My heart began to pound so hard I could feel it in my eardrums. When I realized that this wasn’t some joke, when I realized that you were a hundred miles away from me, uncomfortable and anxious with your own butterflies beating at your chest, I had a moment of pure gratitude. Gratitude. Thankfulness for each and every morning that you and I drove from Thing Two’s school to yours, with that extra ten minutes to sit in the car and talk until it was time for you to go.
There were mornings when I was busy or when my to-do list was long, when I silently wished that once in a while you’d ride the bus. Thank God, though, that the bus comes too early and thank God that you and I both want to sleep until the last possible minute and thank God we had 180 mornings (give or take) to talk in the car about this and that and everything, and thank God you have heard me say over and over again that all you have to do when you feel like you’ve gotten in over your head is to call me. When you are at a party and somebody starts passing around a joint, when you experiment with drinking beer and feel like you’re going to puke, when whatever plan you thought you made turns into something that is not at all what you wanted, all you have to do is call me. Call. Me. Calllllmeeee.
Yesterday was like deja vu, finding out that things were not what they seemed, and that once again you were in over your head; that again you were put there by this dad, and again you had a situation forced upon you that you just knew wasn’t right. We believed the situation had changed, and I told
the internets you that this woman would never have a chance to mistreat you again. But, after months and months of her absence, you were blindsided with the news that she was on her way there. And you were a hundred miles away from home, worried that this ‘adult’ was again going to be ugly to you, or to me, or to your dad. And even with your friend saying he’d hide away in the bedroom with you so you wouldn’t have to be around her, even with the promise of swimming and boating and go carts all laid out in front of you, still you knew nothing good was going to come of any of this. You knew something wasn’t right.
So you called me.
You called me! You callllllleeeed mmmmeee. You did exactly what I said you should always do, and I did exactly what I’d been promising. We dropped everything, hopped in the car, and came to the beach. We brought you home.
You are at an age right now where you can’t wait to grow up. You think that being An Adult means that you’ll be able to do anything you want. No permission to be sought. No approval. And somehow you think that this sought after adulthood comes by turning a certain age or by acquiring certain characteristics. When you were younger, you thought it was determined by height. More recently, by the appearance of armpit hair. And of course you see the magic number 18 off in the distance.
But as your mom, I’m here to remind you that while yes you might legally be an adult when you and your armpit hair turn 18, adulting is nothing special. Everybody gets to do it just by getting old enough. It’s just a technicality. You can be an adult, but have no maturity. You can still be spoiled, or reckless, or selfish, or even downright stupid, but still call yourself an adult simply because you’re
middle aged old enough.
Nope. There is more to it than just surviving your teen years. And I suspect that you are beginning to figure that out. Probably more than any conversation we’ve had in the last few months, I think that what you saw unfold last night taught you a lot about the difference between ‘technical adult’ and real man. As your father and your friend’s father stood in the driveway blinking at each other, one having just driven two hours to rescue you from the drama, the other all red faced
from wine and defensive, it was pretty clear to you which one you plan to emulate.
You fell asleep in the car on the way back from the beach last night, but this morning you came in and curled up next to me ready to talk it out. We spent a little time rehashing the story, connecting the dots, trying to figure out when she became part of this picture again, and speculating as to why he would have invited her without mentioning it to his own son, or to us, or to the rest of the family staying in the beach house. We talked a little bit about secrets and breakups and divorces and giving second chances, and then you got quiet for a moment. Thinking something over.
You know what mom? you said. I’m grateful.
Grateful? That’s a big word. Tell me what you’re grateful for, I replied.
Well a big reason is because you came to get me. I was worried about that because I was so far away.
Silly goose. I will always come get you. I’d go anywhere to get you if you needed me. Now you know.
I’m just glad God put me in this family and not a different one. I don’t like drama. We’re just normal. It’s not stressful here. I’m thankful to be home.
I am too, baby. I’m so thankful you’re home. And I know that when the time comes to be an adult, you will be a great one.