Not the Fear of, but Missing Out

So, ElderDaughter got married yesterday.

And she’s due to give birth to my third grandchild, who is purported to be a girl, next week.

And she is in Washington state.

And I am in North Dakota.

And I can’t get there.

And I make jokes, I talk about how ED and her new hubby are now officially “Moose and Squirrel”, because that’s what I call them.

He’s a big dude, and yes, she’s a little squirrelly.

But, in reality…

The jokes are just a cover.

They’re to get me through the day, so I can get home without losing my shit.

……

It’s not okay today.

I’m not okay today.

Dim The Lights

And so we come once again to November, one of my least favored months of the year, containing my least favorite holiday.

Actually, I could do away with Thanksgiving altogether, and never miss it.

I think I’ve borne a deep-seated resentment towards this holiday since I was a child, to be honest, and I’ll tell you why.

As a kid, Thanksgiving meant having to dress up, and stay dressed up, All Damn Day. As a tomboy, this was one of the worst possible punishments you could inflict on me. I loathed wearing dresses, and having to wear one for a whole day… Not being able to climb trees with the cousins, or scurry up and down the cliff behind our house – hell – simply having to stay clean all day… It was hell.

And OK, the food thing was alright, but I was always a picky eater, so I pretty much stuck to turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing & corn. No funky salads, no strange fruity jello things, nothing unidentifiable, thanks. Pumpkin pie for dessert, with plenty of whipped cream, & I was done.

And then… Ultimate boredom set in.

The menfolk took over the living room to watch football, while the women ruled the kitchen.

There was nowhere for a tomboy cursed to wearing a dress for the day to go!

Gah!

I usually ended up sitting in my room, playing records on my record player, wishing I could change into my ratty jeans & scuttle down the cliff to the freedom of the river below. 

No joy. The maternal police in the kitchen guarded the stairway & would’ve caught me.

As a grownup, I became resigned to the holiday – until my brother destroyed it a few years ago for me with his hate-filled email one year, & a ranting phone call another year.

I… Quite simply… HATE … Thanksgiving with pretty much every fiber of my being.

And yet – every year, I’m forced to partake in this much-loathed ritual, to make my parents happy.

*sigh* 

At least I don’t have to explain why Mom asks me to make the pumpkin pie every year anymore, since my sibling & his family moved away. 

I wish I could say no.

I wish I could be far away this year & not have to “do” Thanksgiving.

I’ve never really seen the true need for this holiday. A secular holiday “celebrating” something that ended up being basically a farce? Pilgrims & natives eating together in thanks? And then European settlers basically trying to destroy the natives in their greed for land and domination? 

Why are we giving thanks again?

I’m thankful most of the year for what I have, I don’t need this one freaking day to remind me to give thanks – thanks anyway.

And shitty things always seem to happen at this time of year, so I walk around, cringing, waiting for the other shoe to hit me on the back of the head.

I’d like to just fit a dimmer switch on November… Turn it down, gradually, a bit at a time…until that day rolls around… And I can just dim the lights & pretend to not be home?

Monster Man

Papa’s a Monster Man.

That’s my dad.

He “rescues” monsters from under beds, detangles them from closets, and saves them from the horrors of dark, drafty basements, then returns them to their natural habitat – The Dump.

Haven’t you ever seen Nickelodeon’s classic cartoon “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters!” ??


When EldestDaughter was little, she adored this show, & lived its tenets religiously. Monsters lived at the dump, and went to school there. They only came to human homes to practice their scares, and if they were still there by daylight – well – they had to be rescued – of course.

When EldestDaughter ended up with one caught under her bed… She knew.

Time to call Papa.

And of course, he came right over. Because what else do Papas do when their granddaughters call? I ask you?

So, he “rescued” the monster, stuffing it deep in his pocket (so the daylight wouldn’t hurt its eyes…duh…), and EldestDaughter then announced that she simply had to go with him to the Dump to make sure the monster was properly released.

Uh… Ok… 

Well, he took her, anyway, & they released the monster, which promptly scurried off into its proper hole to get back to “class”. 

Or so EldestDaughter informed me when she got home. I’m trusting her imagination on that one.

But the tale doesn’t end there…

Papa’s reputation as a Monster Man was solidified when EldestDaughter retold the story to one of her friends.

Cut to a couple of years later….

Papa gets a phone call from said little girl’s mother. 

(By this time all the kids in town called my dad Papa because EldestDaughter called him that. It stuck for many years until he retired from his janitorial position at the local school)

*Mother of Girl*: “Papa? I need you to come to the house”

Papa: “Oh, MoG? What’s the problem?”

*MoG: “Seems there’s a monster in the basement, and Girl says you’re the only one who can rescue it. I can’t get her to go down to the basement -at all. Please?”

Papa: (laughing) “Sure, MoG, I’ll be right over.”

When he got to the house, he had Girl stand at the top of the basement stairs with a laundry basket.

Papa: “Now, Girl, don’t you move. You stay right here at the top of the stairs. I’m going down there, and I’m gonna catch this monster…but if it gets away from me and runs up here – you be quick and catch it with this laundry basket…OK? But whatever you do…don’t come downstairs!”

Girl: “Ok, Papa. I’ll wait for you!” 

So, Dad clomped down the stairs, banged around some, hollering & clanking things together for a few minutes…putting up a fight, you know.

And when he came upstairs…lo and behold, there was a suspicious lump in his coat pocket, which he kept confined with his hand, telling it to “settle down & behave” because he was “taking it home”.

Girl was all smiles, & made sure to watch as Dad drove away in his pickup – and HE made sure to drive in the direction of the dump, and stay away from their house for a little while before returning. (They were close neighbors, had to make the timeline believable!)

Another satisfied customer of the Monster Man.

But the story still isn’t over…

The Dump closed a couple of years ago.

And Girl is now a grownup…who recently got married & lives out of state.

And my dad likes a website called ThinkGeek.

Ever hear of the Eviltron?

Well, its a tiny, magnetic speaker. That makes various, creepy noises.

Dad built a small box, & attached this doohickey to a rare-earth magnet inside the box.

And mailed it to the unsuspecting new, young bride.

After turning it on…of course.

He included a note telling her that, since the Dump had been closed, SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO BE ONCE AGAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR HER MONSTER – SO HE WAS MAILING IT BACK TO HER.

Is 20 years a long enough time to dedicate to a joke?

My father received a beautiful thank you note in the mail later, telling him that this was the single most memorable and original wedding present ever received.

And she would be opening it far…far…

Far…from the house.

Thank you very much.

Signed – Girl, and her Boy.

I am now in possession of the last of my Dad’s eviltrons, and having used it on all of my coworkers, successfully…

I think it’s time to return it to Dad.

Seriously – I think he needs to build one more monster box – for EldestDaughter.

The originator who gave the Monster Man his reputation to begin with.

Get her, Papa. She’ll love it.

Empty the Nest?

How long do I tend the nest for a child who has already flown?

Here I sit, feeling like the worst mother in the world, right now. Tears pooling in my eyes as I type this, because I told OnlySon that I am planning on leaving North Dakota in a year, and he’s angry, albeit trying not to show it. 

He wants everything to remain the same forever, but that can’t happen. Life stagnates if left to sit too long with no forward motion.

And I have been sitting still for many years now, waiting for something to change.

I’m not happy here, anymore.

Too many heartaches and heartbreaks.

Not enough reasons to look forward to getting out of bed every morning.

So, why should I stay?

For a son who has moved in with his father & is now going to be starting a new life of his own, getting a job, being busy with that & dropping by when he needs a shower or to pick up something else I’m storing in my basement or his bedroom?

For a job, which, yes, I enjoy my work – but, let’s face facts, isn’t a life?

Let’s see… Hmm…

What else does North Dakota have to offer me?

Two ex- husbands, one within city limits, and the other an hour away… No, that’s OK.

I’ll pass.

No one has been able to come up with a compelling, or even logical, reason why I should stay beyond my timeline.

I can’t live for my children’s benefit forever. There comes a time when they have to spread their own wings and leave the nest.

This is the way of life.

Why should I stay?

Tell me. When I feel as though there’s nothing left here for me…

Why?

The First Night

The quality of the sound is different, somehow.

The sound of the absolute silence of my house, for this, the first night of me officially living alone.

OnlySon moved out on Monday.

And EldestDaughter left with her horde today.

I’ve had days & nights on my own before, sure. Plenty of them. OnlySon went practically every weekend to his father’s house. I’ve had summers without the kids since the divorce.

It’s not like I’ve never had the house to myself…

But it’s never been this official.

And a part of me feels as though I’ve been set adrift. 

Unmoored, I am not sure which direction I’m headed in now.

I no longer have children to raise.

I have no spouse or SO to share with or answer to.

Some might think this is a reason to celebrate, to cut loose & go all “Yay Me” all over the place.

But, that means…they don’t really understand who I am at my core.

I am a caretaker.

I like and thrive on having people I care about around me to share my life with, be they children, an SO, Chosen Family, you know…loved ones.

When I’m alone… 

There’s no one to care for.

And there’s no one here who cares for me…so…

What’s the sense in staying?

Time to figure out how to get gone.


Commencement

OnlySon has graduated.

It was a fairly quick ceremony, compared to both of my daughters’, inexplicably, as the class sizes were comparable, but for whatever reason, it went easier. Which was alright with me.

I teared up a couple of times, when they first walked up, realizing that this was my youngest, my baby…and he was now old enough to claim his high school diploma & entry into adulthood…leaving childhood behind.

And when he stood in line to await that diploma, that final walk before he left his mother’s care, and her home, to venture into the wide, wild world as his own man.

A Man in Motion.

He was not to be stopped.

With a grin on his face, he kept going…leaving me to find my own way from here on out.

Exit Strategy

Graduation approaches swiftly, & I’m heavily in planning mode.

OnlySon has his cap & gown, & is eagerly awaiting the day he can kick high school to the curb.

He has requested Texas chocolate cake (a much-beloved recipe of our family’s) for his graduation party, which will be held at my house after the ceremony.

And…it’s going to be a joint party for my son…with his father, my ex-husband.

I know the ex really only wants to do a joint party because he doesn’t want to be bothered with having to plan a party, buy the supplies, host the damned thing, clean up afterwards, yadda, yadda, yadda… It’s always been his MO, to make me do all the work when it came to this sort of thing, while taking a share of the credit. Asshat. 

He says he’s bringing a second cake (he works as a baker at a grocery store here in town, so OnlySon requesting a homemade scratch recipe has wounded his pride, I’m sure), but I know his family… I’m making 2 of my cakes, just to make sure there’s some left for my family.

All the while, my anxiety has me in heavy emergency exit-strategy mode.

Except…

How do you get away from someone when they’re at your home? And they bring their family with them? Their very loud, very confrontational, very Greek, family? (If you’re picturing My Big Fat Greek Wedding in your head…Yep, you’re seeing the right people).

If anyone gets up in my face, I’m going to have a tough time holding my cool.  I will try, for my son’s sake…

But, as I’m passing out pieces of cake, I might be tempted…