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.
A few weeks ago, the doorbell rang. Reg went to the door. He called out to me:
MOMMY, IT'S THE POLICE. THEY WANT TO TALK TO YOU.
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.
30 minutes into our drive home it hit me. HE WAS NERVOUS. ANXIOUS. IF THIS, HIS 2ND COLLEGE, DIDN'T WORK OUT - THEN WHAT? HE NEVER VERBALIZED ANYTHING TO ME. WHY HAD IT NOT HIT ME EARLIER IN THE SUMMER WHEN WE COULD ADDRESS HIS FEARS, REASSURE HIM? IT WAS AS PLAIN AS THE NOSE ON MY FACE.
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).