I woke up early. It was initially Kaity’s fault, but then, in spite of myself, I couldn’t go back to sleep.
It’s weird the things that make me feel like a grown up. When one of my kids is sick or hurt, I feel like pulling on my mom’s leg and hiding. When I made coffee for the guys fixing our gutter in the frigid temps the other day that seemed like a really ‘grown up’ thing to do. Weird. I told you.
This morning I feel older than I should.
Fortunately, as I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, the song “He Is” ran through my head. Have you heard it? It speaks of God’s role in our lives by going through the books of the Bible. Example:
In Hosea, He is forever faithful
In Joel, He’s the Spirits power
In Amos, the arms that carry us
In Obadiah, He’s the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He’s the great missionary
In Micah, the promise of peace
In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He’s pleading for revival
In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our fountain
I hadn’t listened to it in a long time. I am up before 6am (unheard of for a night owl) and listening to it now. It’s full of promises I kind of need to hear.
To make a long story short, and to save myself from having to tell it a hundred different times, Josh moved out of our house yesterday. He is 18; this is not unheard of. It’s just… you know… not the way a parent wants it to happen.
Being a “young mom” of teens affords me all sorts of unique perspectives, and the one I’ve used most while raising Josh is the very detailed and clear remembrance of how much I took my parents for granted, particularly in my late teens and early 20s. Ma & Dad and I certainly did not see eye to eye on a variety of topics, and I always insisted I was right.
The other side of that is not so fun. (not that it was when I was the kid, but it’s the kid’s duty to pretend like everything is Kool-Moe-Dee).
I don’t know if I feel any differently than a ‘regular’ mom would now. As a stepmom, I made a choice to treat two kids who are technically not mine as though they are… as a stepmom part of the territory is sometimes giving more out of guilt or worry. Both the rewards and heartaches of that can be vast. And this morning, waking up knowing Josh would rather sleep in the house of another family than with his own, the disappointment and hurt is a bit intense, as is the anger, and God help me, the bitterness kind of is, too.
As kids, we take and take and walk away.
As parents, as step parents, we give and give and stay.
I moved out of my parents’ house three different times. The first was to go away to college. By second semester, I was home every weekend, and after that first year, I didn’t go back (one of my life’s only true regrets).
The second time, my disgruntled friend M and my disgruntled self decided we could hack it alone. We were 20 and clueless. We rented an apartment and it lasted 5 months. We couldn’t really afford it in the long term. Our own relationship was not mature enough to sustain the stresses of living together on our own. My parents, though I’d hurt them with my urgency of getting out, took me back.
The third time, I was 22. I had a great job and solid finances. I found a cute little affordable apartment. Two years later I bought a cute little affordable condo. And not quite two years later I got married. That series of choices is one I will never regret. I am grateful I had time on my own, to support myself, make my own decisions, and make my own mistakes with the ability to fix them myself.
I think being an adult means a myriad of things; many of them are good, like eating nachos for all three meals if you so choose. Many of them are not so fun, like having to pay for the ingredients of said nachos and clean up the dishes that are involved so that ants, bacteria, and rats don’t infest the house. They are clichés, how the grass will always seem greener… how you can’t go home again… how youth is wasted on the young.
But they are pretty darn accurate.
What I didn’t understand about my parents circa age 19 was that even though they were not willing to give me the freedom to do everything I wanted, even though the standards and conditions they held for me sometimes seemed impossibly high and definitely unfair, they were doing what they were supposed to do. It’s pretty easy to be the Fun Parent, or the Fun Aunt, or the Fun Friend, the one who allows too much sugar for breakfast and lets the kid(s) stay up too late and wear unmatching clothes…the people who play those roles don’t have to worry so much. They are not charged with the eternity of a child.
Parents are. And a hard pill for me to swallow in my seven years as a parent is that I’d rather have the kids hate me now than hate myself later for what I failed to teach or give them.
How many of us are on our best behavior when someone else, someone outside our family is around? Why do we do that? Doesn’t our family deserve the best?
When I was a kid, I remember the parents of my friends telling my mom and dad how great/polite/neat/helpful/whatever I was, and how my mom would give the typical cynical-mom response like, “She’s not that way at home!” or “Do you want to keep her?” It’s the same way for everyone. Home is where you can be your true self and your worst self. What everyone else sees is just a little bit edited for television.
Not many months ago, I was baking cookies or muffins or something for some occasion, and I started putting the broken ones aside for Rod and the kids to eat… so I could arrange the pretty, perfect ones on a nice plate for my nice occasion. And something struck me then, and I reversed them. Shouldn’t my husband and kids get the best ones?
It’s a cliché’ and a deception that the grass is always greener. It’s a deception that anyone loves you more than your family. It’s a deception that discipline is done out of spite or dictatorship rather than support.
People who love you will not nod and smile and pat your back while you fail.
And people who love you don’t run away when the going gets tough.
Mrs. Green: You work and you work and you work at a marriage, but all he cares about is his stupid boat.
Mr. Green: You work and you work and you work on a boat…
– (Rachel’s divorced parents, from Friends, season 2, episode 22)
I guess vastly different priorities are bound to lead to a break-up.