Today’s Friday feels like Monday to me. Yuck. I’m in a funk. Funky funk funk.
Last night I had crazy dreams. This usually happens at some point when I’m in a situation my mind is trying to sort out, but I was surprised because I would have said I have nothing I’m trying to sort out right now. I was in an apartment building that actually looked like a hotel but it wasn’t and I was stuck there with my former in-laws (in the name of God, why?) who were packing for a camping trip and I was holding a creamer that slowly broke into little bits, the lid chipped, then the edge cracked, then the handle fell off, then the bottom fell off and the cream leaked everywhere, then I couldn’t find my jeans to go camping even though actually no one was going camping, they just said they were, and they kept making snarky comments to me the whole time anyway, at which point I suddenly found myself hiking a mountain. When I got to the top I saw that someone was plowing away the entire other side of the mountain and as I tried to climb over the huge mound of dirt a group of activists who were anti-plowing-away-the-mountain were planning to blow up the very large plowing machine, and I was standing right next to them so I was going to get blamed for it which I was not happy about, so I ran away down the mountain. I ran down the mountain very well, hopping from boulder to boulder like a goat without falling down once. At this point I woke up, worn out, my head crooked on the pillow, wondering what the hell my brain was doing and will I ever find an off switch for the damn thing.
Exhausted, I tried to go back to sleep. Of course just as I dozed off Chunker decided it was Attack The Toes Game time. I got up to get her out of the bedroom and I’ll tell you two what, she is not stupid. She scooted under the dresser faster than I could say you little sh*t and I had to drag her out from under. I put her in the hallway and shut the door. Went back to bed. Flopped around like a dying fish for several minutes trying to get my crooked stiff neck comfortable and find some part of the sheets that didn’t feel like a humid summer day and just as I dozed off she realized she was shut in the hallway and decided to stage a protest by slapping the door with her paw while crying. OMG I can’t STAND it so I got up and surrendered. She happily trotted down the stairs in front of me, undoubtedly chanting in her mind “Kibbletime Kibbletime yayayayayay” and I groggily made coffee in the Shrine of Caffeinated Goodness, the Center of my 4:45am Universe, my greatest treasure, Cuisinart Grind ‘n Brew.
We had a nice time last Sunday for Mother’s Day – all four kids, the son-in-law and the best grandbaby and the best son’s girlfriend in the universe all came over and it was fun just to sit back and listen to them joke with each other. The twins have so many inside jokes and tales that it’s like watching a comedy movie in French, it’s funny but I have no clue what they’re talking about most of the time; all four of them have undiscovered stories from childhood which just now come to light so I always get a laugh (or roll my eyes and sigh) at the stuff they pulled. I caught a lot of high school shenanigans, but they’re talented, these four. As I can clearly remember my daughter telling the twins, “Do it, and apologize later” while I shouted “NO! Do NOT do it and then apologize!!!” it’s no wonder there are stories to hear.
A nice part of the weekend was that one of the boys whom I shall call Andrew in order to maintain his anonymity, altho he doesn’t read my blog anyway so it probably wouldn’t matter if I used his real name, flew in Sunday and stayed until Tuesday. My other three chicks live nearby right now so it was nice to have the fourth one home for a few days. It being Mother’s Day and all four being here I’ve been thinking about motherhood a lot this week.
Motherhood didn’t come naturally to me. I’m too selfish, for one thing. Soon as my daughter was born I realized it was not the All About Me Show anymore, this little thing needed me to survive and I loved her completely and immediately. But I was still kinda wishing for me time. That I was very young and in a rapidly deteriorating marriage probably didn’t help. Anyway, a few years later I had my first son – again, love at first sight! – and within 18 months of his birth was a divorced single mom with two kids and no support. Which was fine, I didn’t want anything, I wanted to do it myself and I did. But all that being the mom and the dad and the breadwinner and the housekeeper and changing the oil in the car and working 40-50 hours a week didn’t come easily or comfortably to me while trying to combine it with being a parent. I was tired, short tempered and overwhelmed. A couple years later I met the soon-to-be hubs; less than two years after our marriage I was sitting in the kitchen with two little tiny things fully dependent upon me to survive – and if one kid overwhelmed me, two at the same time had me just about in the basket. I loved them totally and completely, of course, but I was now twice as exhausted; trying to take care of those two and two kids in elementary school was now just twice as much busy-ness. Basically what I remember looking back on those times is the inside of the pediatrician’s office, the inside of the van, the kitchen, and falling into bed asleep before I landed.
Then all of a sudden they were growing up and graduating and moving out and gone. My daughter stayed in town for college and was home nearly every other day to get something anyway, and with three boys still at home I didn’t have any empty nest issues. Four years later my son went to college one state away and I was a sodden sobbing mess as I drove away. But he was home nearly every weekend and I still had two in the house so it wasn’t too empty yet. Then the twins both left at the same time, 9-10 hours away and when we’d packed the second one into his dorm and went back to the hotel where hubs fell soundly asleep I cried for two hours, cried so hard that I felt like a hangover the next day. Every single time they came home and left again, or we visited and left I cried, and I did that until at least halfway through their junior year.
What happened is that the little babies that I loved, adored and would have thrown myself in fire to protect turned into the typical teenager, which isn’t all that fun or pretty – and then one day they just up and turned into awesome people. Funny, well spoken people who will eat Ethiopian food when at one point in their life they existed on Honey Nut Cheerios and applesauce. Well-read people who converse about movies and books, who go to outdoor concerts and parties and weddings and have friends and if possible I love them even more. This is the part that I’m embarrassed to admit and one of the reasons it’s taken me all week to write: I’m jealous. I’m jealous of the people who get to work with them or go to parties with them and laugh at inside jokes. I wish I were their friend. I wish I could hang out with them and go places with them, since they are people I like. But you’re always still a mom and you can’t be a friend too, not the way you are with your real friends. Somewhere in the corner of the room the mom part is still standing there. I wish I were still central to their lives, and of course I’m not. That is the right and natural way of life. I know I’m very important to them, they call and they ask advice and we talk. However, there are things I talk to my friends about that I will never discuss with my kids and I think you’d both agree that if a mom showed up at a party on a Friday night with her 20-something son everyone would think that was a bit weird (including me).
Second, the reason it’s come up particularly this week is that Andrew came home Sunday to visit because last Thursday he was told he’d be living in Brazil for a year…starting this weekend, flying out tonight. And that’s the second reason I’ve waited to write: I’m in a funk. I’m an amatuer but I can pretty well tell you why I dreamed of the in-laws (who were there when my first two were little); why I held a creamer that piece-by-piece cracked apart and “left” me; why I couldn’t find my lost jeans for the camping trip that didn’t exist; how I ended up alone on the top of a mountain while the other side was being pushed away.
While I’ve tried to deny to myself that I’m upset, last night’s crazy dreams in Technicolor with a cast of thousands indicate that my brain is working overtime to put something back into a slot that’s apparently shorted out or full. I don’t want to be upset – it’s not like he’s in the army and going to Afghanistan – those are the moms who have something to be upset about – but I’m still near tears today. Actually I was near tears until I typed that sentence and now I’m in tears so that’s closer than near and I’m in a funk. I’m so happy for him to have this opportunity; he told me he’s already going to a BBQ this weekend with his new workmates, he’s going to see and do so many things and it’s awesome. It’s his journey now. I’m going to miss him, I wish could see and do those things too, like I used to with my kids. Like when we went to the zoo and one of my children discovered an elephant for the first time and I saw it through their eyes, or the first time they got an ice cream cone or went to the circus or rode a bike. That’s why the empty nest hurts. Not because the house is empty, but because my heart kind of is.