Okay, so I've sat for a week trying to find other things to write about but the two moody pieces are going to happen first and I just have to deal with that.
I mean really deal with it. I've been avoiding writing them because I haven't wanted to deal with all of the emotions around them. Trying to convey what I'm feeling in a blog can be tricky. Sometimes I'm just sharing or trying to get something off my chest and it ends up sounding whiny. I am rarely whiny. And when I am I will tell you, "I'm whiny." But in reading things sometimes it's hard to get the tone from it that I was trying to convey. So anyway, these next two blogs are not whiny. But they are emotional. Or they were, I'm better now. Really.
Okay, so as you all know C broke his ankle a couple of weeks ago. And you all also know that he didn't want me to come to Burlington and that I was not happy with his choice. I respected his decision and did not go, but I wasn't happy about it. This is the story of everything around that.
When I first told everyone about his ankle and the fact that he didn't want me there and how torn I was a friend of mine sent me a message telling me that "no one would judge me for not going." I had to raise my eyebrows at this one. I know he was being supportive, not only of my choice not to go but of C's decision not to have me there, however, he's been my friend long enough that he should know the exact number of fucks I give about what anyone else thinks of my parenting choices.
Zero. That would be zero fucks given.
I might question my own parenting choices, I might have a few regrets in things I would have done differently, I might be completely unconventional in a lot of ways, but the only person who gets to openly challenge my parenting and have me actually care is C's father. That's it. I think more people should parent that way instead of by committee. We get so worried about what other people think of us and our decisions that we stop actually thinking about why we make the choices we do. And I know my friend knows this. And like I said, I know he was just being supportive and phrased it in a way that I raised my eyebrows at. Not only because of the zero fucks but because he was high and delirious to think I wouldn't be judged by my choice.
Of course I was judged. Moms are always judged. Work outside the home, stay at home with your kids, breastfeed, stop breastfeeding, solid food, homemade baby food, brands of clothing, lessons, school choices...on and on and on. Dads get it to a certain extent but I've never heard the phrase "daddy wars" have you? So of course I was judged. Sometimes it was really subtle, "Oh I would have been there within a day! You are so strong." sometimes it was overt, "I can't believe you aren't going. He is your CHILD." I just kept repeating to myself that this is what C wanted and that he would be fine. And talking to Brent about it and getting reassurances from him that this was the right call to make.
That doesn't mean I ever got comfortable with the choice. In fact I had a few moments of crisis around it. One happened in Hawaii. See, part of not ever getting comfortable with the choice was a daily check in with C to make sure he was okay. And to reinforce with him that I could still be there by the time he had his surgery. We got home from Hawaii on Friday I could be on a plane Saturday and there with time to spare for his Monday check in. Finally he told me "I got this."
I had to turn to Brent and ask, "Is it as frustrating to hear from me as it is from him?" Because see, that's what I say. "I got this." It's my back off warning. I can handle "it" whatever "it" is and until I tell you I can't then back up and give me room.
And that caused a little moment of crisis for me.
I didn't turn to my parents for much when I was growing up because it never crossed my mind to do so. I've talked about how I got there in earlier blogs, so I'm not going to rehash things, but I just didn't depend on my parents by the time I was in high school. I think this was shocking for them at times, by the time they had the energy to focus on just me and help me out I didn't want it. I didn't have room for it and I never thought to ask for it. When Brent and I decided to get married I can remember telling my parents. I walked down the hall to their bedroom knocked on the door went in and announced it. We were getting married in December, Brent was joining the Navy and would be leaving in January for basic training and I would be joining him when that was over. I didn't ask their opinion or their permission. I just told them what I was doing. I was 17.
So to hear "I got this" directed at me gave me a little moment of doubt. Just a moment. I talked myself back from the ledge of "He thinks we aren't there for him!" to "He is confident he can handle this because we HAVE been there for him." But it was still a moment where all of the mistakes you made as a parent come rushing back, and what if this is another one? What if I really need to be there and I am not there? But I had to trust that he meant it.
Now I have to clarify a little here. If he were 16 and away from home for something he wouldn't have had the choice. Even his freshman year in college I'm not sure I would have let him dictate if we came out or not. But now? He is 21, he's been living on his own for the majority of the year for the past 4 years. He has his own social support network. If he says he's got this he probably really does. And the only way he's going to know if he does or doesn't is to try.
So I didn't go.
Monday came time for the surgery and he left word to have the hospital call when he got out. I'm not going to lie; when the nurse called to give me the update and then put C on the phone and he was groggy and doped to the gills (but still coherent enough to warn me he might not be coherent) I cried. The relief was like a wash over me. I still wanted to be there, but he was fine and so I would be as well.
Then Tuesday hit. Talking to C via text while waiting for service on the car he tells me he doesn't think he will come home for Spring Break. Multi-level house and crutches are not the best mix. I had been holding on to the "Just a few weeks and I will see him and touch him and fuss over him and make sure he is fine" very tightly. Even knowing there was a shot he wouldn't come I had convinced myself that he would. So I broke down in tears in the waiting room of the dealership. Quiet ones, not the big ugly cry, but I still couldn't stop. Then the phone rang and it was another nurse from the hospital. She had seen the note to "Please call my mother with updates" and wanted to make sure someone had called me because she was a mother as well and knew she would want them.
"So you aren't coming at all?" No, not at all. He wants to handle this on his own and as he is an adult we need to respect his judgement and trust we've raised him to be independent and competent.
"He says he's been using cabs as well as friends for rides. He says he has money but I just wanted to make sure you were aware." Yes, he has money. I sent him extra money. In fact I'm the one who reminded him he could use cabs to get around if he needed to when friends weren't available. Trust me I'm in touch with him.
"He's been really great, but groggy. Hopefully he will be fine when he's on his own. Though the weather is such a mess I'm not sure you could make it anyway." Well he is going back to an apartment he shares with three other people so he won't really be on his own, but yes I hope he handles the transition well. (I didn't say anything about the not so subtle dig that I should still be headed out there, though she was right, the storms that weekend had caused huge travel snarls so even if I had disregarded his choice and gone there is no telling if I would have made it and depending on what cars were left to rent if I would have been any sort of help at all anyway)
"I have to say I hope my 16 year old turns out to be as pleasant and as thoughtful as C is at 21." Well, to have them turn out that way you need to be as lousy of a mom as you seem to think I am so good luck with that...(okay I didn't say that, but I was thinking it by then)
The rest of Tuesday passed with me in about the foulest mood I've been in in years. One of those that is so dark people walk in a wide circle around you as they see you coming. You are just radiating "Don't fuck with me today" vibes. When Brent got in the car after work he said, "Not a good day I take it?" before I even said a word. And as I told him about the day the tears kept coming back. I ignored them because they were pissing me off, and he ignored them because he didn't want to get in the line of my pissedoffness. But they were there.
Then C changed his mind and decided that he would come home after all. Once he was inside the house he can live on the main floor so really it's just negotiating a few stairs in front and he thinks it will be fine. I was relieved but it still took another few hours for the dark cloud to lift. We had chocolate ice cream at the hockey game and that helped.
So is it has been really challenging.
Not for me, for him.
I've had to deal with some self doubt and the typical parenting response of wanting to do everything for your child even when you know that's a bad idea.
He's trying to learn how to negotiate the terrain with crutches and a wheel chair. He's learning just how non-ADA places that say they are ADA really are. He's trying to keep up with school work and lab hours and not go out of his skull with cabin fever. He's had to deal with an overbearing mother on an almost daily basis. He's had his first broken bone, his first set of extreme drugs, his first surgery all in the span of two weeks. And he's done fine.
It's not been easy, I'm sure there have been a lot of times he's been super frustrated and maybe even a few times he's thought it would have been easier to have me there (Hey! It could have happened) but the bottom line is he has handled it. Not because he thought we wouldn't be there for him but because we raised him to know he didn't need us to be.
He's got this.