Ditching the Helicopter

It’s time to hang up my helmet…

Helicopter graphic by the incomparable, Breena Nuñez

I’ve been a mom for almost 35 years. I passed Helicopter Parenting 101 with flying colors. My friend admirably remarked once that, “You always know where your kids are!” I was proud of that….but it’s time to retire the whirlybird. My youngest just graduated from high school last week, and promptly moved to LA. What!!!???

I thought I was doing well…trying not to care where they were or when they’re gonna be coming home. Trying to mind my own business (which for three and a half decades was them). But tonight, a friend of my daughter’s was over and they were going out….I “kneejerked” suggested they get something for their brother….their brother who is 28 years old….”a grown man” he always reminds me. Shoot, I can’t undo my meddling or their embarrassment.

So….I am going to retire the helicopter, and entrust these birdies to God. Y’all pray for me because worrying and fretting is in my nature, I inherited it from the best – my dad. We are so thankful he never had a cell phone. But he did just fine with a landline. We all have stories of him tracking someone down who he was worried about. I think Katie has the best stories, he called hospitals, police departments and the CHP looking for her once.

Uhm…I haven’t gone that far…except, maybe, when Eva and Nonnie missed their train stop in San Bruno. They were young, about 14. They both had phones, and both their phones, of course, had died. And it was 10:00 at night. A perfect worrying storm. How I lived through those years, I don’t know. A good and gracious God, no doubt, helped his anxious daughter.

Anyway, I am waiting at the train for these two girls. The 10:00 train, heading towards the City (the only real City – San Francisco) comes…and goes. No girls get off. Huh? Oh no…

I don’t have my phone because I left it with Espi at the house in case they called. OK, maybe they’re getting off at South City. So, I race over there. Nobody is to be found in that scary, desolate station.

So as I was beginning to hyperventilate, I run over to the nearby 7-11 and call Espi to find out if she had heard from Eva. She responds, “Yeah…all she said was that the next station is ‘Bayshore'”.

Oh crap….

Anyone familiar with San Francisco knows that the Bayshore area off 101 isn’t the best neighborhood, especially for two young teenagers, and most especially at night. It’s almost 11:00 now. I race over to the Bayshore station which is not far from a few, uhm, well, uhm, unsavory areas of the City. There is NO ONE there. It’s a large, dark station and I don’t even know where they would’ve even gotten off at. It’s almost 11:30. My blood pressure is climbing. I don’t know what to do.

I run back to San Bruno to my trusty pay phone at 7-11, and call Espi again for any update. None. So what could I do, but go full blown Dad Mode. I call the police, I call the San Francisco Police, the South San Francisco Police and the San Bruno Police. Did I miss anyone? Each of those agencies went and looked for two teenage girls at their respective stations and found no one.

So I go back to the San Bruno station and wait in the parking lot trying to figure out what to do next, fighting off the worst that possibly could go wrong. Not long after midnight, the last train pulls into the station, the train from the City, and off pops our girls.

And in an indignant, but relieved, imitation of my father, I take a deep breath and ask pointedly, “Where the hell have you guys been?”

They weren’t too keen on all the story details when I told them on our way home. Well, too *&^##! bad.

I should’ve ditched the helicopter then…yet, I still had another decade of mothering to go. But, it’s time now to retire the worry, the anxiety and the overseeing. They are on their own. Mission accomplished.

It’s time to let them go, let them go out “the gate” and live their own lives. Their lives which were so much a part of mine. I knew from the beginning I was only a temporary guardian, and that role is complete now. Though they were the stars of my show, I must be happy to be only a supporting character in theirs. It’s okay.

I’m looking forward to a new future…with new experiences and new freedoms. But I will always miss my littles, and I will continue to watch – and pray – from afar, just not overhead.

https://wordpress.com/post/fromtheshoe.com/67 – Hope for the Helicopter Mom

Adolescent Absurdities

alexa

Teenagers…gotta love ’em! I mean you really have to love them because there are times when you don’t want to love them. You folks with newborns and babies – yeah, you guys who haven’t slept in months – sorry to break it to you, but the baby phase is easy. Exhausting, but easy.

Let me share some of the absurdities one has to live with when living with teenagers. I’ve taken some dramatic license. Mind you, there was a time I had five teenagers under one roof. I don’t remember much during those years…we all survived though. There’s a definite difference between boys and girls. Boys are quiet, destructive and obsessed with rock music and video games. Girls make up for the quietness of the boys by talking incessantly. Ellie, even last night, was talking in her sleep.

Let’s take last night: Ellie got up early yesterday to go to Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay. When Eloisa, the baby and I returned from church around 7:30 pm, Ellie was home and already unconscious. I understand, it was a long day for her. In order for Ellie to sleep, she must have “Monk” on replay. Since I was babysitting, I thought I could bypass the “Monk” marathon and put on a nice movie. Where was Ellie’s firestick? Now, Ellie is very, uhm, very possessive of her firestick. Rarely can anyone watch TV in the front room without her express permission to use the firestick? But Ellie was unconscious…I couldn’t wake her, I didn’t want to wake her. So I looked around for the coveted firestick…there it was, in her hand as she slept. Yikes! Because her sleep was so deep, the grip was not tight. I slowly and deftly removed the firestick from her slack grip. Whew…. I  got myself a big glass of milk and settled into the couch to watch a show with the baby. I settled Peyton with his bottle, and I gently grabbed the firestick, pressed the button, and whispered, “Alexa….”

“NOOOOOOOO!” came from the unresponsive body. “Give me my firestick!” Rather than wake up Smaug entirely, Peyton and I went into my room and watched that groundbreaking, critic-acclaiming, culture-shaping, lofty film, “The Incredibles” and called it a night.

During adolescence, I fear the processes of logic may either be underdeveloped or suspended until the kids are nearly 20. Another example: because yesterday was so busy, I asked my offspring – female offspring – if they had clean clothes for the next day. I didn’t have time to do the $40 worth of laundry at the laundromat, I didn’t want to, I was tired. I know I’m a bad mom. Anyone who has raised girls knows that clothing is a very important priority in their lives. I sympathize, but my priorities are usually bound and have paper pages. I was a weird teenage girl. Anyway, one of the female offspring was devastated that I was not doing the laundry. Mind you, this same child just got dressed to the nines for church. I told her why don’t you wear the same pants you wore to church. You think I had taken the kitchen knife and stabbed her. “No! I already wore them 3 times, they’re dirty.” I explained that there must be over 100,000 articles of clothing in this apartment. She could surely find a pair of pants to wear tomorrow. (I live with four of my daughters, and, for the most part, all of them can wear the same size.)  I added that I will do the laundry tomorrow night. Now here it comes…wait for it:

“You say that all the time, you never do it.”

Huh? I responded more to myself than to her…”I never do the laundry?”

“You never do it when you say you will!”

OK, so I’ve never done the laundry, when do you do it? Who does do the laundry…all of it? The towels? Your laundry, mine, your sisters, etc? Who does it? The conversation abruptly ended.

These kinds of situations are common and leave me scratching my head. Also there are things my kids say that now just render me dumbfounded:

“Where are my jeans with the holes in it?”

There are approximately 20 pairs of these kinds of jeans in my apt. I do not answer.

“Why don’t you ever do anything for me?”

I was giving this kid a ride somewhere. But I do not respond. I am mute.

Why aren’t there any clean dishes?”

Not a peep.

“There is no food in the house.”

Nothing. See previous blog, “At Least There was Milk in the Fridge.”

In my advanced middle age, I am learning to conserve what little energy I have. I don’t respond to these or the many other questions or statements of silliness that I’ve heard uttered from my offspring’s mouths. I chock it up to adolescent absurdity and move on. Life is way too short.