(Am I) The Worst Mother in the World?

The summer before my only child, Soon-to-be-Abandoned, went to college, I went into mourning.  Stunned by its depth, I struggled to find ways to hold on to my son.  Mr. NYer and I cagily planned the perfect summer vacation that year, a five-day rafting trip down the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon, guaranteed to provide us with a whole heap of quality time with our son.  

The trip was wonderful, and we enjoyed the time together immensely, but that dollop of quality time did nothing to diminish the huge sense of loss I experienced every day as I contemplated the end of his childhood and the end of my role as mother-of-a-child.   Maybe it even made it worse. 

So, how am I dealing with this latest anticipated separation?  It’s different this time, of course.  Soon-to-be-Abandoned moved out out to live in hip and young Williamsburg last year.  He’s 24-years old, an age when, if I remember correctly, one didn’t really feel the need to have Mom & Dad close by.  Grandchildren are, I believe, more than a few years off.  If they appear, we will pack up and follow him where ever he has wound up.    

Mr. NYer worried, too.  “I feel the need to be his safety-net,” he explained, adding that it was a terrible thing to sell Soon-to-be-Abandoned’s childhood home, the only home he had ever known.  More troubling, most of his earthly goods, the personal artifacts of his childhood, student days — everything — were in our house and he would have to figure out what do with them.  I dreaded seeing the store of “friends” — the two score stuffed animals that he managed every night to pile atop his body before he went to sleep — pulled out of the closet and consigned to the trash heap.

Soon-to-be-Abandoned took the news of a possible move in stride, with a sweet generosity of spirit.  “Well, of course I will miss you, and feel sad about the house being sold,” he explained, “but the fact that the job sounds really interesting and something you would enjoy helps.”  Great, I thought:  He has no idea what this is going to feel like, and it will hit him like a ton of bricks.  

Rational thought could be deployed to stave off emotion: Soon-to-be Abandoned is resourceful and independent; Montgomery is not on the other side of the world; our wallet was the most important safety net he would need. 

The rational mind dominated until The Crisis. 

When we finally made the decision, it turned out that something else was preying on Soon-to-be-Abandoned’s mind.  He had moved into a new place, with four strangers, in August.  This was an arrangement made possible by Craigslist.  By October, however, a crisis had arisen in the apartment, and his hearty independence and self-sufficiency seemed more an illusion than reality.  Two of the roommates were moving out; he was faced with an ethical and practical dilemma that was resolved only when all of the roommates decided to move out, even if it meant losing their security deposits.  He reported that he was having headaches and that his neck and back were sore. Obviously he had meningitis, and how could I rush in to help him if I were a thousand miles away?

The solution to the Crisis (not the meningitis — that was simple tension) is that Soon-to-be-Abandoned is moving back home for a few months.  This is a good thing:  he gets to save some money, can help out with the house-clearing and packing, and we get to spend some quality time with him before he leaves.

I just hope it doesn’t make it all harder.

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4 Responses

  1. …to answer your question, ‘no’.

    (and Soon-To-Be-Abandoned will make you fully aware of that in the years to come…)

  2. I expect to see this available in book form for Kindle and in print by Spring 2011. I love reading it.

  3. Put Abandoned to work writing clever (or not) ads for Craigs, give him a commission on all he sells. Have him search the Wanted section for scratch artists who’ll buy (right, pay for) your vinyls, and do a Google search for the used bookstore nearest you, or just donate a few to the local library, school, whatever. Never mention the stuff in his room. What he wants, he’ll take or give away.

    Been there, done that… 3X plus 42 moves. Never again.

    Luck.

  4. […] maw of the twin towers construction site.  We endured a blizzard, enjoyed limited time with the Abandoned One, and generally felt like refugees from Home Alone […]

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