Monday, September 17, 2012

The First Good-Byes

We haven't had much time together as a whole family this past few years. First, Brooke flew off to Germany to go to school. She came home for the summers, but she was gone for two and a half years.

That first good-bye nearly killed me. Watching her walk away, suddenly very grown up. I'd like to say that I handled it as the most mature of parents would, bravely armed with the knowledge that she was going on a wonderful adventure. I couldn't bear to watch her walk through the security gates so I turned around and caught Sugar's jaw shaking. When my grandmother's jaw shakes all bets are off.

I spent a good part of the next month crying at the drop of a hat. I tried to muck out her room for her, but I just sat in the middle of her room and cried. Her room sat unpacked until we moved into the home we live in now.

Brooke is a Green Day girl, they aren't just her favorite band they mean the whole world to her. And for that first year I had to avoid Green Day totally. While enjoying a birthday dessert run with a friend of mine I broke down in the middle of Applebee's when I heard "Time of Your Life."

Yes, I did learn to handle it better. I guess we all do, we have no choice. My kids are still teenagers, I thought I had a long time to go before empty nest syndrome reared it's ugly head. A lot of mommas are feeling it right now. As babies head of to school big boys and girls and big boys and girls head off to become women and men.

It was a little bit easier to let go of Justin last year and Mystery this year because their dad is a lot closer now. A six hour drive versus half a world. I get to see them fairly regularly, and we can stay in contact. Justin and I even pass notes while he's in class through one of his projects.

Mystery, she's always been my independent one. I haven't heard a lot from her since she went to live with Daddy, but I didn't expect to. She has always been a very busy girl, only her interests have changed with age. Boys are replacing bunnies and school dances are far more interesting than documentaries with mom.

Brooke is 18, but she will be 19 at the end of October. Justin, my only boy will turn 16 just after that. The baby of the family, Mystery, is 13 until May. I was supposed to have a few more years with them, but things just don't work out the way we'd like sometimes.

They are going to grow up one way or another, and I know I can't stop it. In fact that's kind of what we've been working towards all along. What we didn't know is that my husband's little girl would need us even more than my kids did. And we had no way of knowing the chaos that her extended family would bring to us through her.

My husband was never married to her mother, in fact they were never really together. It doesn't take a lot to bring a child into this world. All of this happened a few years before I met him, and I not only knew that he had a child, I knew her mother. Better than my husband did actually. I went to high school with her, and her first husband was my ex-husbands best friend.

I came with baggage too, I met a confirmed bachelor and within a few months he was coming home to a woman, three kids, two dogs, and a mortgage payment. I had just escaped a rape attempt and was not dealing well with it. I wasn't even divorced from my ex husband when we met.

But as prepared as we thought we were, neither of us ever dreamed that her mother would be as involved in our lives as she is now. When Rose was with her, we really only had to deal with her every other week. We heard a few things that worried us, saw a few things too but once it all broke and Rose had to come live with us we got the daily version.

Rose is a good kid, she is trying to work through the things she's experienced. She's come a very long way with us too. Her grades have not only improved, but her skills testing have gone off the charts. Coming up as much as two grades a year. Her speech problems had improved as well.

But then something happens in her moms life that sends her off of the rails. Even living with us full-time, when her moms life becomes unstable everybody elses has to follow. It affects my step-daughter, it affects my marriage, and it affects my kids. We are always doing damage control for something quite beyond our ability to control. And we can do nothing about it.

I miss my husband. I miss my family. But I can't stand feeling like everything is out of control. I had to step away for awhile and clear my head. Try to figure out how to make some for of workable family among us again. I can live without my kids part time, but we still need each other. We have always worked together as a team and I hope in some capacity we always will.

We will be together again as soon as we figure out how to get things back under-control again. Ed and I talk every night, but when the subject of how to fix all of this comes up the line goes dead. No way to control another person, no way to go back in time and change it, no way to make it go away. We have to deal with it... and we know... but the how keeps stumping us.

Two of my kids are in Colorado Springs, My husband and step-daughter are back home, my oldest is back home with them but she can't live with the chaos either, so she has her own camp trailer to live in. I am 8 hours away in Arizona.

No, this is not the family we worked so hard to build at all. Not at all.

Someday I will have to forgive Rose's mother for that, but I do not think that today will be that day. Tomorrow is not looking good either.


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