That IS How it Goes

You know that moment? 

That moment, when as a parent, you realize that your child is pulling away, growing distant and pushing the boundaries of independence?

That moment when you look down, realize that she’s no longer your “little girl”, but a full-grown human being, and she is looking you square in the eye, without being picked up.  That moment when the pain lodges itself just under your ribcage, squeezing your heart into a massive knot of “I don’t wanna let her grow up!”

That moment when you’ve had enough of the attitude and smart-mouth combination.  That moment when you say quietly to yourself “Get this kid out of the house before we both go completely around-the-bend-insane and we commit hari-kari on each other!” 

That moment, when you are totally at a loss for words, because you find out something that they’ve been keeping from you, either because they don’t know how to tell you, they don’t want to tell you, or they simply forget to tell you.  That moment when, just for a split second, your brain hiccups and can’t think – at all. 

That moment when you realise that your child, that baby that you held in your arms just yesterday– has a whole life to which you are not privy.  Not just what happens at school, but out in the world at large, you are not a player, and are barely a spectator because your star athlete has put you in the nose-bleed section – behind a pole. 

And then, there’s that moment when you realise that, in fact, this is something that’s been building for a long time.  It started the day you had a child handed to you in the hospital, and people started calling you a “parent”.  From that moment on, your darling angel worked toward that moment of separation.  Baby steps to begin with, then the tentative jog of a pre-teen, until it reached a full-out run for their life – as a teenager ready to graduate.

This is natural.  This is normal.  Children grow up – they get lives of their own – and they leave their parents to fend for themselves.  Often, the struggle for freedom is just that – a struggle.  While we as parents see this?

Our children are seeing something completely different.  Their perception of the world around them, and their bid for freedom from tyranny looks something a little more like this —->

My YoungerDaughter has hit this moment.  Like a brick wall.

And while I wish her the all the best in her endeavors as an adult – I still have trouble cutting the ties.  It’s hard to let them go.

So, I tell her, “I knew this was coming from the moment you were born.  I’ve thought about it, planned for it, and both dreamed and dreaded it through the years.  And while I’m happy and proud that you are confidently taking this moment to declare yourself……

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”

But this is how it goes.


Thoughtful Moment:  Having someone trust you with something that’s precious to them, is humbling.  They trust you not to break it, not to hurt it, and to treat it with the respect that they hold for it.  The same goes for that person introducing you to the important people in their life. 

This weekend, I was invited to meet A’s 2 children.  “A” is the man I’ve been seeing for about the last 6 months.  He’s met my kids, almost right from the start, but then my kids are older, teenagers and young adults, and it’s a little different then.  A’s kids are younger than OnlySon, and so I understood the wait. 

Not only that, but A’s kids live with their mom, almost 2 hours away, so he doesn’t get to see them as often as he’d like.  I know how badly I miss my own when they’re gone, even though they live with me, primarily, so I don’t want to intrude on time that should be special for him and them.

This weekend, however, he called and asked if I wanted to come over and meet them.  And yes, I was nervous.

(And yes, A, I know you’re reading this and laughing!)

I was nervous that they wouldn’t like me, I know it’s hard for kids to accept someone else in their parent’s life, sharing time and affection.  YoungerDaughter and OnlySon had their individual issues when I started dating again after the divorce, and, for the most part, we’ve worked through them.  I know there will probably be more in the future, it’s the nature of dating when you have kids.  Jealousies pop up in the strangest ways, sometimes, but as long as the kids know that I’m still there for them, and love them (well, DUH), then any little issues can be resolved with minor fuss.

So, when I went over to A’s house, I was nervous.  I felt a little like I’d been handed a Faberge’ egg, and asked not to drop it, while walking on marbles…

Well, of course, once I got there, I relaxed.  A’s kids are a lot like him, and that’s just fine with me.  I laughed quite a lot with his daughter, and his son was a quieter, peeking presence, keeping just enough distance to maintain his shyness. 

We watched Bee Movie. 

His daughter, “E”, and I bonded over fart jokes and talking about some of the weird things boys do.  I told her that her brother wasn’t so different from OnlySon, even though there’s 6 years’ difference between the 2 of them.  (OnlySon is 13, and A’s son is 7). 

And later, E told me she liked me… mainly because she thought I was funny and had soft hair… but hey!  It’s a start! 

It means a lot to me that I was trusted with the two people he holds most precious.  I’ll do my best not to break it.



Thoughtful moment:  It doesn’t matter what they say, it doesn’t matter what they do, or how old they are,

 when my children fall down, I want to pick them up.




We’ve got more drama going on at the house, again. 

It’s not the end of the world, but it is stressful and serious, and not really something I’m ready to make public now, if ever.

Suffice to say, that parenting never stops.  There will always be times when your child needs you, either to physically be there to help, or just emotionally to support.

And it’s hard to watch your babies, no matter their age, go through things that are so painful they make your chest hurt.  You want to step in, help out, fix it, make it go away, make it stop hurting.

But you can’t.  Not always.

Sometimes, the only thing you can do is hug them, tell them you love them, and that you’re there if they want to talk.

But you still want to pick them up, snuggle them like when they were little, rock them and let them cry if they need to, and soothe away the tears when they’re over.

No matter what other people say when they tell you “It’s just never going to end with this child, is it?  You really need to just tell them to grow up and let them hit rock bottom once.” 

It doesn’t work like that for me.

Yeah, I might get pissed at the things they do, sometimes.  I might yell and be angry at their actions.  But I still love them, and will never simply “abandon them to their fate”.

I can’t just leave my child, crying, hurting, curled up in a ball on the floor.  I don’t care how old they get. 

I. Will. Be. There. For. Them.

That’s the kind of mom I am. 



Where Childhood Ends- And Depression Begins

When I was little, I was very outgoing.  Very outspoken.  “Quite the little dickens” I heard, over and over.  I had a smile that never quit, unless I was thwarted in my evil plans to take over the universe.  I was bright, and sunny, and even had a pink bedroom. 

I was just the little girl my mother always wanted.

Of course, there were the mudfights, and the climbing trees, and the getting my clothes filthy 2 minutes after I got dressed… but still.  It was a near-perfect childhood.

When I was 11, we moved to North Dakota.  But, our family kept in close touch with another family, one that I’d known my whole life.  My best friend was the daughter, her parents were my parent’s best friends, and her brother was a good friend of my brother’s.  We spent pretty much all our time together growing up, until we moved away.  Even then, I would go down to their house in the summer, spend a couple of weeks, and come home.

Until one summer, when I was 15, going on 16. (Correction made, not that it matters to the telling, but it matters to me to tell the truth)

That summer, I went to stay at their house, like always, but things were different.  The brother was more aggressive, and more persistent in picking on, and teasing me.  I didn’t think much about it, except that he was really becoming a jerk.

One night, as I lay sleeping, I awoke to him molesting me.

In my shock and abject terror, I pretended to have a nightmare, so he’d leave, and I’d wake my friend, who was sleeping in the bed next to me.  After he snuck out, I ran downstairs, grabbed the phone, and called my parents.  At 2 in the morning.

My parents were groggy, of course, but told me to go wake up the adults in the house.  When I did, my mom spoke to their mom, who promptly dragged me upstairs, and forced me to confront her son, asking if he’d done what I said he’d done.  He faked confusion.  I was led, back downstairs, bawling, to be told by my parents that obviously I was just dreaming, and how dare I say such things.

I begged to go home, instantly.  Instead, I was shuttled from family member to family member, each taking me part way, until I reached home.

Once there, it was not spoken of again for 5 years.

In those years, I rebelled.  Getting more and more angry, more and more furious with my parents, and my mother in particular.  These were the people who were supposed to back me up, supposed to protect me.  And instead, they defended their friends and their horrible son.  I blamed my mother more than my father, because it was her opinions that carried the most weight in our household.  Her ability to apply guilt to everything, weighing it in the direction she wanted it to go, was overwhelming. 

I pushed the memories down deep, blocking them, even from myself, not realizing that they were where most of my rebellion stemmed from.  My desperate need to escape, to be different from those people.

The summer that I went from 19 to 20yrs. old, my parents finally got fed up with me running all night, every weekend.  Even though I never really drank at that age, they assumed that because I was out late, sometimes not coming home till the next morning, that I was on drugs.  Truth be told, most of the time, I was driving the other drunks home, and that’s why I was late.  I had never, and have never, taken any form of illegal or illicit drugs.  Even though they were offered many times, I had “control issues”, and couldn’t stand to think of acting the way I saw so many of my friends act while they were stoned.  Out of control, I couldn’t be sure of what would happen to me.  And I couldn’t do that.

Anyway, that summer, my parents (mostly the mother), decided that maybe I needed counseling.  They sent me to see a social worker, and when I arrived for the first meeting, his first words were “Your parents are worried about your behavior.  They think it might have something to do with you claiming you were molested a few years ago.”

Claiming.  Not admitting that it actually happened.  Just that I “claimed” it.

Needless to say, the counseling session went straight to hell, with me leaving in a ball of fury and tears.  All the memories came flooding back, causing a whole new batch of hot mess, which ended in me – hitting a spiral of bad behavior that I’d never seen before that summer.  I was told by my father that it was either join the armed services, or find a job.  I found a job nannying in New Jersey, and ended up there for 2 months, until I found out that I was – pregnant with Eldest.  I hadn’t realized it when I left home, as I’d been irregular all summer, due to drinking, and horrible eating habits.

To this day, I have never had any of the adults involved admit to what happened.

I have forbidden them to allow any of my children anywhere near “him” if they happened to take them back to Iowa.

He approached me a few years ago, wanting to “talk”.  I told him to get away from me instantly, and that if he didn’t, or if he ever touched one of my children?  I would kill him.  Myself.  And gladly go to jail for it.

The place where childhood ends, is not always at the initial abuse.  Sometimes, it comes later, when the people that are supposed to protect you, listen to you, believe you, and stick up for you….. don’t.  When you stop trusting that they’ll be there for you, you have to rely on only yourself.  When your life blows up, and there’s no one to catch you, hold you, and tell you that it’ll be alright, someday.  When your self-esteem disappears at 2am on a tearful phone call with your parents 800 miles away – because if your own parents won’t believe you, won’t stick up for you, then maybe you’re not worth it.

That’s where childhood ends.

Follow the Road Home

I had a chance to go home this weekend.

And by “home”, I don’t mean where I was born, or even the town that I graduated high school from.  The little town is a place that I lived in, off and on, for a few years.  A place that taught me a lot of lessons in my life, both good and bad. 

I made friends, made mistakes, found love, lost it, and learned a million things about life, parenting, and friendship there.  I had some of my best, and worst, years in this town. 

I was the conflicted, angry girl in this town.

I was a partying, laughing, screaming-through-the-night girl in this town.

I was a single mom in this town.

I have a lot of my fondest memories in this town, and some of my worst nightmares.

All three of my children were born in this little town.

The town seems smaller now, not quite as I remember it, but that’s normal.  Because, it was never really about the town.

It was always about the people there.

And, even though many years have passed since I spent any real time there, when I went back tonight, it was with those fond memories coloring my thoughts.

I was going today, to deliver some of EldestDaughter’s stuff to her.  She’s living in this little town now, pulling her life into something that she can be proud of.  I know that this place can help her do that.  It worked for me.

And, I also went today, to have dinner with one of my dearest, oldest friends.  My best friend from highschool, who was such an influence on so many areas of my life.  A woman who helped me figure out that there was more to life than what I was raised to believe.  That I could forge my own path through life, and have a blast doing it.  She was in town for a family function, and we arranged to get together with our daughters for supper. 

And, it was amazing.  The road trip was just something I needed to lift my spirits, after this last few days and weeks.  Listening to loud music, driving down the road, and a comfortable silence with YoungerDaughter, punctuated with moments of laughter, was just what I needed in that moment.

And, after hanging out at Elder’s apartment for a while, Younger and I drove around town, revisiting some of the old haunts, and remembering a lot of those good times.  A little shopping and a lot of memories. 

When supper time rolled around?  We went to the restaurant and started harassing ElderDaughter, as she works there.  The restaurant was empty, in anticipation of the supper rush, so we sat and chatted with Elder for a little while longer, before my friend and her daughter got there.

The food?  Was just as I remembered, normal, small town restaurant stuff.  Good.  The service?  Well, since it was ElderDaughter… what can I say?  She was funny, trying not to hover, but doing just what she was supposed to.  I watched her skip from table to table as people started coming in, and things got busy.  She was a pro, and I was proud of her.

The company?  Priceless.  I laughed so hard, I think I had my friend’s daughter worried for a minute, as I had tears streaming down my face, and had to wipe my eyes more than once.  I was seriously in danger of losing my french fries over some stories that were told.  Many of which, by the way, I did not remember, but others remembered about me.   Frightening!

And when the evening was over, it was… a little sad to think about, but… not too bad.  Because I knew that even though we were all going our separate ways, for now, that I could always find my way there again.  Not to that town, or to that restaurant, but to those times, those people, that laughter.

The Beach on better days

I just have to follow the road home.

Merry Misty Memories

Christmas in the post-War United States

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sitting today, in my jammies, with OtherHalf and OnlySon, relaxing and figuring out mechanical toys for the boys (I read the directions and set them up, they get all grinning and giggling). 

All the presents were opened last night, as is our tradition now.  The girls go with my folks on Christmas Eve, and their dad picks them up from there on Christmas Day.  It’s not perfect, but it works.  Christmas Day has come to be a day of relaxing, catching up, and just basically loafing around.  We usually watch movies, or play games, and graze our way through the leftover treats from the night before.

When I was little, though, Christmas Eve was not the night of noise and presents.  It was a night of Mysteries and Magic.

My parents would set up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, and presents would appear periodically, always with the admonition to “Don’t touch, shake, poke or pry”.  The mystery of what was in the boxes was like an itch that I couldn’t reach.  Of course, we’d sneak little taps or shakes when the parents weren’t watching, but we never learned anything.  They wrapped stuff pretty well.

Anticipation would build throughout the month, and on Christmas Eve, it would reach its peak. 

That night, I would to sit in front of the tree, just watching the lights, and dreaming about the magic of Santa.  Knowing that he would soon be coming to the house, while we were away.  Because, Santa always came to our house… not while we slept, but while we were at church.  After checking all the doors and windows, making sure that everything was locked up tight (I was a stubborn, skeptical kid, and had to know that he didn’t have any way in but the fireplace), we’d head out to go to the evening service.

I was raised Lutheran, but my parents have never been especially religious people.  One of the services we always attended though, was the Christmas Eve service.  The church we went to had a wonderful pastor, a man I still remember fondly.  His name was Pastor Senf, and he was soft-spoken, kind and funny.  And Christmas was just this magical night, when he seemed to light up the church by himself, with his soft words, and heartfelt message.

All I remember was the beauty of the candles that everyone lit, as the church lights were turned off, and we sang Christmas carols.  All those tiny lights, shining in the dark, as we all walked softly out into the night, still humming from the message Pastor Senf left us with.  Love, acceptance, and hope.  A message that I, even though I’m not Lutheran anymore, try to carry still in my heart.  Love transcends all religions, acceptance opens the way, and hope keeps us all striving to work together.

And once home, my parents could barely get us through the door, before we’d raced to the tree, only to see that Santa had been there during our absence.  The area around the tree was now full of presents, towering up and around the base.  The stockings would be stuffed full, showing us that we’d missed him once again. 

Magic had occurred.

I have never really tried to explain how the presents got into the house.  I’ve thought about and discarded many theories.  And in the end, I decided it didn’t really matter.  Because, Christian or Pagan, the message is all the same.

Because the real magic, well, that was the hope, the acceptance, and the love, and all those tiny lights, shining in the darkness.