Mother-son Skype chat,
heads talking across the miles.
I can see Sweden!
Once you sign on to be a mother, 24/7 is the only shift they offer.
~ Jodi Picoult
Just finished a Skype session with Zebu who is in Sweden. He’s been there about ten days now and feeling more settled, especially after getting this issue resolved. I carried the laptop around the house so he could see the dogs and cats in their various poses of slumber and he told us of his many adventures.
The son who demanded I hold him for the first year of his life now eats breakfast paste from a tube and purposely gets lost in an unfamiliar city.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
~ T. S. Eliot
On Saturday, Wildebeest drove for six hours to come home and see his brother before Zebu leaves for ten months in Sweden. (In the time-honored tradition of all young adults, Wildebeest brought his dirty laundry with him.)
A few minutes ago Wildebeest hugged us all goodbye, loaded up his clean and folded laundry, and headed back home. He’s leaving one home for another.
I’m hyper-aware that whenever I refer to this, the childhood home we made for our sons, as HOME, I run the risk of minimizing the lives our children are creating for themselves. But I also want them to know they are always welcome here and will always have a home with Zippy and me. This is their home. We are their home. So I use “home” to refer to here and there, wherever there may be.
Wildebeest is currently on the road, migrating back to the life he’s chosen for himself. I miss him already, but will see him the next time he comes home.
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
~ Matsuo Basho
Zebu has completed two years of college and is getting ready to study abroad for the next year. He just finished sorting through an accumulation of notebooks, folders, and binders filled with paper from high school and the last two years.
He came across personal notes that made him cringe, Calculus test scores he’d rather forget, and class notes from his all-time favorite class so far, a Latin American history course.
He believes it’s from a high school English class and as he held it out for me to see he said:
“This may or may not be evidence of me cheating on a vocab test.
I honestly don’t remember.”
I honestly don’t care.
Gaining perspective is a beautiful thing.
Zippy and I are back home after helping Wildebeest get settled in his place. He’d sublet for a couple years to some friends who, while nice young men, are not the tidiest people. To be clear, Wildebeest is not all that tidy, either. However, he was disgusted by some of the mess his friends left behind. But the key word here is “some.” All sorts of stuff that elicited an eew from me didn’t trouble Wildebeest all that much. Or Zippy, for that matter.
My son and my mate have a much higher grime tolerance than me. On the Tidiness Spectrum, I’m closer to one end and the menfolk in my life are nearer the other. So for the last few days I tried hard to reconcile their places on the spectrum with my own. Was I always gracious and tolerant of our different outlooks? No. Did I maintain my cool and refrain from shrieking things like “How do you not see that this bathroom tile is in serious need of scrubbing?!” Um, no. Did we get angry with each other? Yes.
There were moments when it felt as if Wildebeest and I were reenacting scenes from his childhood. He and I have always triggered reactions in each other, and this week we fell back into some of those patterns. But. There was progress. This time around I disengaged and put down the sponge. Literally. I did very little cleaning and instead focused on the basic tasks I’d offered: painting and steam-cleaning. And then Zippy and I packed up, told Wildebeest we loved him, and drove home.
Where we arrived to find Zebu contentedly sitting ankle-deep in the dog and cat hair that had accumulated while we were gone.
Yesterday was tough for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t realize how much of a toll it was taking until late last night when I was practically giddy with happiness. What happened?
I received a follow-up phone call from Wildebeest who earlier in the day had expressed major angst and panic about a college assignment. He called back to explain how he’d managed to turn SS Catastrophe around and emerge victorious. As we talked, Wildebeest’s insights into his earlier behaviors and reactions, and my efforts to disengage from his panic, made me feel as if a heavy weight had been lifted. It was one of those Gold Star Parenting Moments.
Right after that call Zippy and I went to the high school to watch Zebu play his last home basketball game. He’s a senior this year and it’s been a disappointing season for him. He was seriously injured during a pre-season conditioning workout and ended up in the hospital for three days with a lacerated liver, and then couldn’t play for eight weeks. By the time he came back, his confidence was low and he never really hit his stride. But I’ve been mightily impressed with how he’s carried himself throughout those disappointments, and so was especially thrilled for him last night when he played his best game of the year. Talking with a relaxed and happy post-game Zebu felt like an absolute gift.
So that’s how my emotionally difficult day ended on a giddy note. As we got ready for bed, I repeatedly told Zippy how much better I felt; I was like an awestruck little kid taking out a shiny new toy to inspect over and over. I couldn’t stop staring at the Happy.
We all make our own happiness in this life, I can’t create it for my children and they aren’t responsible for mine, but it sure feels good when those positive feelings overlap and we’re all basking in the glow.
. . . but you can’t make him drink.
(This message brought to you by Parenting Lessons I’m Still Trying to Learn.)
** (photo from OpenImageBank.com – Wildebeest at a river in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania)
I'm this side of exhausted.
image from morguefile.com
Thanks for asking, though.
It starts out like this:
image from morguefile.com
And somewhere along the way, turns into this:
image from morguefile.com
We just survived an incredibly difficult weekend
and are all more tired than usual but (mostly) intact.
Here's to a new week and a fresh start.
I'm trying to keep this in mind:
Children begin by loving their parents;
as they grow older they judge them;
sometimes they forgive them.