Tag Archives: Carver Massachusetts

Through the Looking Glass (gulp)

babytyping

 

My daughter recently asked me to read her college essay.

 

I was honored.  She’s a stroke of brilliance, that gal is, so I was secretly delighted. I’m not a notorious helicopter parent in the least so – as it was with my oldest son – I didn’t know a thing about it.  I wasn’t even entirely certain where she was sending it either.

 

As a rule, I keep out of the whole college thing.  Really, I do.  Sure, we talk about it and have dinner discussions and car conversations and all that jazz but I hardly embed myself in the minutia that most parents do. Why?  Because I honestly believe that if a teenager cannot successfully get him/herself into college without a parent’s help, well, then perhaps they’re not quite ready for such a massive, maturity-driven endeavor. That’s just me.

 

By his senior year, my oldest son was a classic ding dong in high school.  I love him like mad but good grief, that kid held a 22-average in Math, barely got out of bed, and made me believe I spawned Satan that year.

 

It’s easy to understand why I embrace this hands-off approach:  I was so pissed at him the whole stinking year I was ready to stand with my arms crossed across my chest and gloat like a madwoman with a slew of “I told you so”s by the time graduation arrived.

 

Cue in visual of bubble popping.  It never happened.

 

Because …

 

HE, my adored ding dong …

 

got himself into college — every one he applied to — without one iota of help from me.

 

(caution, parental brag ahead:  He then went on to throw the Irony discus at me and got himself into the Air Force Reserves as well.  He graduated with honors from there and is in his freshman year at college as I type.)

 

Go figure.  Life.  Funny, right?

 

 

So here I am doing the college thing again.  Only this time I’m a wee more interested because my daughter is soooo not a ding dong,

 

I was excited to read her essay because as an AP/Honors/All-Around Super Student, hallelujah, I was due, man…. I knew it would be terrific.

 

I poured a glass of wine and started.

 

It began with the words, “My mother writes a blog.”

 

Um …..

 

 

What?

 

I took a hearty swig before continuing.

 

 

 

 

I won’t go into detail about the content except to say that when I finished, the swelling of pride in my heart equaled the shotgun-like-blast to my temple.

 

Hooooooo boy.

 

 

Think about it:  pick one person who knows you the most, can see your soul the clearest and well, let’s not sugar-coat it, alternates between loving and loathing you the fiercest.  Now ask that person to describe you.  Now ask that person to provide greater detail about those descriptions.

 

Talk about enlightening.  Have I mentioned the whole love/loathe thing?

 

If she sends this out beyond admissions offices, she will become famous.  I, in turn, will become screwed (although, perhaps immediately appealing to Chelsea Handler as well…  not too shabby).

 

I write about my life  and the people in it all the time  I tell what I believe to be humorous accounts of my family, I detail the days and the friends that make me frustrated or sad or joyous and, okay, sure, I rant about the idiot sports parents that make me furious.  I don’t really think twice about the content too much because – and here’s the Aha Moment – I assume that since what I’m writing is true … then it certainly can’t be … wrong.  Right?

 

The shoe being on the other foot was interesting indeed.

 

Truth is, I like it way better being behind the thoughts and words than in front of them.

 

(Loud?  Am I loud?  Really? Are you sure?)

 

Yikes.

 

 

Of course the piece was brilliant.

 

I never had a doubt.

 

 

Like ’em, follow ’em, share ’em:  www.facebook.com/eyerollingmom   http://www.twitter.com/eyerollingmom   http://www.tinadrakakis.com

 

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The Other Other-Woman

 

 

Two people toast with red wine at dinner

 

 

Last night I shared a glass of wine with the other woman.  We sat across from each other, not quite knowing how to proceed, not quite certain who should go first, not quite adept at morphing a previously computer-screen-correspondence into a face-to-face conversation.

 

 

 

I could see why the love of my life was drawn to her.  We were eerily similar.  I’d gathered that from our emails.  We sounded alike…on cyber chat .  We reasoned alike.  We held the same values and morals.  Yes, morals.

 

 

 

This was no adulteress.  Oh no, not at all.  This was the woman – the mother – whose home my teenaged son had run away to.

 

 

 

He called it moving out.  But conventional wisdom would argue that throwing some clothes in a duffel bag and heading out the door without an inkling of what’s happening the next day is no such thing.  He had run away.

 

 

 

He had had it with our outrageous rules, our absurd expectations and our irrational belief that teens should be responsible and respectful on their journey to adulthood.  So — without angry fanfare or slamming doors —  my oldest child left our home six days before his high school graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

And now, on the eve of his one-month anniversary date (breathe) of life on an air mattress, his preferred mother and I sat in my home and shared some shrugs.  And Pinot.

 

 

 

 

 

The situation, as an understatement, was hard.  Devastating, in fact.  It was the ultimate in rejection for a mother:  a child that doesn’t want her.

 

 

 

And I didn’t pretend to understand it.

 

 

 

I didn’t understand it because it didn’t follow the script of a Lifetime original movie.  There weren’t any “I hate you”s or abuse or betrayal or Meredith Baxter Birneys.  We’d been navigating the typical insanity that comes with adolescence and (insert back pat here), actually thought we were doing damn good so far.  There were boundaries and consequences and forgiveness and laughter and acne.  Nothing too strict, nothing too lenient.  Having survived our own teenage years in the ‘80s of New York, gawd, if anyone knew about pushing the limits of youth, it was us.  Fully aware of setting standards and precedents for the three kids that followed behind, my husband and I rolled with the teen madness.

 

 

 

Never had we imagined our rolling would come to a screeching halt.

 

 

 

At first we waited.  He’ll be back, we reasoned.  We hadn’t allowed him to take his car – surely he’d have to get back and forth to work.  But no.  He relied on his friends and – we’ll be dammned – they came through.  So far, for an entire month.  Well alrighty then.  Interesting bunch, those teenagers.

 

 

 

The other mother contacted me immediately.

 

 

 

She lived a few blocks away.  I explained to her my son did not get kicked out of our home, that this was all his own doing.  She has two teenaged sons herself.  She understood.  She said she’d keep me posted on events as they occurred and thus our cordial relationship began, allowing me to become privy to more details of my son’s life than I’d even known when he was in my own home.

 

As far as shiteous situations go, I had stumbled into a remarkably awesome one.  This other mother was sharp.  Gave him an early curfew and chores and expectations. Boundaries.  Consequences.  Hmmm.  Weirdly familiar, right?

 

 

 

She admitted she couldn’t come up with a logical excuse for – after four weeks – throwing him out.  He was the consummate house guest:  polite, obedient and respectful.  In truth, she really, really liked him.

 

 

 

Yeah.  We get that.  We do, too.

 

 

 

She talked to him daily about the value of reconnecting with his family and told him she just couldn’t  understand why he wanted to go through this without them.

 

 

 

Yeah.  Same here.

 

 

 

 

 

Still, we put a positive spin on things for the sake of the kids and silently pray that he comes to his senses and (cue in cheek-slap from Cher), snaps out of it.

 

 

 

I haven’t sat idly by, though, hand-wringing and despondent.  With the situation seemingly out of control I did what any other mother in my position would do:  hauled my ass into therapy.

 

 

 

After a full debriefing her assessment was unsurprising:  I was a reasonable person trying to reason with an unreasonable adolescent.  She said that since my son was not relying on me for anything the situation was most definitely out of my control and I should let it go.

 

 

 

Let it go.

 

 

 

Let it go?

 

 

 

Let go of a child?  (He is a high school graduate, she reminded. On paper, an adult.)

 

 

 

But…..but….but…..

 

 

 

But nothing.

 

 

 

I plunked down a few co-payments for a few weeks but eventually started to space out my visits.  She was wonderful but hearing a therapist tell you something you already know is not exactly cost effective.  My girlfriends do it for free.

 

 

 

So there is no happy ending to this cautionary tale, unless one looks at the (okay, almost amazing) relationship I’ve made with the other mother.  We talked for hours – and not just about my son.   It was obvious:  having met under different circumstances, we’d likely be good friends.

 

 

 

 

 

She is giving him a safe environment to straighten out his head and I am giving him the freedom to figure it out.

 

 

 

I am without explanation as to why my son is attempting to assert his maturity in the most immature way imaginable.  And it is unfathomable to me why he needs to go through this – or anything for that matter – without his family around him.  And it is crushing.  I won’t lie:  it is the most crushing and hurtful and indescribable pain I have ever felt as a mother.

 

 

 

But he is a good kid and we are good parents.

 

 

 

I guess I know deep down he’ll be back one day.

 

 

 

I just wish it had been yesterday.

 

*    *   *   *

 

Update:  Somewhere in between the time this author had the courage to write this….

 

 

 

…and print this…..

 

 

 

…her seventeen-year-old returned home.

 

 

 

 

 

It was a long 47 days.

 

 

 

 

 

Ironically – it was also just as long (if not shorter) as this author’s own silent treatment to her own mother…

 

 

 

… when SHE was seventeen years old.

 

Exhale.

 

Friendvy

friendvy

 

 

One of my very best friends just received a tremendous promotion, catapulting her into a very high, very-six-figure salary range. I learned of this after she tossed me a perfect size-six pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps that she’d just received as a Christmas present from her boss.

“Here, take these, she bought the wrong size and I’m too embarrassed to tell her.”

While I inwardly chuckled at the thought of vacuuming in them – because really, where was I going in them? – I couldn’t help but notice the card of the Neiman Marcus personal shopper still in the box. Obviously had she returned them her boss would never have known. Hmmm…was I to suspect a little pity-present was happening here?

While I love her and couldn’t be more thrilled for her, it’s no surprise that such great news has caused me to reflect on my own personal state of affairs. Professionally, we worked together for a number of years (okay, truthfully, I hired her). Socially, we did happy hours. A lot. When I left our profession to begin raising a family she was beneath my middle management level, but in the past few years her ascent up the ladder has been both exciting and troublesome for me. My feelings fluctuate between “You go girl!” and “Hey, wait a minute, couldn’t that – shouldn’t that – be me?”

Making the decision to become a stay-at-home mother is one of toughest choices any woman will ever have to make, and granted, it isn’t for everyone. But standing by and watching a former colleague crash through the glass ceiling is pretty profound by any standards.

Foregoing a corporate career is not something I regret, but there are some amenities that I miss occasionally. Recognition is the biggie. I take my job very seriously and may do it exceptionally (er, most days), but not much gets noticed on a daily basis. On my best days, beds get made, kids get fed and I’m wearing make-up. On my worst, bills get paid (really) late, yesterday’s make-up will do, and there’s cereal for dinner. With reactions like “Captain Crunch? Cool!” my family clearly does not differentiate between my stellar or stinking days. There’s no promotion waiting down the pike for me, and no one’s going to take me out to lunch for acing the vomit virus that befell my toddler throughout the night.

It is a bitter, bitter pill that is swallowed each and every day. And there are constant daily reminders that the playing field is uneven. Routine phone calls from my husband throughout the day can set me off: out of nowhere I will suddenly become incensed that I must pick up his dry cleaning or bring in the garbage cans from the street. Do it yourself, dammit! I want to scream. Or during the course of midday check-in if I’m asked what I’ve been doing all morning I will stifle the urge to erupt into sarcasm (Scrubbing the effin’ toilets— what else would I be doing with a master’s degree?)

I am certainly not the first woman to question a life choice and I’ll be far from the last to complain about it. But as each year passes I just can’t help but feel the pangs of jealousy and insecurity bubble within me when the passing calendar months seem to mock me: Hello, February! As of today, you have now been home exactly the amount of years you commuted to work. Or worse, Greetings April, at the start of next week you have officially been OUT of work twice as long as you were actually IN work. Still worse, Happy Birthday August, now that your oldest child is a teenager, the suits in the back of your closet will forever be Halloween costumes.

Envy comes and goes for me. Some days I want to be thinner, blonder, tanner, healthier, even more organized than a friend appears. But some days I don’t care about any of that stuff at all. For the most part I am confident and self-assured. Why is it, then, that I always seem to care about my worth? And why must my worth be measured in terms of a fat paycheck or a great designer suit? That alone angers me more than being asked to make a meatloaf.

Not surprisingly, all my driving from schools to doctors to playing fields to play dates certainly allows time for introspection, and I believe a little jealousy is healthy for friends. It offers opportunities for genuine wake-up calls. While my friend’s lawn is looking rather lush right now, reflection has a way of putting things into perspective. When she tells me how much her heart hurts because she hasn’t seen her baby boy in two days because of work, I believe her completely because I know. And when I nonchalantly remark that I’m really not that busy with four kids and would love to take on some freelance work to help her out if she’s swamped, she pretends not to hear the desperation in my voice because she knows, too. Friends have that way of knowing.

 

Trading in my blue jeans for nicer clothes would be great, and finally having some disposable income would be even greater. But would I trade in my so-old- I-can’t-remember-where-it-came-from coffee mug for a fancy cardboard cup? Could I give up the sheer decadence of driving a child to school in my pajamas? Would I be able forego a Happy Meal for an expense-account lunch? Oh yeah. One day, for sure. Just not yet. For now, on the days when I am immersed in macaroni and cheese and picking Legos out of every hidden crevice in my couch, I am going to remain insanely jealous of my friend.

And then I’m going to make myself feel better by wearing my Manolos to the supermarket and wondering what my friend and I will get for Christmas next year.