Archive for September, 2013

Cutting the Apron Strings

Three weeks ago, I packed up my 18 year old (baby boy) and chauffeured him down to college on the outskirts of Chicago.  He is attending Universal Technical Institute (UTI) for the automotive mechanic program with a FORD certification.  Austin was sick with a sinus infection on the way down (a six hour journey from where we live), so I drugged him up good with Mucinex Sinus Max and he slept most of the way.  Actually, saying that “he slept” is an understatement.  He was out cold the majority of the time.  Even my singing along to the radio didn’t seem to faze him.  I had imagined this trip in my head several times in the weeks leading up to the day of our departure.  I planned to take advantage of our time together and impart all my wisdom upon him in an environment which he could not escape.  He would have to hear me out, or risk serious injury from jumping out of a moving vehicle at 70mph.  It is difficult to impart wisdom to an audience that is asleep.  I was kind of sad that he slept, but knew he needed the rest to get over the illness.

  During the time he was awake, we talked a bit about this exciting opportunity he would have at UTI.  He didn’t appear to be nervous.  He was excited to go and didn’t seem to worry about being on his own so far away from home.  We talked about how proud Papa would be of his decision to go to UTI.  I stole glances at him from the driver’s seat and sometimes saw the little boy he used to be sitting beside me.  Austin was my first born.  He was an absolute angel as a baby.  He rarely cried and always woke up with a big smile – happiness radiating out like sunshine.  He was adorably cute with his brown hair and dark brown eyes.  He never ran off and always held my hand…. He has always had a sense of empathy and compassion for others.  He truly has a heart of gold.  At times, he gets hurt easily.  He expects honesty and goodness from those he encounters.  He has struggled off and on with making sense of how cruel this world can be.  I have always felt a strong connection to him; not just the mother/son bond, but something deeper I can’t put into words.  I see bits and pieces of myself in him.  He is a reflection of me on many levels.

All Grown Up

All Grown Up

 Austin his grown up to become a good man.  Wow, is it hard for me to call him that!  He is fiercely loyal to his family and friends.  He loves and adores his younger sister (even when she is a complete butthead to him).   He seems to have learned from his mistakes and has gained some insight and wisdom as he gets older and the years pass by.  He will be nineteen next month and for some reason that is much harder for me to swallow than it was when he turned eighteen.  I am so grateful he made it through his high school years without becoming involved in alcohol or drugs.  He was never a rebellious juvenile delinquent always in trouble with the law.  I am so thankful he never gave me that heartache.  We may have had our moments when we were angry and upset, but Austin has never called me vulgar names to my face.  He has never disrespected me in that way and often after an argument, he would come to my room to apologize, hug me and tell me he loved me. 

My Baby Boy

My Baby Boy

 As the miles passed, I wondered if I had done enough as a mother (as a parent) to prepare him for life as an adult.  I wondered if I had taught him all the lessons I wanted him to know before I released him into the wild on his own.  I couldn’t help but feel I needed more time.  Does he know how much I love him?  Does he know how much he means to me?  Does he know how amazing I think he is?  Does he know how proud I am of him?  Does he know that my heart aches to think of not seeing him every day?  Does he know that I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to let him go?  As the rolling hills of Wisconsin passed by, the memories came rushing back:  The joy I felt when I found out I was pregnant;  The first time I heard his heartbeat;  The first time I felt him kick;  The relief I felt when he was born healthy with ten fingers and ten toes;  Wondering how on earth something so beautiful and perfect came from me;  The contentment I felt as he slept soundly in my arms as I rocked him;  When he was learning how to walk; The way he held his arms up to me so I would pick him up; The smile on his face and the sound of his laughter when I tickled his belly and kissed his neck;  How he sat in the sand at the playground and played with his cars and trucks; In his highchair making dinosaurs with play dough; His first pair of glasses; How he played with Legos for hours; His first day of kindergarten;  Second grade; His tears when some of the kids were mean; His dad teaching him how to ride a bike;  Watching him play football/winning the championship; Watching him play basketball and being voted MVP by his teammates; Feeling so proud I thought my heart would burst; His first day of middle school;  His first girlfriend; His first time seeing the Grand Canyon; His first time playing in the ocean in Florida; His first trip to Disney World and Sea World; His first day of high school; Getting his driver’s license; His first truck; His first accident; Senior Prom; His first heartbreak; His first job; His tears when I told him Papa was sick; His sorrow when Papa passed away; The strength I found in his arms as he held me while I cried; High school graduation; His car packed and ready to go away to college… 

 I was grateful he slept through my tears…

 If I have learned anything in my job as a 911 dispatcher, it is how valuable life truly is.  How quickly a life can be taken.  I have tried to teach my children to choose their words carefully.  Words said cannot be unspoken and those words may be the last that person hears from you.  Regardless of how angry you are at a friend, lover, family member or even a stranger – be kind.  Find a way to say how you feel without being abusive or insulting.  Regret is a difficult thing to live with.  As morbid as this might sound, I ask myself frequently if something happened to my children and they were physically taken from this world – would they know how much I love them.  Do they know that I regret all the hours I have spent at work instead of being in their company?  Do they know that even though it appears my job means more to me than anything else, it is merely a way to pay the bills to support them?  Do they know how hard it is to support them on a single income?  Do they know that I realize they would rather have time with me than anything else?  Do they know that I have to work this hard just to put food on the table and keep the lights on at home?  Do they know that I am doing the best I can?  Do they know that I carry them with me, every day, wherever I go? 

 I have gone into Austin’s empty room one time since he has been gone.  I haven’t begun the deep clean that I know it needs.  I can’t bring myself to spend too much time in there.  Avoidance is my way of coping.  If I don’t go in his room, I don’t have to acknowledge that he is gone.  I miss him though; every day.  There is a void in my heart that can only be filled by his presence.  He still texts me and calls me, but it isn’t every day.  I long to be an overbearing mother who calls all the time, but I won’t allow myself to do that.  I know he needs his freedom to find his place in this world.  I find it strange that I can’t force him to tell me where he is going or what he is doing.  I worry that he isn’t eating well (enough) and that he isn’t taking his contacts out at night (he likes to sleep with them in).  I worry that he will oversleep and miss class or get sick and not know what medication to take to feel better.  I worry that he will go on with his life and somehow slowly forget about me.  I worry he will fall in love with someone and she will break his heart and I won’t be there (physically) to tell him how wonderful he is and that time heals.  I worry he will be afraid to tell me he screwed up or ask me for advice on how to fix the situation for fear that I will view him as a failure.  I hope he knows that he can always come to me and together we will find a way to “fix” whatever is broken or messed up.  I am far more interested in finding the lesson to be learned from a mistake than judging him for screwing up.  We all screw up from time to time.  Learn from it, move on, and try not to make the same mistake twice.

 I realize this does not have much to do with my job, but this is my confession and it is sincere and heartfelt.  This is a part of my life that I want to share with you.  I love this child more than life itself and I know he is going to do great things in this world. 


Embracing the Nerd in Me

As you know, I have recently gone back to school and some of you have inquired how things are going. I am thrilled to report that it is going very well indeed! History is fascinating to me and so far I have earned three “A’s” and one “B” on my exams. I have eleven more to take; one each week. These exams are SO difficult! It is so much more than memorizing dates and battles and who won what. English is also really fun for me. I have my first essay due this weekend and I am itching to write it. My professor is extremely knowledgeable and gives really great advice in her comments and corrections when she grades my papers. She even used one of my paragraphs as a good example for the other students to view! I am such a nerd that I smiled so big it felt like I had a hanger in my mouth! And algebra isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. I still need to finish the first chapter and take the test, but I’m fairly confident I will succeed.

I have been surprised at how much time is actually involved for each class. I’m not sure I will take three courses next semester. Working dogwatch has helped tremendously with giving me time to study when it slows down in the 911 center. I have driven my coworkers crazy trying to perfect my English papers before I submit them. I stress out and sigh and growl and constantly count and recount the number of words or sentences I’m allowed for each assignment. I know, without a doubt that I make things too hard sometimes. I have such a strong desire to do well that even the “B” I got on my history test bothers me. I really want to graduate with honors. Working full time (and quite a bit of overtime) and trying to raise a teenage daughter who is extremely active in sports is exhausting. It seems like I just take a test and in the blink of an eye it is time to take another one. I’m not quite sure where the time goes.

So thank you to those who have inquired about how things are going. I have been so busy that finding time to blog is difficult to come by. I am hopeful that I will learn to manage my time a bit better in the near future. I have several topics I have started to write about, but have not found the time to finish. I would love to hear from other working mothers who went back to school. Any words of wisdom regarding how to not lose my mind would be greatly appreciated!

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