blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This morn, I dropped Dev off for a full day of work.

Five minutes later, he calls to ask if I can come back. "Are you okay?" I ask. "Yeah, I just need you to come back for a minute, if that's okay."

So in the five minutes it takes me to turn around and head back, my brain runs through hours worth of possibilities: he's been hurt, he forgot his tools, he has to load something in the car, he got his work schedule wrong, he's been let go...

The moment I pull into the parking lot, he jogs outside in the light rain and signals me to roll down the window. He reaches inside to give me a huge hug. "I forgot to tell you I love you, Mom, and I wanted to give you a hug. Thanks for coming back."

Yeah, I drove home all teary-eyed.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
My son is all alone right now, and damned happy about it.

From Sunday to Friday, he was with his grandmother (driving cross-country) and/or his aunt (staying at her home outside Denver). Both of these women are extreme extroverts who have almost zero understanding of what it's like to be an introvert. Their ignorance isn't malicious. It simply is.

I know this because I grew up with them. For years, I was teased because my most common outcry as a child was, "I just want to be alone!" My mother, with no understanding of introversion, used to tell me I'd been born into the wrong family if alone-ness was what I wanted. I don't remember being crushed by that; I remember agreeing. And my extroverted little sister, poor thing, assumed her older sister must not like her much.

I did end up being what I call a "well-trained introvert." At age nine, I began in community theater, and continued working in community and regional theater until the summer before Dev was born. It didn't make me less of an introvert. It did make it easy for me to fool you into thinking I wasn't an introvert.

Come to think of it, Viable Paradise was the first event I attended where I let myself give in to every introvert urge. Thus I spent a great deal of emotionally-laden time in my room, alone, and was happy for it.

Looking back, I think my introversion was the reason I was so relieved to get my driver's license. It didn't matter if I just drove around in circles. I could drive alone.

So my son--who is not quite as introverted as I am, but certainly not the extrovert that my mother and sister are--is in his room gaming. Since he just got home last night, he was worried I'd be hurt by this.

Hell, no. I get it. Alone time is sanity time. If I'd spent a week with my female relatives, unable to escape for even a short drive, I'd want to be alone, too. It doesn't mean I don't love them, just as it doesn't mean my son doesn't love me.

It does indeed mean that my son knows when too much interaction is stressing him out, and I want him to both know that limit, and know he can act upon it without condemnation.

Besides-- Dev and I argue with each other much less when we both get our alone time. By the time I get home from running tonight's dojo party, he'll be relaxed enough for a little chitchat. By tomorrow, we'll both be ready to spend time together.

Yes, I'm glad I understand my son. But the equally important gift is that my son understands me.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Don't confuse credentials with competence. There are a great many lousy surgeons. There is an abundance of idiotic lawyers. Folks with MBA degrees make stupid business decisions. Every school has teachers the parent-grapevine warn others about. Credentials can be purchased. Competence cannot.

Even your dream job will have parts that suck.

Don't let someone else's claim of, "That's so hard to do!" deter you from what you want to do. First of all, what's hard for some folks is a piece of cake for others. Second, why is "hard" something to avoid? Besides, if everyone else is looking to avoid "hard," there will be very little competition for those with the willingness to actually put in the work.

There is no such thing as a dead-end job, but a dead-end attitude is quite real. Don't confuse the two. Every job teaches you something, if your eyes, ears, and mind are open to it. Dead-end attitudes close all three of those things.

There is no one path to success, so just smile and nod when people start telling you what you must do with the first years of adulthood. Mostly, they will tell you college is mandatory if you want to make something of yourself. Really, that's a load of crap. If you want to be making six figures in four years, start training as a heavy equipment operator. (You'll be paid to train rather than paying for the training, too.) If you want to be starting your own business, you'll find excellent resources in the open marketplace. If you want to experience different cultures and understand diversity, travel on a budget and meet the world in its own home. If you want to learn, read books and find mentors and ask questions and try new things and treat boredom as a void to be filled with coolness. And if you want to go to college because YOU want to pursue a career that requires a degree, by all means do that, too.

You can change your mind about just about any decision at any time, but you shouldn't then whine about the fact there are consequences to making changes. Everything has consequences, my son. Adults who rant about the unfairness of that truth must have had either a very sheltered upbringing, or are accustomed to making someone else bear the consequences for them.

How a person treats the restaurant busboy tells you more about her/his character than how she/he treats you. Make relationship decisions accordingly.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This time, I'll be gone for a week--a few days in the mountains above Monterey, a couple days on the Central Coast, and a day on either end for travel.

That assumes, of course, I can get out of the state.  Last week's snow resulted in a day's worth of air traveler's bumped from their flights.  Today things are just caught up.  My flight leaves early tomorrow morning... by which time there will be a couple inches of NEW snow on the ground.  I'm planning to get up at 3:30am in expectation of messy roads.  Then, I'm planning to sleep on the plane after giving those seated near my permission to wake me if I start snoring.

Dev will be spending his first night at home, all night, alone.  He's pretty stoked.  I have made him lists of this and that, let a couple nearby friends know Dev is on his own, and reminded myself sixteen is plenty old enough to demonstrate independence.  I suspect he will eat just about anything in the house that resembles snack foods, stay up nearly all night to watch movies and play Xbox, and drag himself out of bed the next morn with barely enough time to get ready for work.

Alas, I would feel better (and so would he) if the dogs were here.  But since Dev won't be at the house all week, and there is no one else to take them to the kennel, the pups must head out this afternoon.  At least we know they're well-loved at the kennel.  They act just as excited to arrive there as they are to go home.

I haven't written a thing in days, and decided that was just fine.  It seems I have a difficult time settling in to write when I don't have the activity of karate.  Good to know.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Cool little things:


First: One of my favorite people from my high school years is my drama coach.  As an actor, he taught me a great deal about how to be comfortable—and therefore be real—on stage, and one of my coolest high school experiences was acting as his stage manager when he directed 1984. We still chat on the phone now and then, and have managed to see each other in person twice in the last twenty years.  I tell you all this so you'll understand how unbelievably awesome it was to hear him say he can see me in Sword and Chant.   


Second: A complete stranger gave Sword and Chant four of five stars over at Goodreads.  I'm telling you this because...  Well, because you're my friends, and I'm so ridiculously jazzed I keep giggling. :)

 

Anyway.


Our Christmas tree is up!  This is an accomplishment.  Last year, I put up a tree with a few standard glittery ornaments because I didn't want to pull out the special ornaments.  Special ornaments hold memories—that's their purpose—and neither Dev nor I were interested in swimming in that ocean.  We didn't put lights outside, either.  We didn't do much of anything but get through the first Christmas without his father.

This time, Dev volunteered to help.  There are only special ornaments on the tree.  And since we have a much smaller tree (because we have a much smaller space for it!), those special ornaments fill the spaces perfectly.  If it ever stops raining, or freezing, we will put up some outside lights as well.  Nothing huge, but enough to reclaim the season.

Above all else, I am grateful beyond measure that my son still talks with me.  One night last week, he brought up a very serious topic while we were driving home.  I didn't want to risk losing the connection—when a teenager starts talking from the heart, the smallest thing can stop the flow—so we sat in the car, in the driveway, in the cold darkness for a couple of hours as he talked his way through missing his father, grieving for the carefree teenage years he will never know, and figuring out what he wants to do next.


A couple of days later, he went to his first employee Christmas party.  He was, of course, the youngest there by about five years, but had a blast.  His coworkers like him and treat him well.  He said it was the first time he didn't feel awkward at a big party.  I think it's because it was the first party he'd attended that wasn't geared to young teenagers.

In two and half weeks, I leave for California to spend a few days in a treehouse with That Man (who is still wonderful, awesome, handsome, and understanding), then I'll head down the coast to spend a couple days with dear friend Patricia in either San Luis Obispo or Carmel, depending upon schedules.  As thrilled as I am with the ongoing enrollment at the dojo (two new people last night!), I could really use the break. 

Miscellany

Jul. 31st, 2012 01:35 pm
blairmacg: (Default)
I have never so looked forward to the end of summer.  We usually get about an inch of rain per week.  We've had less than an inch, total, since June 15.  We're supposed to have seven or eight days above 90.  We've had five or six days below 90 since June 15. 

It's the heat that's doing in my garden.  Watering produces an overwhelming amount of grass and weeds, while the vegetables drop off before ripening, or never really develop at all.  And my yard?  The grass as moved from the light brown of straw to the dark brown and black of scorched earth.  Most trees are dropping their leaves.  Many bushes look dead.

Dev and I decided to postpone our England-Scotland trip until the spring, when his godmother can go with us.  Because we did so much traveling in the first half of the year, we're not anxious to fill that October slot with much of anything.  We may take a weekend in Chicago or--at most--a trip to someplace like Niagara Falls.  (That would be in addition to my likely solo trip to Charleston to see That Man. :)

I can see half the top of my dining table.  This is progress.  I've managed to limp along this year with almost no business organization--the lack resulting from the fact I haven't a designated office and/or desk space.  Next week is to remedy that.  I still don't have an office space, but do have a Cunning Plan to bypass the lack.  Really, the only reasons I need that sort of work space is to a) process bills, paperwork, and contracts once a week, and b) store all relevant paperwork.  I don't need an office, or even a desk, for that.  But I do need to employ organizational skills and discipline.  Damn it.

I've been having the usual drop-your-shoulders drills and talks with my first-year adult karate students.  All the adults understand they shouldn't tense their shoulders, but it takes awhile for shoulder-relaxation to become more natural than tension.  When they run kata, I go around and tap tense shoulders (touch bypasses language processing, so it speeds learning), and in self-defense, I demonstrate how their tension makes them weaker rather than stronger.  Last night was a combination of frustration and amusement on the issue.  And I know that once they get the shoulder tension under control, we'll have the same learning process with hips and lower back.  Kids don't usually have those issues.  (They instead tend to throw their energy forward and/or down.)

Best news: For the first time ever, Dev has expressed excitement about college.  We spent yesterday morning talking through his plan for finishing high school a year early, then looking at the website for Vincennes University--the campus he was on for law enforcement camp.  He had me request an information packet, and even sent texts to his friends about choosing his goal.  I can't explain just how huge a step this is.  Now the key is to quietly and not-to-enthusiastically support him in that direction.  Too much excitement on my part is the fastest, surest way to make him run the other direction.

Happy Kid

Jul. 13th, 2012 10:14 pm
blairmacg: (Default)
Dev absolutely loved Law Enforcement Camp.  As he shook hands with the Troopers, he told them, "I'll see you next year!"

All of his classmates stayed the entire week, which is apparently a rare thing.  In addition to hearing from people employed in all sorts of law enforcement careers, the class learned to march in formation, were expected to clean their rooms and bathrooms daily, and were responsible for getting themselves to the right places at the right times.  Then there was the 3am wake up for PT.  A the midnight jog.  And the sprints and the push-ups...

Dev thrived.

We knew he'd hear from attorneys, officers, and detectives while at camp.  He also saw demonstrations by the bomb squad and SWAT, and heard from a K-9 officer, a member of the Secret Service, and a forensic documents examiner.  The last one was among his favorites.  There was a trip to the jail which Dev found completely uninteresting, and two evenings of free time in the pool that he loved.  (There was even a zipline and climbing wall in the pool area!)

After the graduation, Dev exchanged hugs and handshakes with many.  I am so glad he went, and so relieved he loved it.

Now we're both going to get some sleep.  In thirty-six hours, we check in to karate camp.
blairmacg: (Default)

I dropped Dev off at law enforcement camp.  Our agreement was that if his roommate was already there, I'd just put whatever I was carrying in his room, give him a quick hug, and be on my way.  The maternal version of, "Later, dude."

And that's what happened.

I wasn't five minutes into the drive home when I decided I was a horrible mother, I hadn't really prepared my son to be on his own for a week, he would hate the whole thing, and at week's end, I'd pick up a depressed and wounded child whose dreams of working in law enforcement had become smoldering embers in the pit of broken self-esteem.

Eventually I talked myself out of all that.  Then, halfway through the drive home, I talked myself back into it.

I am now officially insane.

blairmacg: (Default)

One of the (countless) challenges of being a single parent is helping a child maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent.  Barring mental, physical, and emotional abuse, the child's well-being is nourished by both parents, both relationships.  Doing anything that undermines one relationship or the other does nothing but hurt and confuse the child.

This gets extremely challenging when the other parent has died.

There are days when the temptation is to ignore any wrong done by the late parent, to let the child remember him as almost holy.  There are days when the temptation is to relate those past wrongs as the reasons some things are tougher than they should be now.  And then there are days when the wish--the desperate wish--is that the other parent was still alive to step up and step in.

Today was one of those days.  Dev did something, and I reacted.  Then I overreacted.  I hate it when I do that.

Until this last year, even when we were separated and angry with each other, I'd call my late husband to let him know what was happening, to get his take on this son-raising challenge.  He and I would talk it through.  Sometimes we'd figure out ways I could better talk with Dev, sometimes he'd step in to be the other supporting figure pointing out that Mom was most certainly In Charge, and sometimes he'd be the bridge between Dev and I.

So after I quit overreacting, and Dev and I had gone to our separate corners, I tried to imagine just what his dad would have said.  Then I practiced different ways to present those thoughts in a way that wasn't overly sentimental or that sounded guilt-inducing.  The tone with which I'd ask, "What would your Dad have said today?" would mean more than the words.

Fortunately, Dev and I both came up with about the same ideas for answers to that question, and we sealed our agreement over moo shu and fried rice.  I don't know if Dev will make the needed behavior change for more than a couple days, but at least it's covered for today.  Tomorrow, we'll see if we have to do it all over again.

blairmacg: (Default)
Progressing through CHANT revisions yesterday was a wonderful obsessive-writer event.  I moved through the longest and messiest chapter in the novel and did my best to let the narrator choose what could stay and what needed to be cut.  There was a fair bit of adding as well, and much rewording of bland and awkward phrasings.  This pass of revisions for the first part are complete.  30K words down, 110K to go.

Yesterday was also Dev's first day behind the wheel of a car.  He has driven farm vehicles, but rumbling through a huge open field is a sight different from keeping to your side of a two-lane country road.  There are only two hours of the day when you'll find more than the occasional vehicle on our road--the morning hour for folks going to work or school, and the evening hour for folks coming home--so we did our driving in the middle of the afternoon, after the previous day's ice patches had melted.

He didn't hit anything or anyone.  He (mostly) kept the car between the lines.  Left turns are well done.  Right turns need work.  Braking and acceleration are as expected.  The joyful look on his face when he finally pulled into the driveway on his own was worth every frantic beat of my heart.

Today will be more revising and driving.  I'm sure there's a fantastic way to tie those two together in a neat little package of comparative phrases.  But the bottom line is this: I'm happy and my kid is happy, and it looks like we get to replay that happiness today, tomorrow, and Friday.  Life is good right now.

More writerly thoughts will come sometime later this week.


1.5 Decades

Dec. 3rd, 2011 11:58 am
blairmacg: (Default)
My son turns fifteen tomorrow.  I find this to be amazing.  A handful of a baby has turned into a young man who already looks old enough to be seated in a bar.  The kid who popped wheelies on his bike until he flew over the handlebars will soon be learning to drive.

I remember what kind of kid I was at fifteen.  I am so, so, so grateful my son is, thus far, quite different.

I do have the odd fluttering of terror now and then.  Part of me is in a panic: I have only three years left to teach him everything he needs to know!  A second part of me names the first part ridiculous.  I know I didn't learn a damn thing from my parents between the ages of thirteen and twenty-three, because those were the years in which I already knew everything.  My time to teach him is already past, really.  The years ahead are more about clarification of lessons learned, I suppose.

Delight is there as well.  I'm excited to see what my son will do with his life, and every year is an unfolding of something new.  The certainty with which he once spoke of his career choices has given way to indecision as he learns more about the vast options before him.  I honestly have no idea what he will settle on.

There is also an undercurrent of anticipation on my part.  When I found out I was pregnant, I made a decision to live my life as consecutive stages rather than concurrent ones.  When Dev no longer needs a fulltime mom, that life stage of mine will close.  I'll have as much freedom as he in choosing what will come next.

Fifteen years old, my child shall be.  He has faced the last year with grace, strength, and resiliency.  He is the most awesome young man I know.

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