It’s not just empty nest syndrome.¬† He’s gone.
My 19-year-old son left for his first out-of-state drive today.¬† It will take him through four states, a 9 or 10-hour drive.¬† He’s supposed to be gone for four days.¬† He left without talking to me or his stepfather about it.¬† He left without telling us directly that he was even going.¬† Oh, he made a comment the other day that he was probably going out of town this weekend.¬† But “out of town” usually meant down the interstate a couple hours to our old home where some of his friends still live.¬† He never told us that he was leaving.¬† We only found out because he told his sister, who blurted it out to us like it was no big deal.¬† He left this morning, without even saying goodbye.¬† Just walked out with his duffle bag , right in front of me.¬† Gone.
After 2 accidents in less than 6 months, I have a reason to worry about him going out of state.¬† After the lack of thrift, I have reason to worry about him having enough money.¬† After the lack of common sense he’s been showing since he quit college one week into the semester, I worry if he can take care of himself.¬† After all the lies and secrets, I wonder what else might he be hiding.
He’s not going alone.¬† His friend Michael is going with him.¬† At least, that’s what he told his sister.¬† Hopefully, that’s not a lie.¬† We like Michael.¬† Michael is lazy, but he seems to show some common sense.¬† Maybe he’ll keep our son grounded enough so that he returns back safely.
But he’s gone.
I remember when I was pregnant with him.¬† I had so much hopes and dreams for him.¬† His dad was away at army training, and it was just the two of us.¬† I talked to my son in my womb every day.¬† I sang to him.¬† I read to him.¬† When he was born, it was like he had always been there.¬† But life turned cruel.¬† His dad left.¬† His dad left him and his sister.¬† And we struggled on our own, but I thought we were doing really well.¬† And then his father died, and my son took that hard too.¬† I almost lost him then.¬† But we persevered, and he seemed to float to the top.¬†
But perhaps that was just a mother’s hopes and dreams.¬† It may have only been his reflection I saw.
He’s grown distant from me.¬† He will not talk to me about anything.¬† He doesn’t live with us, but his things do.¬† He sleeps most of the time at Michael’s.¬† That’s where I would say he lives, even though he uses our address and phone number for his residence, even though his belongings are still in his bedroom.¬† But we hardly see him.¬† And when we do, he just comes to stay and shuts himself in his room.¬† He doesn’t talk to me, unless he has to.
He went away to college, and began cutting classes within one week.¬† We only found out because he got into a car accident, and finally called us — the next day.¬† He eventually quit college.¬† He even tried to move in with his friend down the interstate.¬† When that didn’t work out, he was living in a motel.¬† He didn’t even tell us he had not place to stay.¬† He never called.¬† But mother knew something was wrong; I called him.¬†¬† And told him to come home.¬† We gave him the rest of the semester to decide if he was going to go back to school.¬† He chose to do nothing.¬† We forced him to get a job.¬† He quit that job, and then found another one — one that doesn’t pay as much, and doesn’t give him as many hours.¬†
Because of the two accidents, he had to get another car.¬† His old one¬† was my husband’s car.¬† It was only 3 years old when we sold it to my son.¬† It was in perfect condition.¬† But after the two accidents, it would not pass inspection.¬† We helped him find a car.¬† He paid for the car, but we helped him look and set up the deal and talk to the salesman and set up his car insurance.¬† But he would not take our advice and get a used car.¬† Instead, he bought a new car for about $5000 more than what the other car would have been.¬† That doesn’t sound like much, but he’s basically living off his father’s inheritance.¬† The job he has now, barely pays his car insurance each month, if it does completely.¬† It’s a good thing he can live at Michael’s rent free.¬† He could be living with us that way, but he seems to hold a grudge against me.¬†
I know it’s me that he holds the grudge against.¬† He talks to my daughter, and my husband — tells them things.¬† But he doesn’t talk to me.¬† Oh, he might pass the time of day with me now and then.¬† But he doesn’t even greet me when he walks in the door, or when he leaves.¬† Half the time, when he leaves, we have no idea if he’s coming back or going back to Michael’s.¬†
At first, I tried to blame this feeling of “losing him” on the empty nest syndrome.¬† After my divorce, I basically raised my children by myself for 12 years.¬† Their father barely paid child support, and rarely visited them–not that my son wanted to see him anyway.¬† So now he’s 19, and should be moving out on his own.¬† And naturally a mother does not want to let go.
But it’s more than that.
Yes, there is that empty nest syndrome.¬† But there’s also that feeling of dread.¬† I do not feel that he has the skills to be independent.¬† He certainly is not showing the common sense he needs, or even the responsibility.¬† He does pay his car insurance on time (or has for the 4 months that he’s had the insurance).¬† But he doesn’t take care of things.¬† And it doesn’t matter if it’s a model toy, or if it’s a lifesize automobile.¬† And he spends his money like there’s no tomorrow.
I’m not sure how he can afford the trip, other than that he’s probably spending more of the inheritance.¬† My daughter virtually has all of the inheritance that was left her.¬† My son got equal amounts, but he’s down to nearly nothing.¬† There was enough to spend on college and buy a new car and place a good downpayment towards a house.¬† But my son doesn’t have that anymore.¬† And he was aware of losing this opportunity when he decided to quit college.¬† We made him aware of that, but he quit anyway.¬† And now, someone who had the potential to make A’s and B’s will probably never get a college degree.¬† Hell, I cannot even see how he plans on moving out on his own.¬† When that insurance spends out — and it probably will by the end of the year at his rate of spending — his job will barely pay car insurance.
And he needs to move out.¬† He gives me know acknowlegement whatsoever.¬† I’m his mother, but no one would know it by the way he treats me.¬† He barely does his laundry.¬† And when he leaves to go back to Michael’s, his dirty clothes may stay on the bathroom floor for weeks (if we don’t move them into his room).¬† He does not clean his room.¬† It looks horrible, and I dare not walk in there.¬† I couldn’t for the longest time.¬† My daughter made a path so she could go watch movies on his surround system, or I couldn’t even walk in to turn off the light that he leaves on when he leaves.¬† He leaves dirty dishes in his room, and in the kitchen.¬† He doesn’t throw trash away.¬† And when we were gone to visit my sister for the weekend, he came home and had a friend stay over (which was fine), except that he pulled my dragon book collection off the bookshelf to look at them, and then left them in a pile on the floor.¬† He was his few dishes that he used while he was there, but he didn’t wash our coffee mugs that we had left that morning.¬† He said there was no room in the dishwasher, but there was.¬† The last straw was when we realized that he had left the door locked but not closed– and so the house was unsecured while we were gone.
We took his key, and he cried when he left.¬† We didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks.¬† Actually, he didn’t call us.¬† We had to call him because his job had called to ask him in early one day.¬† We made effort to invite him for dinners and cookouts, and trips to MawMaw’s for Mother’s Day.¬† But he only came over when he needed to — he needed clean clothes, he had to sign for his completed tax returns, he needed a game.
So when he called last week and said he would be coming home for a while because Michael was going to visit some family, it was a mixed blessing of hopes and dreams.¬† He came home.¬† He didn’t plop in the new furniture like usual.¬† He cleaned up after himself in the kitchen.¬† He talked to his sister, and even spent time with her at the mall and out to eat.¬† And he would join us in the living room occasionally and have a conversation with us.¬† He even started cleaning his room.
I had even talked to my husband about perhaps giving him the key back.¬† After all, he needed it to come in from work at night, but we held off.¬†
Throughout all this time, his homecoming had raised some hopes that it were possible that he and I could work up to a talking relationship.¬† But it was just another roleplaying game to him.¬† He had a secret, and he didn’t share it with me.¬† All this time he was planning a trip out-of-state and would have left without a word, except that he doesn’t keep secrets from his sister, and she doesnt keep them from me.
My husband says that was his way of letting me know — tell his sister, so she would tell me.¬† But I think that’s the coward’s way.¬† Out of respect for me being his mother, he should have told me.¬† I’m not saying to ask permission, but just let me know this was not just any ordinary day when he would be leaving to go to Michael’s.
This is how we found out about him first driving out of town.¬† He was supposed to be coming home for some occasion, and they had begun road construction outside our subdivision.¬† There was a huge drop-off between the new road and the old road that you had to drive over very slowly.¬† So I called to warn him about this, because I knew the way he drove.¬† And when I called Michael’s, Michael informed me that he was out-of-town.¬† This was back when he was still a minor, and we had expressly forbidden him doing this.¬† In fact, we had talked it over with him and told him he could go only after cleaning his room — a request that we had made for a couple of months.¬† He left and had never even touched his room.
Kind of like now — his room is still not clean, and he’s gone.
He is not making any kind of effort to meet us halfway.
We’re not being unreasonable.¬† We pay all his living expenses except his car insurance and gas when he stays here.¬† All we ask is that he clean his room.¬† When he was in high school and younger, he never had to worry about anything.¬† He didn’t have to hold a job.¬† Just study and clean your room and learn and live.¬†
When we took his key, and I saw his tears, the mother inside of me cried for him.¬† I started to reget taking that key, thinking maybe we were too hard on him.
This morning, I got up early because I knew he would be leaving around 6 am.¬† I knew this because my daughter told me of this trip yesterday.¬† He never said a word to me or my husband about it.¬† I got up, to be there when he walked out the door, to see if he would actually leave without saying goodbye.
He did, and he’s gone.