The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal. Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again. My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports. And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart. We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.
I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.
They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.
My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts. My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.
My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.
My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.
That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.
I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back. Not fun for either party involved.
Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.” And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore. But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt. I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base. Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?
I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite. Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”
But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?
I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try. So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen. There is no ‘normal’ here. Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds. We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash. I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you. I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo. You know how completely unorthodox I am…”
My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom. We like you that way.”
*Happy dance* They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together. But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…
It’s been pretty intense around here, with all the soul cleansing and growth, the changes inside and out. Like finding seashells along the shifting tides, I was too wrapped up in my discoveries to see the signs.
Still, I knew something was off. I felt the shift in his manner, his voice, and the way he looked (or rather the way he didn’t look) at me. The realization hit me like a 2 x 4 yesterday morning and gave me a raging headache. I couldn’t let this sit and stew. I had to do damage control – and fast. Please bear with me as I get this out in words, because apparently my verbal skills need some work.
I woke up this morning and felt really, really awful. Sick, but not physically. It was more like my heart and soul had collapsed. I didn’t have it in me to get out of bed, and for me, that’s pretty bad.
I panicked because I realized I had forgotten something very, very important. What made this oversight even worse, was that I couldn’t remember how long ago that I had begun to forget.
Sometime between the ages of 15 and 16, I would guess. Maybe even before then. Perhaps it was it when you started with the teen-tude or buried yourself under texting and Facebook. Maybe it was when you started rolling your eyes or put your emotions on permanent lockdown when I went off on my “informative lectures.”
My love started to fall under the guise of teaching you the “rights” and “wrongs” of life and somehow I made you feel less than the perfect person you are. You did things your way, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted more from you, but I didn’t take into account that you had your own issues to process – issues you came into this world with, along with the normal, everyday teenager stuff.
The only difference between the issues you and I are processing is that yours are new and mine are old. Yeah. Mine go waaaay back, but I’ve been flinging them at you when something set me off, and I didn’t realize that until just now. I reacted with anger when you showed me lack of respect. Feelings of worthlessness screamed when you ignored me when I talked. I felt inadequate when, even though I gave you 200%, you complained about it and still wanted more. That’s all recycled stuff from a different decade, bleeding from my past into your present.
Whether intentional or not, I had ignored the distinct sound of disconnection when you tuned me out. I fought hard to pull you close when you fought hard to push me away.
During that battle for control, I believe that is when I forgot to show you that I love you. As a writer, I should know this one. I could tell you I love you until I’m blue in the face, but it won’t have the same impact unless I put action in place of those words. When you stand four inches taller than me, I see the man you are becoming, but forget that you still respond better to hugs than to words.
Today you take your pretest in Tang Soo Do, and after that you are only a few months away from your black belt. You could never have gotten this far had you not been determined, focused, and talented. You are a force to be reckoned with, and I couldn’t be prouder of you.
So now I will start once again to build the bridge between us. I’ll teach my lessons through examples and laugh a heck of a lot more. I’ll be sure to draw the line between my issues and yours. I’ll untie the cord around your waist and give you room to stretch your wings. Not that this gives you a carte blanche to do whatever you want, but this will allow you express yourself and be who you need to be without my issues holding you down.
I hope that by letting you go, you’ll find your way back to me.
And I promise…I’ll remember to never forget.
Your biggest fan,