February 2, 2021

A Lad update & bonus: 'Take my car and shove it' rant

 I've often considered writing this post but I wasn't sure what to say, or how to start.

The day after my b-day I got a text from a woman (so tempted to say 'girl' here but she's a grown up) who I used to babysit for. I assumed it was a belated b-day wish. It wasn't.

Her ex-husband had killed himself the day after Christmas. They have 3 young children ages 5-7. Their marriage ended a few years ago, but they'd been handling parenting responsibilities together. They were committed to their children. She and I usually get together once a year. She brought the kids here for taco night in February '20. Then we got caught up during a 2 hour conversation over the summer while I chilled in my murky, but refreshing Raccoon-Infested spa. All seemed to be going fine. 

She texted that her ex suffered from depression. No one knew how bad. It was a shock. My heart breaks for them. 

I couldn't help it. My mind went to dark places. Where was Lad? What was he thinking? Did he feel alone? Would he ever agree to sit down and talk through things with us? 

Don't get me wrong. Lad isn't suicidal. As far as we know. That's the thing though, what do we know? What if he chose to make an impulsive decision because of whatever issues he is struggling with? He hasn't been diagnosed with anything, but we suspect Borderline Personality Disorder.

My mind couldn't relax and be assured that he was fine.

Backing up the bus:  We invited Lad for Thanksgiving, then for Curly's birthday, Dec. 19th. We told him he was welcome for Christmas. We suggested he stop by to see Coach's family (the less judgmental and more fun side) the day after Christmas. 

Always no. And by no, I mean there were scathing words. Accused us of barely attended his water polo games his senior year. This was a slap in the face - a reminder that his version of reality was far from ACTUAL reality. We attended most of his games that year.  

It was exhausting. 

Ed pointed out that if ever there was a Christmas to miss, this was it. There were no family gatherings when Lad's absence needed to be explained, except the one we hosted and Coach's sis and bro already knew that something was going on, but his other siblings are out of town as are his idiot parents. They know nothing. 

We plowed through the days and weeks and months. Lad texted Coach regularly demanding money that we 'owed' him. He wanted 'his' stimulus check, but he was still a dependent when we filed our taxes so he wasn't getting a check. We offered to help him with some financial stuff if he'd just come and sit down with us. 

He refused.  

A few weeks ago, the doorbell rang. Reg went to the door. He called out to me:  


I was holding a baby. My knees buckled. I tried to convince myself that it was going to be OK. Whatever it was, it would be OK. I held onto the wall in the front hall and tried to breathe as I made my way towards the door. 

Hi there. Your neighbors have complained that you guys park a car on the driveway that blocks the sidewalk. You can't block the sidewalk. 

I nodded. Said something with a mouth as dry as the Sahara. Motioned for Reg to close the door. I made it down the hall and back to the couch where I slumped and shook for several minutes. 

Late at night, Tank didn't bother to adhere to our new parking methods. More like Coach's new parking methods. I don't usually drive this car, but when I do I'm not all that careful with the damn sidewalk. Arrest me.

My legs were weak the rest of the night. I was mad. People with nothing to do in their miserable little lives have to call the police because they can't haul their asses around the front bumper of our kids' car when it's on the driveway? Of all the stupid things! I told Coach I was going to borrow Curly's sidewalk chalk and write "If you're the ass hole who called the cops, get a life." 

I was jealous. This is someone's biggest gripe. 

I get that blocking the sidewalk is against the rules. Don't get me wrong. Please don't point out to me how essential the sidewalk is. Loads of people walk in the street when they approach a crowded driveway (or just because they prefer the street) . . . there is not much traffic on my street AT ALL. 

A cop at my door. Bad timing. My mind jumped to conclusions. 

The kids aren't seasoned enough to park it at the VERY end of the driveway in an attempt to not block the sidewalk. This is Coach's handiwork. If I ever get the nerve to write my handiwork in a chalk message, I will share a photo of that. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote Lad a letter. Sent it to his work. The gist:  we miss him, we support him. I apologized for the mistakes I made as a parent. I wished I'd seen things more clearly. 

Lad learned to take my negative attention growing up and the more he pushed my buttons the more irritated with him I became. I'm not proud of this. It hurts my heart. All I ever wanted to do was be a mother, but I feel like in many ways I failed him. 

It was the perfect storm. Coach worked too much. Lad was picked on at school. He came home and picked on the little kids. I hollered at him and lost my patience. He always ended up with the crap teacher - while Ed ended up with the perfectly patient teacher who adored him. I could go on. 

This sums it up:  we drove Lad to college for his first year in New York. He was transferring as a sophomore. We stopped in Boston for a few days. Lad had been an ass all summer. Unbearable. Mini was his biggest target. Boston was miserable. He walked behind us. Refused to be in photos. Sneered at us. We dropped him off at his new dorm. 


I missed it. Again. I didn't get that he was wired different than my other kids. Kept things bottled up. Acted out instead of verbalizing stuff. 

On the day we assume he got my letter, he texted Coach. He just wanted us to know that he wasn't going to be opening any mail we sent to his work. We still believed he'd read it. 

It was long . . . are you surprised? (there's much more, but if I didn't divide it this post would be twice as long. Sorry to those of you who'd rather power through and read to the end. There is quite a development that happens in the next installment in case you fear more of the same. I'll post it tomorrow. Thanks for reading, I know this was long). 


Suzanne said...

This is all so hard. I'm sorry you are all dealing with this and I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Beth Cotell said...

Oh, Ernie! I hope and pray that Lad knows how much you truly love him and that you all get the help you need. Being a mom is simultaneously the best and worst job ever. No matter what you do, it still feels like not enough. Continuing to pray for you all.

Suz said...

I've been thinking of Lad and wanted to ask, but was afraid to 'poke your wounds'. You know?
He is wired differently, but who knows when you're in the thick of it? You both did the best you could at the time. He's gotta (at some point) stop blaming his parents for everything in his life and move forward. People can get past some of the most atrocious abuses and can still be a good human.
BUT, I get it that your heart is hurting. I will continue to lift your family in prayer; hoping for a good relationship.
And yes, damn those who called the popo. If it really was an issue, why didn't they just walk up to the door and say so nicely? People ARE weird.
I'm so sorry about your friends' husband; depression is so scary.

Kari said...

Oh, my heart aches for you because I understand this on so many levels. I felt that doorbell ring. I am glad it was only the neighbors calling but for real. UGH.

My prayer is that he is getting what he needs and wants where is now. If that isn't with you guys, I hope he is safe and loved. I will keep praying that for all of you.

But as a mom, I know how you feel. I feel it alongside you. It is normal to sit in guilt and think, "should have, could have, would have". But it's the past and there isn't anything you can do now. You and Coach are good parents. We do what we can with what we are given in this life. That is all you can do.

I am sending you all so much love. I will keep Lad and all of you in my daily prayers.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- This is hard - something I never could have imagined in any of my mom-worry zones. Never occurred to me. There is so much more. Hate to burden you with a reading assignment - but tomorrow's post has more.

Ernie said...

Beth- I think he knows how much we love him. There is just so much 'stuff' getting in the way. I do sometimes wonder if he hadn't graduated in the middle of a pandemic if things would've gone this way.

You make a good point - best and worst job . . . had never considered that, but I really do feel like that is the truth. I feel like I did SO MUCH right, but I can't let go of the stuff I wish I'd done better.

Thanks for praying for us. That means a lot.

Ernie said...

Suz - You can always ask me for an update. For a long time the only news was the same ole same ole - he sent us manipulative texts. He wanted money. I met a woman whose daughter has BPD (I already knew this woman - she taught Tank flute lessons, her kids were on the same swim team as ours, we go to the same church, she's a lovely person - anyway a mutual friend suggested I reach out to her because our journey sounded similar to hers with her daughter). She and I spoke for 2 hours on the phone before Christmas. She shared a lot and listened to our story. She's been a great resource. Coach and I meet with a therapist she recommended on Thursday to pick her brain about how to communicate with him or respond to his manipulation.

I do think I did the best I could. Ed swears I was the best mother, but I am quick to point out - I was the best mother for him (and the other kids) but Lad needed something different. Something I wasn't picking up on. I do understand that it happens. Things are much clearer in hindsight. I can't continue down the 'if only' path. It's too draining.

Thanks so much for praying for us . . . we believe very much in the power of prayer and I've never prayed more in my life. You will see tomorrow that the prayers are making a difference.

Oh my gosh - that day with the police at the door. Everything flashed before my eyes. It was awful. People are knuckleheads. It is illegal to park on the street overnight. I suppose we could just hire a valet who runs out and shuffles cars for us. I'll do that right after I call my personal chef and let them know how to prepare my salad this week. ;)

Ernie said...

Kari - I do think I should win a trophy for surviving THE WORLD'S WORST NEIGHBORS EVER. Right? Whoever made that call almost killed me. I would love to post Curly on the driveway this summer to poll people as they walk by: DOES IT BOTHER YOU TO WALK TWO EXTRA STEPS AROUND THE FRONT OF THE BUMPER OF THIS CAR? I'm sure people would be honest.

I think it is interesting that you mention what he is getting while he isn't with us . . . tune in tomorrow for more on that.

I do feel like Coach and I are good parents and we got SO MUCH right, but it is impossible not to fixate on the things we missed or messed up. I was good at coming to Lad's rescue when the mean boys ditched him in their plans to dress as the four horsemen. I made him into the four horsemen on his own, damn it. But he needed more.

I do so appreciate the prayers and support. We have grown a lot through this experience and learned so much about ourselves and our kids and parenting in general. Funny how I see things on social media or on the news about parenting advice . . . was it just that I didn't have open concept and didn't see the news when my kids were little? Where were these books and these interviews with experts?

Gigi said...

Oh Ernie - my heart hurts for all of you. Continue to reach out with love and patience; reminding him you are always there when he is ready to figure out a path forward - eventually the message will work its way through. I so wish I had the magic words to fix this.

I can only imagine the terror of seeing the police at your door.

Keeping you all in my prayers and sending hugs.

Ernie said...

Gigi - Thanks so much for your kind words. We have so many resources that we consult to see how to proceed. We've learned to tune out the nonsense. Your prayers are most appreciated. At the risk of giving you assigned reading homework, tomorrow's post has much more of the story.