Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up. – James Baldwin
When I started this blog 8 years ago, my oldest son was 10 years old. The same age that the ladybug will be in a few short months. He had chubby cheeks and the start of new locs and so much hope and joy. He was a 4th grader and I distinctly remember that year being one of his most challenging. Not because the work was hard, but because his teacher didn’t let him get by on his great smile and wonderful personality. I also distinctly remember the change in personality because of that simple thing. He changed, and it hurt my feelings. Instead of embracing the challenge and moving forward, he bemoaned the fact that the teacher would have the audacity to think that he was smarter than what he was putting out, and that’s when I knew that we had an uphill battle on our hands.
Now, I need you to understand that he graduated valedictorian from 8th grade. Not necessarily because he WANTED to, but because he kind of had to. Doesn’t make sense does it? We didn’t let up. It was gruesome. I was tired, I was frustrated I was angry. He spent most of his 7th grade life looking for ways to push the envelope with us, and I’m the one that ended up with papercuts. The amount of prayer, vocal chord workouts and walking I did back and forth to the school was AMAZING! I was involved. I was a caring parent. And then *I* broke at the challenge.
When Nate started high school, I think my brain just went defunct. On the outside I looked like a caring parent – and I like to think that I was, but I handed it all to my husband. He was responsible for talking to the teachers, he was responsible for email correspondence, he was responsible for meetings regarding travel with the school. I wanted nothing to do with it because my kid on the outside let me know in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want me meddling around with his life – and I accepted it. The same way that he wanted me to accept his change in personality way back in the fourth grade. Ain’t that something?
My husband loves me, this I know because he’s still here. Not out of convenience, not out of feeling sorry for me, but because he loves me and knows that this too shall pass – even if it’s taking an entire grade school duration. He pulled up to the spot that I immediately exited, and took over. This is a true sign of a partnership. He didn’t make me feel bad for putting my head in the sand, and he didn’t admonish me for having feelings. I’m not sure he completely understood what I was going through, but he continued to keep me afloat, while being present for our son when he needed him most.
I yelled a lot the last four years. A LOT. I mean, yelled until my head hurt and my eyes leaked over into a toddler-esque mess. I think I may have even gotten to a point where I questioned the day that I decided to have unprotected sex with Mr. Houseful that one time in undergrad. Ah, who am I kidding, I did get to that point, and I thought about it often. I went to blaming everyone but myself in a situation that wasn’t going anywhere soon. My son was establishing his boundaries, and instead of acting like an adult and letting him know HOW to establish those in a respectful manner. He couldn’t stay out of the house as long as he wanted, he couldn’t speak to me any ol’ type of way, no swearing, and he was expected to contribute to the caretaking of the house. He could however tell us when he felt something may not have been the best – but he had to learn how to do that in a way that both satisfied him AND us. I am not of the school that once you turn 18 you’re grown. You’re still stupid (I was) and no matter how good of a face you put on for others, your brain just isn’t fully formed.
That’s why I cherished these last two days of orientation. Mr. Houseful, Nate and I hopped into our Kia Sedona (I’ll introduce you later – stop worrying) and hit 55 south for a 5.5 hour trek to see the home of the kid for the next four years. We dropped him off at the dorm, and went our merry way. We purposed in our hearts to not be helicopter parents, and we did a darn good job. No phone calls in the morning to wake him up because he called US. No telling him how to organize his open day of handling business, he had to tell us. We gave advice when he asked for it, and only asked open ended questions to get him to a point of decision making that he felt comfortable with. He led the way during registration, the financial aid office and even when getting his computer ready for the first day of school.
I was so full of pride for him, and for the space that we were occupying at that time. For that very moment. We were all happy. We were all interacting. He was off his phone and there were no earbuds in his ears. It almost reminded me of a time when he genuinely loved being in our presence and vied for our attention. You think that your love can’t grow when they’re this old, but it does. Even when you want to wrap your hands around their necks and exert a little bit of pressure. *rolls eyes*
Love is definitely a growing up, and we’re all having a bit of growing pains in the process. We’re still growing though, and that’s all that matters. If you’re interested, we are going to be talking more about our process for getting to college, and the feelings that we’ve been having, so if that’s not your thing, just come back on Wednesdays when I do the homestead blog hop. 😉
Until I get this growing up thing, I’ll be here sharing our stories with you.