Ah, Children….

Kids. You know those squishy bundles of joy that keep you sleep deprived and constantly on-the-go? Well, maybe some of you don’t have the eternally busy, non-sleeping kid or kids. If that is the case, you’re lucky! Me? Not a chance! Juston, my handsome, almost 20 year old, was a busy, adventurous, non-sleeper type (when he was young, that is). When he was little, if we were lucky enough to get him to sleep without much ado, then it was almost guaranteed he would be up in the middle of the night or up with the chickens, as my grandma used to say. (Up with the chickens is really, really early, in case you didn’t know.) He sleeps just fine now, but his adventurous, on-the-go personality has not diminished one bit. At least he’s reasonably responsible.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, December 2009

I love this kid with all my heart, but I am more convinced than ever that kids are here on this earth to destroy you, or at least rip your beating heart from your chest. And they are very good at doing so. At least mine is. I know, I know-that sounds harsh. I’m not hating on my kid or kids in general, or saying they are terrible, on the contrary, but they will do or say things that will stick a knife in your heart and slowly twist.

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Presidio, San Francisco, CA

Parents, or at least the good ones, are always there for their kid(s). My ex-husband and I only had one. He [my ex] would have had more, but he needed a different wife to have them, so we had one. Juston is a funny, bright, stubborn child, or should I say <gulp> young man and I am here to tell you he breaks my heart A LOT. Not because he is mean or hateful, but because, like me, he is independent (usually) and he likes to be out and about doing things and at 19 years I’m not the most important thing on his mind. I get it.

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Walt Disney World, 2012

When his dad and I separated in 2013 he was upset, naturally. I left the house, which was a difficult decision, but my ex was the money-maker for the entire marriage and I felt it wasn’t fair for me to keep the house since he paid for mostly everything. So I got a two bedroom apartment thinking I needed a room for the kid. Well, I guess I was wrong on that! We had weekly dinners on Wednesday’s and I cooked him all different kinds of foods. We took trips together to visit family in PA and to St. Augustine, FL. He attended school at UNCP, a college about 45 minutes away and lived at home with his dad. This was a good transition from high school to college and for the change in our family structure. It gave him a chance to mature and get a feel for what college was all about. And it saved money. But he never once stayed over at my apartment or the house I live in now. It’s ok I guess, just not what I envisioned.

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Senior Prom, 2013

In January he transferred to Appalachian State University. Fortunately, his dad and I are on pretty good terms so we took him to school and got him settled in to his apartment as a family. Here is where he started killing me! Everything seemed fine when he first moved away. We texted a little every day and he called once a week to chat and for advice on various things you do when you live on your own (cooking, laundry, that kind of stuff). Then things went downhill. Juston was very sassy on the phone and stopped responding to any texts. Boy did that hurt! You do everything for your child-everything-and this is how they treat you?!? It’s been rather touch-and-go since then and I’ve backed off considerably. I don’t care to be treated like that by anyone, let alone the child I birthed. He surprised me around Valentine’s Day and came home unexpectedly. We had a great visit and talked about how he made me feel but it hasn’t always helped and sometimes he’s still really sassy.

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St. Augustine, FL

Recently he was home on spring break. I asked if he wanted to take a short trip somewhere like FL, to which he replied he “wanted to stay home and rest.” I’m not sure why he needed to “rest” exactly; I don’t think his life is awfully strenuous. Ok, then. I did manage to talk him into going to Wilmington for the day and we had a wonderful time! We visited Airlie Gardens, where I used my new membership card for the first time, walked on Wrightsville Beach (I was pulled over by an officer for driving through a red HAWK light on the way there), and ate at the Melting Pot.

Funny story about the HAWK light in Wrightsville Beach. As I approached the funky side-by-side light there was a lot going on at that intersection. It was in a school zone, cars were crisscrossing all over the place, the police officer was posted off to the right hand side of the road with his lights on like the 4th of July, and some dummy looked like he was going to step off the curb into my car. Hence the reason I ran the light! I was so focused on making sure I wasn’t going to hit the person in the crosswalk that before I noticed the light above my head it turned red and I sailed right through. I knew the officer was going to run me down-I didn’t drive fast or try to hide-it is an island and there are only two ways on and off, of course. I had never heard of a HAWK light until I saw the flashing lights in the rearview mirror and heard the chirp of the siren as the police officer pulled me over. I knew he was coming for me; it was just a matter of time. He chased me down like I was the driver of the heist vehicle.

The officer approached the window of my car, which was down at this time, and asked me if I knew that I ran a red light. I did know of course, but I didn’t do in intentionally! He asked if I was from around there (I’m not) and for my license, which was firmly planted in my handbag on the floor in the back seat of my car. Juston kept playing on his phone like this was a normal, day-to-day situation. I had my hands on the steering wheel and I informed him that my handbag was in the back and rolled down the window so he could see. My heart was racing! I knew I was in trouble, and the sad thing is that I wasn’t driving my normal bat-out-of-hell, Cruella DeVil driving style when I broke the law, I was actually being cautious!!!

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Dock on Bradley Creek, Wilmington, NC

 

The officer took my license back to his SUV and ran all the information he could on me. Fortunately I’m not a law breaker and there were no red flags or anything on my license. When he came back all I could think was here it is my big fat ticket! But instead he told me that he was going to use this as a teaching moment. The HAWK light was fairly new (like two years ago, I looked it up!). A HAWK light is a special pedestrian light at a crosswalk with two lights side-by-side. Apparently when they flash alternately it means you stop, look for a pedestrian, and if there is no one in the crosswalk you go. “If both lights are red you stop,” according to the officer “just like a regular stop light.” At this moment it was all I could do not to laugh, not because what he said was funny, per se, but because the way he said it was funny, as in look dummy, you’re supposed to stop at all red lights, not just this one, which I know of course. I was a little off my game is all. At least I wasn’t tearing down the road like I normally do as a Formula One driver-in-training. Juston and I laughed about it later as we milled around Wilmington.

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Wilmington, NC

 

Back to Juston. Our relationship has changed a lot in the last few months. We’ve gone from being really close to being almost strangers. I read an article on a blog I follow called Chopper Papa. I wish I would have read his post months ago. It wouldn’t have saved me any pain, of that I’m sure, but it may have prepared me for this sudden relationship change. My hope is that someday he comes back around and we can have an even better relationship than we had before. In the meantime I keep to myself and only text or speak to him if he initiates. It is soooooo difficult and rips my heart in two every time. But I have faith that he’s a good kid and someday he’ll realize that I love him. For those of you that have small or young children I urge you to spend time with them. Talk. Hug. Laugh. For the memories you are making now will give you the strength you need when inevitably they strike out on their own and need some space. Until then, enjoy every single day!