I’ve been putting this off for weeks: stripping beds, umpteen loads of laundry, shelves in the kitchen to be emptied and scrubbed (post ant invasion), stemware to be rinsed and put away, dry cleaning to set aside, and last but not least – tending to the hand wash. The huge heap of hand wash.
No, this is nothing special; “just life” and the many chores I’ve neglected while focusing on paperwork and organizing. As for the hand wash, I loathe doing it, knowing what it takes to get through it – patience, a delicate touch, strength, and for me – determination.
Then there’s the fact that my younger son travels home today, and the past two nights I’ve been worrying. That, following a particular conversation.
My sons are magnificent. I adore them. But they’re still teenagers – they gray my hair and drive me nuts!
This summer my 18-year old worked overseas, wandered Europe, and came home to helping out, taking my car, and nightly parties before his sophomore year in college begins. As for my 17-year old, this has been his first experience of independence, spending six weeks in a grueling academic program hundreds of miles away. We traveled together to orientation, settled him in, and I flew back the same weekend.
As for traveling home, that’s up to him, with plenty to keep track of beforehand. This isn’t a test, but then again, it will tell me a great deal about how he’s managing critical logistical details. And when we spoke two nights ago, he had misplaced his flight information, had no idea how to ship his architectural models and drawing portfolio, had forgotten that he needed money to pay for baggage, hadn’t looked into the airport shuttle, had lost his carry-on backpack… and this, three weeks after the lost cell phone. Speaking of lost, let’s just say, I lost my cool.
How not to talk to your teen
How not to talk to your teenager? Don’t raise your voice when he’s exhausted, especially if he’s coming to the trusted source – as he should – wanting help, not hassles.
Sure, I’m only human. I was tired, cranky, and his call the other night caught me off guard. I didn’t yell exactly, but my displeasure was obvious.
“You were yelling,” my older son said afterward.
“That wasn’t yelling,” I said. “That was exasperation, and it was deserved.”
“You were yelling,” he insisted. “And he’s beat, Mom.”
Then I felt terrible, naturally. I heard the fatigue in my son’s voice, and ragged on him all the same.
When he checked in with me, my frustration with what he hadn’t done got the better of me, not to mention years of this particular kid having his head in the clouds. I started lecturing, and he got angry.
“You’re treating me like a child,” he snapped.
“You’re acting like one,” I replied.
Not my finest mothering moment. An hour later I called and apologized, then sent him an email with instructions for flight check-in and other things he needed. I also asked that he keep me posted on every task, to his annoyance. Yes, micromanaging, but that was the only way I could ensure my peace of mind, not to mention the state of my wallet.
My younger son begins his senior year in high school Monday morning. He will spend tomorrow studying, after arriving home tonight. There is no slack, no time to breathe, no time to play at the end of summer. And right now, I’m focused on tasks and schedules and dependencies. I’m shoring up infrastructure, largely for my sons. As for the other night, I couldn’t seem to access the mothering that my creative kid requires.
This morning’s two hours of hand wash were a necessity. Patience, a delicate touch, strength. But my arms and fingers are weak. Soaking, swooshing, and squeezing are difficult. So is rinsing, wringing out the fabrics, and laying the clothing on a towel in the bathtub or hanging it up on the rod to dry.
By the time I’m finished, I’m tired and in pain. What gets me through is determination.
It’s afternoon. There’s one more load of laundry, the table to clear, the sink to empty, the dishwasher to run, London Broil to defrost, and a special dessert to bake. Yes – Motrin popping is on the agenda.
“On the bus,” said the first text, about two hours ago.
“Thx,” I messaged back.
“No prob, Bob,” he wrote.
“Washing your comforter. Cake for dessert tonight?”
The immediate response: “Yummay.”
I smiled. I’ve missed my son.
A half hour ago he called from the airport security line. Bags were checked, he was on time, and things were going smoothly. Meanwhile, I will wait for the text that he has landed, continue with chores and then baking, and remind myself that exceptional kids require patience, a delicate touch, and strength.