i know what parents must feel like when their kids leave home to be 'adults'. i know, it sounds silly. my high school guidance counselor always did say mom and i had this role reversal thing going on. but after my step dad died in 2003, my mom tried hard to maintain. she woke up, she went to work, she ate pepperoni and peanuts for dinner.
so we started going over every night after work, awesome husband and i, to cook dinner. mom wasn't ready to leave the comfort of her bedroom. i would lie on my step dad's side of the bed next to mom, watching wheel of fortune and smoking cigarettes. awesome husband would sit in a chair next to the bed while i made dinner. mom and i ate on the bed, he ate on his lap in that chair.
mind you, we had an entire house. there were a table and chairs downstairs. we ate dinner in her bedroom.
mom went to california to visit her sister and awesome husband and i moved in. we switched all the rooms around, surprised her when she came home. for mother's day, we bought a new fridge because i needed more freezer room. and the fridge in the kitchen was from like 1972. we were all together on the upper level of the house: awesome husband and i, my brother, my mom, our bedrooms all lined up like a proper family. we took care of each other.
we took care of my mom.
six months after we moved in, awesome husband and i finally got married. my father and mother walked in together. a good time was had by all (i'd like to think). i invited dad over for dinners, he'd invite mom out with us when we went out. we were a not a 'normal' or 'proper' family by any fucking stretch of the imagination.
but we were a family.
after a couple of car accidents that rendered me unable to work outside of the home, my mother losing her job, everything just changing - we picked up and moved to florida. our family was broken again, but it was our doing this time - we were growing up, becoming 'adults'. learning to live on our own. my brother and dad in new york, mom, me, and awesome husband in florida. my mom decided to sell her house in new york. my brother went off to grow up and become a brooklyn hipster who listens to better music than you - no, don't bother telling us what your new favorite pocket band is. he. listens. to. better. music. than. you. - and stop eating meat.
mom moved to florida so we could continue on our communal living adventure, we bought a house with a pool and a two car garage....
... and then mom decided to unfurl her wings and fly to california.
and it was one of the hardest years of my life. i mean, we had fun without mom. playing poker, drinking, naked pool parties, jello shots... good times, good memories. but i was just escaping. i started working from home for extra money. i thought about using again and was afraid when i was prescribed painkillers for a really bad bladder infection. i thought about not drinking anymore. i thought about killing myself. i thought about my mom. i thought about how after years of not having her because of my step father, after having him take her away from me, i finally had her back and i needed her. i remember just the thought - the stray, errant thought - of my mom dying would send me into a spiral of fear and shaking and terror. literal terror. i could not even contemplate the thought of life without my mom. surely, i would just kill myself because i couldn't live without her. i tried to be 'grown up' and not let her know how bad it was. that i slept 14 hours a day. that i didn't shower most days unless awesome husband made me. that i cried for her. i was 27 years old and crying for my mother.
through an odd string of events, my mom ended up coming home. we had her room ready for her, painted the color she picked out ("i don't remember it being so pink" she said). of course, she reorganized it immediately. she lamented the fact that she'd never been on a cruise before and booked one for us - just my mom and i. we scattered my step father's ashes off the ship on the way home from the bahamas. it was the only time my mother and i were totally alone for an extended period of time, and i loved it. we settled back into our communal living. mom worked from home with me. we went to new york for holidays and visits.
my mom and brother didn't talk on the phone too much. they both told me separately that talking just reminded them how much they missed each other. they missed each other terribly. i missed my brother terribly. he's my best friend. i know, it sounds strange. but he is absolutely my best friend. he always has been and always will be. i missed my ridiculous, diabetic dad and wanted to take care of him. awesome husband's parents (and grandmother, who's 90) weren't getting any younger. we had to keep flying up for graduations, holidays...
my mom didn't love working from home, but the job market in central florida is super lame. we started talking about returning to new york. we worked out some numbers. we looked at some options. we decided to move back to new york. and mom decided to look for a 'real' job first, then we'd sell the house and follow her up. she'd stay with my dad (24 years after their divorce, they were great friends) for a few weeks and then her and my brother would get a place together month to month. once awesome husband and i sold the house, we'd move up and get a house together. the way it is supposed to be.
the way it was supposed to be.
my mom went up to new york for a couple of interviews and was offered a job right up her alley: travel insurance. she spent 30+ years working in the health insurance industry and her most recent jobs had been in the travel/hospitality industry. i helped her choose appropriate clothes and shoes to pack. she took the two biggest suitcases we had. i helped her pack up her laptop and ipod shuffle. printed out all the bus schedules she'd need to get to and from work. told her how to sucker dad into dropping her off in the morning so she only had to get the bus home. we discussed options, outfits, the future, everything. she was nervous and excited. i was mostly excited - a new chapter for us all.
...to be continued