After 28 years of “active” parenting, this June it all (thankfully) comes to an end. I have spent better than half my life raising three sons from birth to adulthood/high school graduation.
I have attended two of three graduations bursting with pride and happiness as the first two, in 2003 and again in 2010. I will be attending another on the 7th of June, and while proud? I won’t be bursting with happiness this time around.
What is it with teenage boys that makes them lose their minds between the ages of 17 and 20? No, really.
My eldest turned 18, graduated, and then lost his mind…to the point of being so hateful that my husband tracked him down at work and drug him out to the parking lot and told him that he would not disrespect his mother in that manner, and needed to think about that before he returned to the house the following day. He had two choices; one would be to apologize to his mother and collect his belongings and leave or apologize and remain, but living by the house rules. He chose the latter, but enlisted in the armed forces and was gone within a month or two.
Middle Son waited a little longer to lose it. Once 18-19 years of age, he decided that he didn’t need any guidance whatsoever, because, you know, he was grown and all. So we sat back and watched, sometimes needing to cover our eyes, as he tried to make his way in the world living on his own with friends. We watched as he made poor choices, and stumbled more than once. Of course, this culminated, ultimately, in his unfortunate incarceration, which I have shared with you previously.
Now it’s Baby Boy’s turn to lose his mind. Yes, after seeing the older two go through it, I knew it was coming, but I really had hoped that it would have held off long enough for us to get through his graduation as a FAMILY, but apparently that was too much to ask. I probably should give him props for being the most creative, I also want to smack him, because honestly? He’s broken my heart, and what should have been a wonderful event and party afterward (we had family coming to the house from both coasts), it’s come down to this. My dad, step-mom, husband, and I are going to attend the ceremony long enough to take a few pictures, see him walk across the stage, get his diploma, and leave, and only doing that much because at some point in the future I will regret not attending at all. After packing his bags, moving out “temporarily to get his head together,” Baby Boy as pretty much decided that he is done being a part of our household. As suddenly as that happened, it probably wouldn’t have been so bad had he not told the school and his friends’ parents that I kicked him out, you know, and opted not to let him return, as I have already rented out his room. (Yes, it was a very interesting conversation with the school guidance counselor last week.) There were some other tasty tidbits that he threw in there that I won’t bore you with, but he has actually done enough to not just me (and really what he said about me was really not a huge deal in the big picture), but what he did to his own brother stuns the crap out of me. And because it IS kind of a legal issue, I don’t feel comfortable sharing those details at this point in time. Needless to say, he’s done enough that he will be scheduling a time to retrieve the remainder of his belongings from my home. (He’s been 18 since September, people, so I’m not throwing a minor out in the street.)
That said? We will be closing the book on one chapter of our lives as active parents in a couple of weeks, and starting a new one.
This one will be written around what WE, the empty-nesters-to-be, want. Once Middle Son gets back on his feet, it will be official
and the nest can be repainted, redecorated, and re-established as a Zen place. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. He had to go sometime, right? So am I sad? Yeah, I really am, but at the same time, I am looking ahead:
Scheduled dinner times? A thing of the past. If we aren’t hungry, we aren’t cooking. BOOM!
Cooking meals the kids don’t like? Oh, THAT is so on!
Learning how to prepare healthy and exotic dishes that would gross the kids out? Oh, absolutely!
Dress code? OVER!
There will be more time to focus on ourselves and our needs than being stressed out trying to make sure our schedules are arranged in such a way that we are available to accommodate every field trip, stay-after-school meeting, etc., etc., etc.
The only regret I have regarding any of this is the way Baby Boy went about it. But I can’t change it, I can’t do anything about it, and in his own words, he’s “an adult and I can’t tell him what to do.”
Can I get an AMEN?