is long, one of my longest posts in awhile.

When I was around 22, my son’s father and I were dirt poor and facing homelessness.  It was the first time my mental health prevented me from working and he wasn’t able to get or hold a job either.

I found a mental health program that would pay our rent for a year if we could find a place under $400 a month.

We looked and we looked,  not finding a single thing.  The offer was about to run out and we were desperate.  Finally we came across a beat-up, slumlord owned, row home in one of the worst areas of the city.

We moved in.

We put our living room in one of the bedrooms on the second floor because bullets were less likely to come through those windows if shots were fired (and they were, leaving a hole in the car I was borrowing at the time).

We were the only white family for blocks.  I got pulled over regularly and learned to carry not only my licence, but my utility bill and even a copy of my lease.  The only people that looked like us in that neighborhood were driving through buying one of the many types of drugs that were sold from most corners and in front of the abandoned houses.

Our time there wasn’t all horrible.  We made friends with the neighbors, both the ones trying to “clean up the streets” and the ones selling the drugs.  We stayed out of the drama and got to know them all as individuals.  We got to know their stories and why they ended up where they were.  We cried real tears when someone we knew well, who just happened to be in a feud with another dealer, was shot in the head and died.

They also looked out for us.  They knew we stood out and could become easy prey so I was often escorted from my car to my house if I had to park far away.  Once, in a miscommunication between us and roommates, our front door got left wide open while no one was home and someone from the neighborhood watched our place for almost 12 hours.  Of course part of that is the fact that no one wants the cops to show up on “their street.”

But one day the cops did show up.

I had just gotten Kidlet out of the tub.  I can still see where I was standing, with my tiny 3 year old, wrapped in a towel, on my hip.  I heard breaking wood and the front door slam open and “This is the police” and countless footsteps stomp through the house and up the steps towards me.  Guns were drawn and pointed at my face.  At my 3 year old’s face.

At My 3 Year Old’s Face.

After demanding to know What The Fuck was going on, my sons father was cuffed and slammed against the stairs.  I remember seeing him, defeated, sitting on the bottom step.

They brought people I’d never seen before in from out front.  People just passing through?  Someone they thought was involved with whatever they thought was happening at my house?

While sitting on the sofa with my still mostly naked son, strangers from out front cuffed and on the floor around me, cops watching me, they threw random clothes at me and told me to dress him.

I asked for a warrant repeatedly.  Hours? later they produced one.  Something about having to remove the judges name being the reason for the delay.  I’m honestly not sure.

They said they saw us dealing drugs through our front door.  Said they had been watching us for years building a case.   My son’s father said it was because we were white, because we could only look like us, and be in this neighborhood, for drug reasons.  They said they had no idea what race we were.  Those two facts do not go together.

My sons father and I smoked pot at one point.  From what I recall we didn’t have any actual marijuana leaf in the house though, we hadn’t smoked in quite some time.  We couldn’t even keep the lights on.  We weren’t getting high.  They found a box of seeds and stems and some paraphernalia.  They threatened to arrest us for that if we didn’t just sit still and shut up and drop it.

A little while later they took what they found and left.  Broken door still sitting wide open with no way to close it.

We never heard another word.

There’s a point to me telling this story, but this is long enough, I’ll tell the rest in a part two.

Hey, Mom.

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

We have a totally different relationship now.

It’s 6am texts with “Hey, mom have you heard this song?” while he’s finishing his shift at work and I’m still sleeping.

It’s check in texts from both of us “How’s work going?” “How are you feeling today?”

It’s almost weekly phone calls and the occasional video chats where we catch up on how life is really treating us and discuss serious world topics that make my heart swell with pride when I realize how grown he really is.

It’s both of us talking about our relationships and how happy we are but also talking about problems and getting advice from a different perspective.

I still love those texts where he shares a song with me.  Music speaks to both of us in ways that a lot of people can’t fathom.  One of my favorite trips was shortly after Parker died, a road trip together, to NY, going back and forth sharing the songs that were getting us through the loss.  By the end we were singing each others songs and crying together.

This morning he sent me one of his current songs.  I did what I do and pulled up the video and the lyrics.

By the end of the first chorus I was crying.

That great big ugly cry that felt like it had been pent-up for years (but it hadn’t).

I knew why he sent it to me.

Not to make me cry, of course, but it spoke to me about his childhood, in a loose round about way, without being specific.  Of hard times he and I had, before he left, where we fought non-stop about everything and anything.  It spoke of a mother, me, who wasn’t well and a kid who finally understood that the mother was doing the best she could.

“And though you say the days are happy, why is the power off and I’m fucked up?”

And the thing is, we could both be reading totally different things into these songs. Sometimes we discuss them and realize we are.  I haven’t had a chance to really talk about this one with him.

I love that he trusts me enough to share this stuff with me.  I didn’t have a relationship with my parents where I could have discussed my music with them at his age, or really at any age.  They didn’t get it, and didn’t really want to.

My relationship with Kidlet is different now.

It’s 2,700 miles different.

It’s full-grown man different.

It’s still pretty damn amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

So long and thanks. . .

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

The Kidlet is all grown up.

This was his first visit home after 11 months gone and it was such a different sort of way to spend a week under the same roof.

Such a different sort of way to relate to each other.

Such a different sort of way to talk with each other.

But while so much has changed, nothing has.

He walked in and opened the fridge, asked if there was anything he couldn’t have, then grabbed what he wanted.

He still climbed in bed beside me and cuddled and talked.

He still sat on the floor in front of me while I brushed his hair.

He still picked on me endlessly, this time ganging up on me with his girlfriend and Wonder Woman while I jokingly fought back against the onslaught.

I was so afraid, in the days leading up to this visit, that we’d spend the time fighting, like we did before he left.  So afraid that we’d fall back into the old dynamic.  That I wouldn’t know how to relate to my son as an adult that lives on his own and runs his own life.  How would I go about making the switch with him under this roof again.  Would we be right at each others throats in an instant.

And instead we’ve spent the time enjoying being with each other.

It’s a different sort of relationship.

I’m so proud of who he is and I can finally see, first hand, in person, how much the way I raised him shaped him into the man he’s become.  I can finally say I’m proud of the job I did.  Most people were completely against how I raised him, homeschooling when I could barely keep a roof over our heads, not following a curriculum, not punishing him, and just walking away from almost all of the traditional parenting methods.  But I now see that, for him, it was what worked.  He’s an amazing human and I’m proud of myself for doing what I knew was right.

I’m happy to see him, enjoying the time I’m spending with him, but tomorrow morning I don’t think it will be as hard as I thought it would be to watch him go.  He’s just a flight away, and while I’ll look forward to the next trip, in the meantime I’m looking forward to having my routine back, and he’s looking forward to his.

He’s done what we all hope our kids do.  He spread his wings.

And he’s doing better than any of his parent did.

I’m so fucking proud of my kid.

The Quiet Before the Storm

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I feel really good these last few days.

There’s some lingering depression where I can’t quite figure out what I want to get into and nothing seems interesting.

All of my pain issues are flaring and all of my everythings hurt.

But I’m handling both of those things well, because otherwise I’m stable right now.  I feel good.  My emotions are in a pretty upbeat place.

Yesterday I cleaned and cooked and made a rotisserie chicken for the first time (chicken bondage anyone?) and then made chicken stock from the carcass in preparation for chicken soup today.  I did school work and DBT work and just got a whole lot done.

And in between I mindlessly scrolled Facebook for way too much time because I honestly couldn’t figure out what to focus on, nothing could hold my interest.

The Kidlet will be here in less than a week and I’m super excited about that while also stressing about all of the things I stress about before someone comes to visit.

It’s very strange to stress about those things before my son gets here, but he no longer lives under this roof and this is no longer the house he left.  I’ve been looking around and seeing how much has changed now that it’s Wonder Woman and my space and while the address is still the same, he will be walking into an entirely different house.  Very little stayed the same.

I wonder how much he changed.  I wonder how much he will think I did.

I worry about the dynamic we had when he left and how hard it will be to avoid that dynamic now that he’s visiting and staying here for a week.  In theory it should be easy, he’s an adult.  A man living on his own with his own agenda and his own rules.  But old habits . . .

I would hate to see us fight on his first visit back home when we’ve mostly avoided it the entire time he’s been gone.

But overall, this has been a really good few days.  I’m able to keep my anxiety at bay, taking it as it comes and not ruminating over it for too long.  All I can do is my best while he’s here and worrying about it now won’t do a whole lot of good.

Same with worrying about my next crash.  It’s sort of inevitable that I will have one, probably sooner rather than later, possibly within the next few weeks if history is any indicator.  But worrying about it won’t stop it, and will only take today’s good mood away.  It feels good to be able to sit the anxiety down for a bit.  To recognize that it’s there, feel the feels but not let it overwhelm me, and then put it away.

This may be the calm before the storm but I’m focusing on the calm, instead of waiting for the storm.  I can deal with the storm when it gets here.

All Grown Up

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

This is my first Christmas since Kidlet moved across the country to start his own life as an adult.

He started walking on his first Christmas, at 9 months old, not even walking, but running across the living room at my mothers house, where we lived, to get to his presents.

And now he’s been across the country for 9 months.

A year later, I remember staying up half the night putting together a giant play kitchen for him, something he was probably too young for, but I had the money and it was something I knew would last him.  He got a tool bench that year too, and a talking doll, and so many other gifts because the money was there and I was so used to being broke.

There was the Christmas that we were so broke I handmade every one of his presents, and he received his favorite one, I think, to date.  A set of 3/4 inch pvc pipes cut to different lengths, along with connectors.  They became swords and guns and goals and places to hook blankets for forts.  We added to the set over the years and he played with them until he was much much older.

There were the Toys for Tots years, and the hand me down years, and the years that my family and friends made Santa happen.  There were years that I figured it out too, and made Christmas happen on my own, and damn, they felt good.

The year he learned that Santa was in all of us, the spirit of giving and helping and paying it forward to another family when you can.

I have memories of Christmases where we started different traditions.

My grandmothers ceramic tree in his room with small gifts wrapped underneath it, for him to open alone in his room, to let us sleep in, of course.

The years I’d let him open gifts from family members a few days early, spreading them out day by day, because I couldn’t wait to see the joy on his face.  I just couldn’t wait.

We’re used to being apart on holidays, he would spend months at a time at his father’s, states away, and I know this isn’t my first Christmas without him, but this one is so much different.  This one is the first of many with him living on his own, starting his own traditions with his own family.

I’m so proud of who he is and all he is capable of.  I’m so proud of him for spreading his wings and flying.

But I remember when he started walking that first Christmas, and tonight, I miss him.