The Shortest End of the Stick

(Written a week or so ago) 

Thanksgiving this year gave our family so many blessings to celebrate…my mother’s continued, renewed health, my dad’s recovery from skin cancer, the birth of Curtis and McKayla (Donnie and Melody’s miracle babies), and my grandmother’s divinely appointed victory over a lung tumor. We also celebrated Patrick’s amazing graduation from Mount Vernon and subsequent matriculation at Belmont University. Bam told me once that sometimes even blessings are hard to take. 

For me, Patrick leaving home for college has been less emotional than I expected. However, until October, I was still on antidepressants and antianxiety meds, which definitely muted my emotional reactions. During my trip across country, I decided to ramp off of them entirely. I wanted to feel like myself again, and I felt happy. Even returning home to an empty nest. I actually like how peaceful the house is most of the time, albeit occasionally too quiet. I don’t have to drag him out of bed for school as he’s cursing and throwing things. My mornings are serene. What’s most difficult now are the very few stolen moments of time I get with him. I feel superfluous and forgotten in his life mostly. I’m good for hosting dinner parties for his friends, sending Velveeta shells and cheese en masse to his dorm, and providing funds as needed. When he’s home in Atlanta, I compete poorly and unwillingly for time with him. He has a precious girlfriend and a close knit group of high school friends, all very important to him. I don’t begrudge that; I just miss him. And he’ll resent me if I force him to spend time with me. When I visit him at Belmont, I compete against his sleeping schedule. He doesn’t bother to wake up to see me. I feel so unimportant to him now, where previously in his younger years, I felt like the Earth orbiting the sun. Presently, I’m a forgotten moon of Pluto, relegated to whatever sparse rays are left. It’s my own fault really. I should have appreciated him more and spent so much more time with him in his youth. 

I tell myself that he is growing into an adult and living his own life, but it’s unbearable to think that he will likely never live with me again. That time in our lives is over. I’m selling the house soon, which is an unpopular subject for both of us. I don’t want to let it go, but financially, it’s a money pit. And he’s not even here to enjoy it, let alone help take care of it. So, the pups and I rumble around in this enormous home by ourselves. I live with the ghosts, the memories, the good, the bad, and the surly. I live with embarrassing moments and painful events that I’d rather forget and move away from. I live alone now with these memories. I suppose I could stay mired in them and this house, but I know I have to move on to be healthy, mentally and fiscally. I don’t want to leave our home, but it’s not really that anymore. It’s my home solely, and it fits me like a super size, out of date prom dress, dragging in the mud. 

I don’t want to give up the singing frogs and crickets in the backyard creek, the fireflies on a summer night, the hummingbirds and orioles, the deer, the amorous flying squirrels or the raccoon family (as long as they live outside the house). I don’t want to move away from my super kind neighbors. I don’t want to let go of the dreams I had when we moved in, of Bam and Mom and I sewing in the basement all the time (which never happened, but that’s okay), or being happily married (which didn’t work out), or filling the house with more children (definitely not an option without a happy marriage). I had those dreams once. I don’t want to move away from the memories of Patrick playing in the creek, shooting hoops, singing at the top of his lungs, drumming in the basement, or having friends over to play. I wanted him to have an amazing time in middle school and high school and mostly I think he did. That life (and potential dream life) is over though. I can keep the memories, but hopefully leave  the unpleasant ghosts behind when I move. 

Perhaps the most difficult thing to deal with, and I’ll have to ask my mom if this was true for her, is that your children go from your greatest priority (and you are often theirs as well, if not at least their main focus as far as a relationship) to a miniscule sideline event. They are suddenly their own priority, and you are no longer a blip on the radar. You feel like you don’t exist to them hardly and you don’t matter. It reshuffles the cards in your deck and then casts them all to the wind. It’s a devastating role reversal. I haven’t cried much yet, but I know that time is swiftly approaching, when the tears will build into a river. 

I don’t mind being alone. I’m glad I’m not upsetting him with another of my failed relationships. I worry that the damage was done for so long and can’t be repaired. It kills me that I feel like he avoids one on one time with me as much as possible. And I don’t understand why. All I can think is that it’s my fault, my mistakes, my shortcomings, my personality. Or that it’s just typical teenage behavior, allowing him to grow independently and become a full-fledged adult. I really don’t know. And I certainly don’t want to impede the process if it’s what he requires. 

While I was on my odyssey, I found an eloquent quote on a charming, glittery, delicate greeting card. It reads, “No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future”. The image of a  softly watercolored turtle dove in flight, a clock in roman numerals etched on its breast, with branches and flowers entertwined around its body and tail, graces the card beneath the text. I try to remember that saying when I feel abandoned. Nevertheless, I find scant little solace for my heart when he blows me off. 

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1 Response to The Shortest End of the Stick

  1. Root says:

    All kids cherish their alone time – its coming of age. Each of us go through the terrible teens and yet somehow we come back to cherish the relationships with our parents. But later in life.

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