For months -- and I'm ashamed to say just how many -- I've been just "getting by," due to the stress and strain of all that goes into getting a homeschooled senior through that last year of high school and into college. I've become that mother I once looked down on. You know the one. The one who is late everywhere, or missing entirely because she forgot the meeting, or didn't hear there was a meeting, or who has to ask three times for the location of said meeting, or who has lost that paper vital to whatever the meeting is about... Yep. That's me. Let's not even discuss what That Mom's hair and make-up look like. It is hard to believe I was once considered a Type A personality and an overachieving marketing manager at the managerial level in a globally significant accounting firm. I was known for working small miracles, and with partners who were considered hopeless. My consulting rate (last time I consulted) was $xxx an hour. But throw three school-aged kids at me and I'm a babbling fool.
In technical terms, what really happened in my brain is that the static of a constant To Do list running through my head finally zapped my Random Access Memory and disabled my Operating System. True story.
What happened in my heart was that I was so fearful of screwing stuff up that I succumbed to Analysis Paralysis. Check your Merck Manual. It's a real thing. What that looks like is a lot of hands waving in the air (and not in praise!), a lot of empty threats about what will happen if this paper doesn't get turned in by such-and-such time or if errant teen doesn't text "safe" or "here" upon arrival, plus a whole lot of repeating myself, a dollop of hair standing on end, and a whole lot of frustration -- on all sides. In my case, it was exacerbated by the fact that there was really noone else actively involved and I felt like it all fell on me. I did ask for help sometimes and sometimes, I did receive it. So maybe that feeling wasn't entirely accurate.
How did I arrive at a place so far from my nature?
I can only guess that "fear" is the answer. I hovered, annoyingly and ineffectively. I nagged. (Yeah, again, annoyingly and ineffectively.) I gnashed my teeth. I lost sleep. I cried. I gained weight. LOTS of weight. I neglected my other children and my parents. I didn't garden. I didn't clean my house. I didn't do my One Year Bible Readings that I so wanted to do.
I learned to say no. Which was probably the only positive thing that came out of the entire school year. And with my newly established identity as "Loser Mom," my nos were very convincing. (Who wants to put the person who loses everything in charge of anything? I should have thought of that before.)
I simply and sincerely felt like I had no time physically, emotionally, and spiritually to do anything until the details of the boy's graduation and pathway to college were established.
Well, now those things are done. That first boy baby I cuddled in my arms and danced with all night, singing "You're Mommy's Special Baby" to over and over is now a high school graduate, as of June 6, 2014. He is an 18-year old with a car and a job and an acceptance letter to a great college. I really haven't fully digested that.
But there are other important things I would like to say about my boy.
1. When he bumps into me in town, he immediately comes and hugs me, no matter who is watching.
2. Part of his college decision was based around his desire not to be too far from his grandparents, as they enter their 80s in the next few months and he doesn't want to miss important time with them and he feels he can be useful to them.
3. He thinks his slightly younger brother walks on water. He honestly thinks he is just such a good person, and he goes to bat for him every chance he gets -- even on dumb things, like his desire to avoid a haircut. ;-)
4. He would walk barefoot across fire to help a friend. Seriously.
5. He insists that we ask the blessing at meals, even if I forget.
6. He still comes and sits on my lap sometimes. Not because he needs it, but because he knows that is who I am and that I need it.
Probably, I could've come up with a good solid ten, but those are the things that were in the forefront of my battered and bruised heart. Or maybe I should say "battered and bruised pride," because Pride, regrettably, often dictates what I do. I say pride because I hate that I didn't perform on a higher plane this year. I really do. But parenting, thankfully, is not the same as other careers. As a mom looking at the end of an 18-year job contract, these outcomes are pretty doggone terrific, in spite of myself. I raised an individual who will make choices for himself. I will not love all of those choices, but I will love the heart that made them. For it is truly a thing of beauty.