The pusher…

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve pushed my son.

When he was small, these pushes manifested as gentle loving nudges, inviting him to take his first steps. Or as a push on a swing to elicit screams of laughter and joy. Then there were the pushes that hovered between delight and fear, say as the first time he rode his bike without training wheels. With each push I gave to him, my hope was to help him achieve a goal and reach greater heights than first imagined. Giving my son a push back then was easy and nurturing for both of us.

Giving him pushes now…. well, not so much.

“I love you so much, but you drive me absolutely nuts!” The boy said to me as we hugged goodbye in his dorm room. “I know bay, I just want you to succeed,” I replied with my hug. “I know…but your tactics leave much to be desired…” He replied and I knew he was right. The time had now arrived for me to back away and allow him to push himself toward success.

But knowing so and doing are two completely different animals.

You see, the night before he returned to school, I let into him for his slow approach to finishing some school work, “You’re aiming for this to be one (year) and done for this school if you don’t get your head on straight!” I yelled. Instead of replying, he only looked back at me as if I was a crazy person–which didn’t sit well with me. “Why are you wasting time sitting on your ass? You should be writing your professor about the paper and….” I continued to badger him.

Of course, I had good reason to be concerned…when he put all sorts of worry into our heads at the end of his first semester of school…

“Mom, I’ve decided to turn in my report unfinished…” He texted me the night before the report was due. “What?” I replied. “I’ve been wracking my brain trying to finish this report and I’m one article down. But I’ve decided to let that one article go because otherwise, I’ll be up all night and unprepared for my other exam tomorrow.” “Bay, how much time were you given to complete this assignment?” I replied. “That doesn’t matter. What matters now is having peace of mind to study for that other class. Mom, I’m not happy with these turn of events, because I like going to school here and I want to stay here. I promise next semester, I’ll work harder on staying focused on deadlines…”

He also arrived home hoping to finish up his class observations at two area schools (he failed to complete at school), only to be thwarted by winter weather, resulting in an Incomplete grade for the class.  So you see, the mom in me kicked into overdrive and began to push the immovable object that is him and together we were disappointed in one another’s traction.

****

Last week I sent him a text asking if he’d finally received his grades for the first semester. His father and I were beginning to wonder if they were really bad considering his standard reply was always, “They haven’t posted”, whenever we asked before. But this time he sent me an email; a copy of his official report card for his first semester of college…. Two A’s Three B’s and the Incomplete which he’s currently working to finish.

I guess my role as the pusher has finally come to an end… and I couldn’t be more happy or proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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a hard year….

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Who would have believed, last December, as I wrote my year end wrap up, I would find myself struggling to write my daily blog for much of this past year? I certainly didn’t. I began this blog in 2010, partly as a way to document my children’s growth from elementary school into adulthood and partly to give myself a creative outlet for my desire to write. I’ve often told people, “I’m not creative-I can’t draw a straight line or dance particularly well. But on occasion, I can spin a yarn or two.

Then this year hit and that ability to spin yarns became increasingly more difficult. On occasion, I had a great story to tell, but more often than not, I struggled. Even when I took some time off, to clear my head, I struggled to find something worthwhile to write about and no matter how many times I tried to come back, I found myself staring at the screen and wondering why I was torturing myself or you, for that matter.

Of course, I had help in failing. My aging laptop whose ability to recharge is at odds with the power cord needed to supply said charge; gave me a great excuse to step away from the blog circuit. Add to that my frustration at possessing fat fingered thumbs and fighting my phone’s predictive speech patterns, which at times left me wondering if this was all one big subliminal message (to stop writing completely) instead of finding an actual point?

Back in the days when I took care of Mary Alice, there was a three hour window where she would pray for her family members. As such, this gave me three hours to write my daily blog without worry. Well, those days are long gone and my need to stay “present” and engaged with my charges, takes all the energy I can muster through the day, which unfortunately, leaves me fairly drained by the time I arrive home.

But in the spirit of a hopeful 2018, let me at least attempt to get back on track with this one… here goes…

2017 was a year in which three great things happened in the boy’s life. 

1)He turned 18

2)He graduated High School

3)He left for college

2017 was a year when these three great things happened in the doll’s life…

1)Her friendships forged the year before, remained and better yet, grew exponentialy

2)Her brother left for college….

3)The long promised puppy finally entered her life and she’s a really good “Mom”.

in 2017, three great things happened in my husband’s life

1)He fulfilled his dream to buy a vacation place in/near Myrtle Beach, SC

2)His son left for college

3)He filed paperwork to retire in three years (God help us).

and for me, 

1)My son reached 18 without too many scars. I was told by many classmates how much they all loved him and he’s a good kid–which four years earlier I wondered if anyone his age would see his worth.

2)Four months after the loss of our rescue terrorist, I kept a long held promise to my daughter. Though I had deceived her, adding two years onto the original promise, all was forgiven when we brought home “Luna” the crazy Eskimo/blue heeler mix.

3)My husband and I now have a vision for our future. While time is always in flux, at least now we have some hopeful directions to follow.

Of course, there were many more than three catalysts for change we all experienced, but for the sake of the argument, these are the brightest of highlights. Moving forward as 2018 unfolds, I do hope to find the desire/energy and time to come back and write, or at the very least, to throw a photo up to be seen now and again. But, in keeping with my Mean Mommy Memoir status and applying a standard Mom Reply,  “We’ll see…”

Until then, have a wonderful and hopeful New Year. May the light of love find it’s way to your doorstep and fill your lives with joy.

Marsha, Mike, Dylan, Doll and Luna

Soap and water…

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My son is home from college for Christmas break and while I’m happy he’s home, I have an inkling, he’s ready to go back. You see, he found himself in a bit a trouble toward the end of the school semester–running out of time for projects. In fact, one text exchange with me basically said, “I could continue to make myself crazy and try to finish the project in the limited time I had, or let it go and begin studying for the next exam…” Two guesses which one he chose…

Since he’s been home (Saturday Dec. 16), I’ve also taken him to task for not bathing. At school his chief excuse for not doing so was “I don’t have enough time…” Which translates into, “I sleep to the last possible second before class begins, so I can’t get that shower in before and then afterward, I’m to busy doing other things-some required, some for fun, to do much more than just fall into bed at the end of the night”. I asked him what his excuse yesterday is… “You’ve been home all day, playing video games… surely you could have found a moment to wash in between segments, right?” “I just don’t think about it…” He truthfully explained. “Perhaps maybe you should… I offered.

Yesterday, I accompanied him to get a hair cut, but since he’s eighteen, I really no longer have a say into how long he wears his hair. However, since I am paying for the clean-up, do get to offer unsolicited advice. As the woman began cutting his greasy overgrown hair she remarked, “You have such soft hair…” Realizing he would have to reply he said, “Well, honestly, I haven’t washed my hair for a few days–sorry…” Unfazed by his reply she countered, “That’s okay. Not washing your hair everyday, contrary to societal norms is actually good for your overall scalp and hair follicles,”. Seemingly before she had even finished that thought, my son shouted, “Did you hear that mom?” Smiling along with the other patrons and stylists, I replied, “Yes bay, I did. But she’s talking about your head…not your body…” He audibly grunted his disapproval at my reply, but turned his attention back to woman cutting his hair.

On the ride home, he asked, “Why is my showering so important to you…?” “Well, stink issues aside,” I began, “I’d like you to be successful. You see, when you’re interviewing for a job, you need to look clean and prosperous. If you don’t shower and clean, they will see a slob in front of them, not someone eager to positively influence their children. In addition, you must not like your friends too well because you’re not being considerate or respectful to them. If you can’t clean yourself for you, keep clean for them..” A small grunt came from his direction in reply, but I honestly believe halfway through my reply, he zoned out. Instead, the grunt was a more critical response toward me (can’t she just stop?) rather than an understanding of my point of view.

****

Day three since he’s been home..still waiting for him to shower… “I will….” He tells me when asked and I’m sure he will, just not positive it will be any time soon (Maybe by Christmas eve?” ).

name shmame…

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My son has never been known as one who remembers names. My coming from a large family really didn’t make much difference as he would ask, “Which one is that again?” whenever one of my siblings approached. As my husband once remarked, “He doesn’t know your name, because he doesn’t care to…” What’s in a name anyhow?

Talking with his cousin Carolyn at Thanksgiving the other day, my son knew a few things…. She’s his uncle Bill’s youngest daughter, who lives an hour west from his current college residence and she’s going to be opening a new restaurant in the very near future.

“I understand you’re going to open a new restaurant soon…” He began. “Yes, yes I am…” She replied and then described a little about the type of food they would be serving.  Then my son cut to the chase. “I’m going to be in Columbus to attend an Anime convention with my friends…” He began. “…maybe we could stop to eat at the restaurant…” before adding his caveat, “This is a little awkward tho, we’re all really poor…”

Carolyn, seeing where the conversation was heading offered, “Well, Dyl, I can’t comp or give away that many meals, but if you come in I will set you up with some good appetizers. I’ll treat you well…”

Smiling in return, my son replied, “Thank you…. uh…. This may sound a little awkward too… What’s your name again?”

I might add, my husband was sitting next to him at the time and gave him with a WTF? look.

Meanwhile, his cousin Carolyn began to laugh hysterically, which allowed the boy to laugh, apologize and claim his ignorance for remembering names. She in return, once she caught her breath, told him it was okay… and gave him a hug in return.

My brother told me the story the next day and I simply dropped my head and laughed. What else could I do?

Carolyn’s sister Cori informed me she asked Carolyn to repeat the story several times over because she found it hysterically entertaining.

All the while, we all accept the boy for who he is faults  (bad memory for family members names) and all…

 

 

Homecoming…

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img_3682By the time we picked up our doll and her friend from the dance, they both looked spent. “Did you have fun?” I asked and they both concurred while adding, “But I am so tired…” “Spending all day in preparation of the dance, can do that to you,” I offered and they both grumbled in reply.

Once home I asked, “So how was the dance?” and my doll shrugged. “and that means?” I wondered. “I had a fun time,” She replied. “And Braeden?” I asked. Shooting me an awkward look, she replied, “Considering he brought a date…I think he was fine,”. Yes, my worry about the boy who asked to attend as friends was for naught. He brought an old friend who seemed to occupy his time very well. “How did that make you feel?” I asked and she shrugged again before replying, “I mean, I think its fine and his date was nice–they’ve been friends since like third grade. I just feel bad for another friend of mine who likes him and he turned her down, preferring to bring his friend instead and then hang out with rest of us.”

A little while later I asked, “Did you see “J” there?” She replied with a small, quiet-hard to hear, audible “Yes”. “Did you talk to him?” I asked. “I said “Hi” to him, but he was busy talking to Brittany all night”. She added. “Hmm, well it’s his loss,” I replied. “Whatever,” She replied. “Doll, some day he’s going to see the nice beautiful girl whose had a crush on him and think, Gee why didn’t I ask her out and you know what? He’ll have missed his chance,” I tried. “See, you have to call me “beautiful”, that’s your job. I mean, look at my pictures, I have one eye that’s larger than the other, I have an uglier than normal smile and I just look awful,” She replied.

“What have you been drinking?” I asked her and she shot me a dumb look. “Here, look at this..” I said handing her my iPhone, tuned to my Facebook page. “Look at all the people who are calling you “Beautiful” here–and many are not even related to you…” I paused while she looked over the pictures I posted earlier in the day, with all her friends before the dance. Then I began again,  “I understand all too well, how easy it is for one to only see their own flaws. So, if you won’t take my word -for calling you beautiful, take theirs… and get off the flaw wagon.”

After she handed the phone back to me I added, “Oh and as for “J”,  it truly is his LOSS. Don’t let this “crush” continue to crush you, okay? And one more thing, if he goes to play with your hair again, ask him, “Do you mind? or What are you doing? and begin a conversation with him. Otherwise, regardless how cute you find his gesture, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed by him over and over again. Stop.”

“Geez Mom, I wasn’t expecting a lecture from you right before bed,” My doll offered, before leaning in for a goodnight hug. “I wasn’t expecting you to be so self deprecating. Doll, you truly are a very beautiful girl–and the way you look on the outside is like icing on that beautiful cake. Just continue being the nice girl who attended a dance with eleven dates. I mean, who else can say the same, hmm?”

The more things change…

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Aside from Cheetos’ stained fingers and a slight stink emanating from his overgrown head full of (greasy) hair, I can most assuredly tell you, when he enveloped me in one of his patented hugs, I felt complete again. It was as if a part of me had been missing this last month. Of course, much of this is true, considering, while at college, the boy had been aloof, completely detached from his parents and not really caring that we were curious about his classes and dorm life. Leading up to our first visit, my husband and I shared several conversations concerning his short college career thus far…

“I never thought I would internalize his new life (away from us) as a stressor for me,” I told my husband and he concurred, “Who would have thunk this kid held so much worry for us?” He added. “Who would have thought, considering how much this boy likes to hear himself talk, he could be so quiet?” I replied and we both grunted in unison. “Well, now we know, we need to force the issue and get him a phone, instead of relying on his iPod,” My husband confirmed as we agreed to terms on a new cellphone plan.

The first thing we did as a family was to drive to the nearest Walmart and send him immediately to the bathroom to wash his face and hands. Then we spent the next few hours replenishing his supply needs, getting him a haircut, a couple pairs of shoes and lunch, not to mention catching up on how well school was going for him. “I’m tired all the time, they keep us so busy…” he relayed. “How’s the job hunt?” I asked. “I didn’t get one job as an assistant in the theater department, but I’m waiting to hear back on the other two,” He replied. “Bay, you need to make an effort. Stop in the office and remind them you put in an application. Keep your mind fresh in theirs,” I tried to reinforce and he thanked me for the good ideas.

“Have you taken advantage of the Rec center and gone swimming?” His father asked. “Not yet…” Bay replied and then offered his plausible explanation why. “There are days I’m laying in bed and think, ‘I should go swimming…’ but then I realize, I have to walk down three flights of stairs, followed by a walk down a very steep hill, only to walk up another steep hill to get to the Rec center. Then I’d have to do the whole thing over again to come back and I’m exhausted just considering the idea”.

Yes, that’s my bay!

Shortly before we left for home, he showed me his grades,  acquiesced and took responsibility for why he was struggling in one class. “This is my fault. I keep forgetting to bring the right materials to class, but I’m working with the teacher to rectify this and am confident I’ll get the grades up by the end of the semester,” he said. “You do that…write notes to yourself if necessary…” I said and he smiled, “That’s what my counselor told me to do as well…” Nice to know we are all on the same page–I thought.

He also made a point of introducing us to his new friends (who he mobilized to help carry up his groceries, so we wouldn’t have to)  and told us about the different clubs and organizations he had joined. But, when the time came to leave, we exchanged hugs and well wishes, turned and exited his room. I stood there for a moment, expecting the boy to accompany us to the dorm lobby, to see us off.  Instead, his door remained closed. Looking at my husband I said, “Well, the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Which prompted all three of us to quietly nod in affirmation.

 

 

cheetos…

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When I entered the building, a student informed me I was not allowed to go up to a student’s dorm room, without a student present–which at the time made perfect sense what with today’s lock down, need for safety and privacy world. So I waited.

and waited..

and waited…

and waited some more.

My husband, who had been impatiently waiting in the car with our doll, parked the vehicle and offered to exchange places with me. “I was told I could not go up to his dorm room…” I explained and he replied, “Okay”. I in turn, walked back to the car and opened  my phone to a text message he’d sent the night before that read, “I’ll meet you in the dorm lobby between 9:30 and ten”.

“Mom, where’s Dyl?” The doll asked from behind. “Any number of places…” I began, “Except where he should be,” I finished. Looking back over the few texts he has sent me since leaving for college. Taking in a deep breath I said to his sister, “I can’t believe I haven’t seen him in a month, and already I want to kill him…” She smirked and said, “Keep taking those deep cleansing breaths, Mom”.

****

A few weeks back, after not hearing one iota from the boy I sent a text which read, “You need to do a better job of communicating with your parents…” His reply a few hours later read, “I’m sorry to have left you so despondent, but I have a shit ton of work to do here”. Leave it to Dylan to make me laugh even when I’m mad at him.

*****

When my phone rang, I found my husband relaying how he said screw to the rules and went up to the boy’s dorm door and began pounding until he answered. “Oh dad, I didn’t hear my alarm…” Was our son’s reply. Ten minutes later, the both of them emerged from the main lobby doors and there he stood, all 6’3″ of my son, arms outstretched, calling my name and then enveloping me into a stinky, albeit welcoming; hug. “Mom, mom, I’m so sorry. I had plans to wake up early and take a shower, but overslept. So now you get to see me how my teachers see me every single day…” He relayed and I tried not to cringe on his details. As we pulled apart I asked, “Dyl… were you eating Cheetos this morning?” Looking back at me oddly he replied, “No, but I was last night…” then he looked down at his right hand, where his fingers were the distinct color of Cheetos dust. “Oh, I still have Cheetos on my hand…” He began, before raising his hand to his face and said, “Oh, I still have some crumbs on my face too…”

Forcing me to once again, try my best not to cringe at his details.

*****