Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Leaving Our Kids Behind (A Very Personal Post)

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
I am dreaming of France. My husband has a countdown and we are scheduled to fly to Paris in 45 days, but sometimes I wonder whether it will happen.
My biggest worry isn't about what I should do with the crystal candle holders or the salt and pepper shakers.

My greatest fear is that my kids aren't ready to face life on their own.
Oh, they're old enough at 25, 24, and 21, but so many times they turn to us for help or with questions.
Right now, I have a twitch in my left eye, and my stomach is roiling as if I might get sick as I sit and worry about one of my boys.
They both decided to travel this weekend, Tucker heading to Detroit, nearly 3 hours away, for an art show, meeting a friend who goes to school there. On his way home, as the rain began to fall and the wind picked up, he topped a hill and saw a pile-up in front of him. He slammed on the brakes and swerved to the left toward the shoulder of the road, but a car was already parked there. His car continued to travel, eeking between the median and the parked car before it stopped. Heart racing, he called to tell me about his near miss. He stopped by today after work to give us a hug and further regain his equilibrium. The almost accident had shaken him up.

Spencer visited his old college this weekend. His friend had a birthday,and he needed to celebrate with him. I asked him not to go. Every time he goes, something bad happens. Last time it was a rear-end accident, not bad, but he got a ticket and although the person's car had no damage, she filed a claim for a soft-tissue injury.
"It's not going to be like that this time," he promised.
And, although he forgot to text me when he arrived at his friend's apartment 90 minutes away, he texted on Saturday morning to let me know that all was well.
Today, Sunday, Earl and I had planned a day packing up things in the house. We only have two more weekends and one of those is the holiday weekend. We need to prepare to get out of our house.
But first, we went to buy some new shoes for Earl that he can take to France, a pair of slip on casual shoes and a pair of hiking boots. As we moved toward the checkout counter, my phone rang. Spencer said that his car had been towed. He wanted to know the license plate number so he could check the impound lot.
I didn't know the license plate number, but the insurance card had the ID number for the car. I texted him a picture of the insurance car.
"How much do you think that will cost?" I asked Earl as we drove home.
"More than $100," he said.
Spencer got his first paycheck from his new job last week. At least we wouldn't have to pay for it, but that wasn't how he should be spending his money.
A few hours passed as we sent and received texts from Spencer. Then Earl called to talk to him. He'd been drinking all afternoon as he tried to find his car.
I walked into the bedroom and called him. His voice was slurred and he inhaled deeply on a cigarette as we talked. I felt my blood pressure shooting up.
How was he supposed to find his car if he was drunk and how would he drive home if he did find it?
I read him the riot act.
"You are forbidden to go to Athens again!" I told my 24-year-old. "You apologize for making bad decisions and then you go back and make more."
He stumbled over his apologies.
"We're going to have to take care of it," I told my husband. He called the campus police who said only three towing companies tow from on campus. My husband called all three. None of them had towed the car.
We had to face the fact that his car, a 2014 Honda Accord which we purchased in May, must have been stolen.
We called him back and told him to sober up, report the car stolen to the police department and get on a bus back to Columbus.
Then we waited.
The bus left at 5:40, would he be on it? Had his phone died? He didn't text. When we called, it went to voicemail, but only after ringing, so it must not be dead.
Finally, just a few minutes before I finished writing this, I got a text from him. "Still can't find it." 
"Can you call?" I texted back.
He sounded better but still confused. He had missed the bus. There's another one at 5 in the morning, but how would we be sure he was on that bus? We couldn't risk it. He had to keep his new job if we hoped to move to France; he needed to be home.
Earl offered to drive to pick him up. An hour and a half both ways. It's cold, but it isn't raining or snowing. But it's dark and it will be late when they get home.
I know this isn't a happy post about moving to France, but it's probably my greatest fear about leaving. Some of you might say to let him to figure it out on his own, and if we weren't moving to France, maybe we wouldn't save him. But if he doesn't have a good job and his own apartment, leaving on our adventure becomes much harder.
And I realize that it isn't his fault if the car was stolen, it's the getting drunk in the middle of the afternoon when he should be dealing with the incident that bothers me the most.
Part of me thinks that our departure will be the moment our kids grow up once and for all, knowing that there isn't a safety net here for them. They'll sink or swim on their own. Please, God, let them swim.
Since Spencer called, my stomach is no longer in danger of losing its contents. I'll be happy when I know that Earl has him safely in the car, but my eye is still twitching. Maybe it will continue until we get on that plane to France, in 45 days.
Update: As Spencer was walking to the police department, he decided to check one more parking lot and found his car -- not stolen, not towed, just parked in a place he didn't remember. I'm not sure if that is a happy ending, or just points to more worries about my kids.
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.


Suzie Tullett said...

With two sons myself I fully appreciate your concerns. I live in France, one son in Holland and another UK based but working off the coast of Australia. All I can tell you is that the world is a smaller place thanks to technology. Me and mine skype and video call almost daily. They and you will be fine xxx

Paulita said...

Thanks, Suzie. Some problems aren't solved by being close, so I suppose I shouldn't let that stop me.

Esme said...

Not really an enjoyable way to spend your Sunday. I am sure they will grow up. I understand your concerns. I hope the week is better.

Mystica said...

I share your worry. I have three children living in Melbourne. We live in Sri Lanka. I worry over them, though they are 34, 31 and 28.

Sim Carter said...

Your post really touched me. My son, an only child is 24, so I completely understand how you feel. Sometimes he seems completely grown up and I feel sad that he doesn't need me anymore. Then something happens that spins that around. You're lucky you have three wonderful kids who will help each other out when they stumble and you're not there to pick them up. They will be fine, and between Skype and cellphones it really won't be so bad.

I'm glad everything worked out this weekend; I'm sure Spencer learned a lot from it. I wouldn't be surprised if it was an unconscious case of acting out, letting you guys know how much he believes he still needs you. But he really will be fine! They all will.

The truth is as Mystica indicated, being a parent—especially a mother, I think—means that worry never really goes away. Just keep those lines of communication open. Sending a hug your way.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you. The French say, "petits enfants, petits soucis. Grands enfants, grands soucis." Little kids, little worries; big kids, big worries.

Anonymous said...

I really can understand your stress levels and worries. But let me tell you, it will be ok. We live in France, as you know, and although four of our children are here with us, still at school, our eldest is in London working, before that she was at University in the UK, we have adapted and got used to having one in a different country. Perhaps 20 years ago, even 10, this might have been more difficult, but nowadays with modern communications, instant messaging, FaceTime, etc etc it really is not so bad. It seems to me our children never stop needing us no matter how old they are, their needs just change. But I wouldn't have it any other way. It will be OK, I promise xx

Paulita said...

Thanks to everyone, those who left a comment and those who didn't. I could feel the love either way. Things turned out better than they could have so we'll keep plugging away and won't let it stop our progress.
I appreciate that you took the time to read about my worries. So many people avoid admitting the difficulties they have raising kids. I'm kind of out there with it. It was so much easier when they were younger. The setting them free part I can handle, it's the watching them fall part that is hard to deal with.

sillygirl said...

The best gift you can give your children is letting them thrive and fail and recover on their own after having given them all the life lessons you can. Of course you worry and want to keep them from failing - it is wonderful that you are still in their lives to see them work their wings themselves. You are also teaching them what good parents do at this stage - you are showing them that at any age people can seek their dreams. When you are worrying take the long view as if you are seeing yourself in this game of life - laugh and have compassion for yourself.

Jeanie said...

I understand every single word you wrote, every feeling in your heart of frustration, anger, relief, concern... we never stop worrying. No matter where we are and where they are. Sending hugs.


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