Call me crazy…

I have, from time to time, toyed with the idea of regretting my decision to be a stay-at-home mother, a professional mother, a mother for the ages.  This hypothetical regret is so very fleeting, and so very banal that it doesn’t even sit in the back of my mind.  If you ask me, I will tell you immediately and unequivocally that I have loved being a mother, and that I consider my dedication to my children, the most important thing I’ve ever done…

I actually no longer feel that way.  I feel like I made a terrible decision, and I failed miserably.  And, no, this is not a flight of whimsy, a “oh, poor pitiful me” moment.  This is a resounding call from deep in my gut.  This is like a stone bouncing violently against the walls of a deep and wide metal container…clank, clank, clank…

This is not about J.  I fail J every single day, and I know it.  I am at peace with this because parenting an individual in the Spectrum, as I’ve mentioned many times before, very much like Sisyphus and his rolling boulder.  More often than not, I am run over by the boulder, recover, chase after it, and then start up again.  As they say out there: it is what it is.

My issue is with TGG.  Our issue.  We are all pretty much overwhelmed.  Dada and I spend so much time trying to figure out TGG that we have realized it’s taking time away from J.  That, in of itself, is a clear indication that something’s gotta give.

We have been, as far as parents go, far from perfect.  We’ve tried to be encouraging, understanding, supportive, loving, caring, patient, all while trying to foster in our children a sense of self and the proper environment for maturing at the proper pace.  I’ve made Halloween and theater costumes; I’ve not missed a single performance, parent-teacher conference, doctor’s appointment, summons to the principal’s office.  I’ve kissed boo-boos, dried tears, said “buck up and try again” when needed.  I have been very responsible as a parent; I’ve taken this whole process seriously.  I married a man who takes it seriously, too, and if we have been stern from time to time it’s because we have had to be.  We set curfews; we grounded people (yes, even J…not that it worked particularly well,) and canceled privileges.  We also struck a balance between the practical things and the fun things.  We’ve always encouraged our kids to talk to us…even if we don’t like what they have to say (or sign.)

In a very broad sense, TGG has been an awesome kid.  He never really got into trouble with the law, although some neighbors once called the cops to say he had thrown an egg at them.  The laws of physics proved to the cop the improbability of that having happened.  Another time, some friends who were in the car with him pointed a BB gun at other vehicles, and the cops were called.  They were quickly caught…because TGG drives like a little old lady.  The other kids, who had previous legal issues pending, were carted off, and TGG and J (who had just been picked up at school) were sent home with a stern warning.  There were several instances of underage drinking that we were not particularly pleased about, and we certainly didn’t go easy on him then.  The cure for that was pretty much turning 21.  There was the pot smoking we never caught him doing, but being former young people we clearly recognized, and that, too, went away.

The main problem with TGG is that he hardly ever finishes anything.  What he finishes, he finishes with the least amount of effort possible, and with the least stellar results imaginable.  TGG barely graduated from high school; the class that almost sank him?  BAKING!  TGG almost finished his EMT certification course.  He choked on the next to last test…and that was the second time around taking the course.  (When I say choked, seriously, he was totally overconfident and underprepared for the test…and once you failed a test for a module, you were out like yesterday’s leftover fish.)  He did finish his Medical Assistant certification course, and he passed his test, but…his grades dropped vertiginously once he “fell in love.”  That romance lasted six weeks and resulted in one grandchild…

We didn’t kill him when we found out, via misdirected text, that he was about to become a father.  We were understanding.  We were caring.  We were patient.  We were supportive.

TGG loves his kid.  His son, though, is not a priority, and -worse yet- he’s not a driving force in TGG’s life.  TGG hasn’t yet understood that having a child changes your life, and that you have to start thinking like a grown-up and make difficult decisions.  TGG still wants to have his cake and eat it, too…

When TGG decided to go back to school to start working towards a degree in Nursing, he was motivated, and we were thrilled.  We paid for his classes and books; we told him not to worry about rent or household expenses so that he could switch to a job that would accommodate his class schedule without putting too much strain on his finances.  We helped him reorganize his room, and we made sure he had the clothes he needed for his new job at Target.  During the time when he wasn’t yet getting paid, we made sure he had gas money.  We made sure there was dinner served for him when he got home.  We took over all the things he used to do with TGG.

And then…

He has fallen in love.  Every single person in the planet deserves to have someone who loves them, and who they can love.  Every single person deserves happiness.  Good judgment often flies out the window when it comes to these things, and it certainly has in this particular case.

TGG has “fallen in love” (and other things) with a very young single mother of two.  When he’s not at work or at school, all he lives and breathes is this person.  She is the center of the universe because she is “patient” and “nice.”  We, on the other hand, are demanding and he doesn’t know how to please us.  We explain to him, ad nauseam, that we want him to study, to work on getting a decent footing before he starts running into the future like a desperate linebacker during the Super Bowl…and without a helmet.  But he’s in love.  He’s getting two Ds, one C and an A (in very basic classes, mind you…this isn’t even Nursing coursework,) and he doesn’t know why this is something we might be worried about.  He had to take the entrance exam to the Nursing program…he dragged his ass for months, and then he passed everything but the Science.

He doesn’t understand what we “want.”  He doesn’t know what he could “do” to make us stop worrying.  I’ve stated my position clearly: it’s time for him to move out, face the world as it is when your parents aren’t there to catch you when you fall, and learn a little bit about what it takes to be what we are: grown-ups.  He thinks, bless his soul, that I’m bluffing.  The fact of the matter, and hate me if you must, is that I am NOT bluffing, and I am ready for my partially-empty nest and a little more peace of mind.  Rather, I am ready to worry about him from a distance, without actually seeing the way in which he thinks everything will work out just right if he just lets things happen.

Am I wrong?  Am I a bad parent?  Am I being mean?  Am I too old-fashioned?  Am I positively medieval?  Is it ridiculous of me to wonder how two twenty-somethings with children from failed relationships can jump so very quickly into a potentially child-inducing situation?

This affects J.  I know it shouldn’t, but it does.  J loves his brother.  J misses his brother.  His brother has barely given him a second thought in the past few months.  TGG spends more time with the girlfriend and her children than he does with his own kid.  Am I stupid to think that this is just not right???  Didn’t he learn from the heartache his father caused him with similar behavior and attitudes?

Our suspicion that he has Asperger’s is being solidified with each passing day.  There is a disconnect there.  There is a lack of emotion.  HE can’t seem to read the signs that we so clearly put out…so very clearly…oh, so so clearly.  He’s just baffled by our frustration and disappointment and concern.  Last night I blew up and told him I’m done, and I mean it…I can’t risk a stroke like my mother had at 56 and my brother had at 55.  I have J to think of, and TGG is, after all, a full-fledged adult…

Any thoughts?????

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At long last, I resurface…

Greetings, one and all!

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been lost and not really missed, but I’m back.  It took almost a month, but I have all my ducks in some sort of row (not a straight or well-behaved one,) and I have time to sit and talk to you.

First and foremost, J is doing well.  The Band-Aid Fixation continues, but we now spend more and more time without the wrist stabilizer or the band-aids.  On one particularly happy occasion, we not only didn’t have the band-aids or the wrist stabilizer, we also forgot Slinky in the garage for about three hours.  I had to remind him that he’d forgotten…a joyous moment and a d-oh! moment all rolled into one.

A few days ago we visited our trusted friend, Dr. Psychiatrist.  J was well-behaved and happy throughout, and we discussed removing J’s med completely.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is about to happen…well…as soon as we run out of the med and refills already on queue.  We are thinking Christmas will be, to put it mildly, interesting.  I am sure that there will be some jolts and bumps to navigate as his body lets go of the very last bit of added chemicals, but that’s the way it has to be.

With every passing week the end of J’s life as a student gets closer.  There are 229 days until the last day of school…of those only 128 are actual school days, and we haven’t factored in snow days, or early release days.  The clock is ticking, and it’s neither stopping nor slowing down for our benefit.  The days of J as a student are numbered…

Yesterday we received this year’s version of the graduation announcements.  I thought to myself, as I looked at the envelope, “at least this is the last year when I will cry when I get this.”  We all know, because I make no bones about admitting it, that this is all very bittersweet for us.  J’s school picture, the last one ever, was absolutely spectacular.  He has finally mastered the art of smiling for the camera without looking like a boxing glove is going to come out and smack him.  We hung this version next to the framed proofs for his first school picture ever.  The contrast is marked: on the first a tiny, nearly-bald, skinny kid looks confusedly at the camera, and in the sixth frame you can tell he’s just melting down completely.  They never sent us the actual picture…they just gave us the proofs.  We framed them.  They’re so…J!  Next to it, a portly, handsome, hairy young man smiles gently; his goatee leans to the right and his eyebrows look unruly, but he is handsome and he’s loving the attention.  We’ve come a long way, baby!

Attending graduation is out of the question, of course.  J could not possibly deal with the overstimulation involved in hundreds of students doing a processional and then sitting through a ceremony that won’t last ten minutes.  Needless to say that the cap and gown won’t be his favorite thing to wear.  An alternative must be concocted out of thin air, then…something that will be ceremonious enough to mark the end of an era and the ushering in of a new one.

I’ve suggested the So Long, Farewell song from The Sound of Music performed by teachers, aides and admin personnel, but I don’t think they are keen on learning the choreography, wearing the costumes and leaving the room in any semblance of order.  The end-of-school-year picnic his class celebrates every year will have to do, but I think we’ll try to throw something in there to make it a clear message that this is J’s last ride with his class.

Our family is undergoing changes.  Some of them are less dramatic than others.  We are starting to look, in earnest, for a house to buy…or, at least, for the type of house in the type of neighborhood we’d want to settle in for the next fifteen years or so.  We are hoping TGG moves out soon; this might be a tricky thing to achieve because he is not really concentrating on school as he should (he is “in love”,) and he makes barely enough money to pay for the things that are obligations.  We, the parents, feel the effects of aging…the creaking, cracking, impatience, etc.  Acid reflux has become “a thing” around these parts, and we see it getting worse before it gets better.  That J is almost out of school is the biggest change of them all; that he will be out of school and med-free is an even bigger change.

I confess to you, as I have to Dada, that I am not torn about TGG finally moving out.  I am really looking forward to it, in fact.  That is as close as I will ever get to having an empty nest, and it’s taking very long in getting here.  TGG, at this point, needs to go off on his own, and learn from his mistakes, and I am totally ready to close the door and wave bye-bye.  It may sound mean of me, but sometimes we don’t let our kids grow up because we are there to fix things.

My situation with J is the absolute opposite, and yet it’s the same.  While I am anxious about the prospect of no school forever, I am also looking forward to seeing where we go from here.  In a lot of ways, I feel more confident about J hitting his stride and maturing more smoothly than TGG has.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ve always pushed J more because J has more hurdles to overcome, and TGG doesn’t see that we’ve been exceedingly nice and patient with him…and takes advantage of it.

But I’m not here to gripe about TGG.  I’m here to tell you that we are doing fine, and that we are moving forward.  I promise (or threaten?) to not stay gone as long as I have recently.  It’s just life, you know, and acid reflux…and 24 year-olds who don’t quite “get” why their parents are impatient with the choices being made.

But I’m here…it’s all goodish.  You’ll see…