Just when you think you know who you are, where your life is going, what it’s going to look like, it doesn’t turn out that way at all. Life happens, which tends to throw a curveball at, well…life. Or, as Stephen King once said, “Sometimes, they come back.”
Much as Ron expected and I refused to acknowledge, our baby bird was a little too young to be pushed out of the nest quite yet. Take one emotionally young for her age, chronologically young for her grade, and a still-recovering-from-a-bad-breakup-fragile girl and throw her 2000 miles from home and you have a recipe for a tremendous success, or one hell of a disaster. In our case, we’re somewhere in between. I say we, because although Aubrey is her own person, this is a whole family situation.
Our solution is to keep her home for the next 8 months and see where she is in the fall. Ron wanted her to defer in the first place, but I was adamant. He was sure she wasn’t going to take her meds on time (she didn’t), wouldn’t wake up on time (she didn’t), wouldn’t get enough sleep (she didn’t) and would shut down (she did). I had hoped that she would get a glimpse of this wonderful, perfect life (that apparently only exists in my head, because mean girls are everywhere), and it would snap her into doing all the things she would need to do (it didn’t).
Essentially, we have to start over. We re-parent, but differently. In bed by 11pm. Up by 9am. Meds twice a day, period, no matter what time they are taken. Curfew, job, exercise, routine, routine, routine. This is nearly impossible for me. I have no concept of “routine” and neither do my children. I’m not sure if it is nature or nurture, or medical; does the fibromyalgia cause the sleep disturbances that cause us to be up all night, or is the fibro the effect and the lack of sleep the cause? Not even doctors can answer that one yet. Either way, it makes for great difficulty in planning for the next day. However, if I want my daughter to be successful, that means I have to re-parent myself, too. Routine, routine, routine. So far, I’m failing miserably, but she’s not here at the moment, so I have another week to get it figured out.
This is the downside to sending your incredibly brilliant child to an incredibly easy high school. She skated with way too much ease, and learned absolutely none of the academic discipline to be successful at an incredibly difficult college. I am exactly the same; I absorb knowledge from any and all sources, which enables me to fake my way through a lot of things. Aubrey is an observational learner, watching like a hawk, and remembering details with an accuracy that I once enjoyed and now just envy from afar.
For the next eight months, Aubrey is going to set aside serious school and work on herself, with a lot of pushing from me. I hate to play the “my house, my rules” card, but there it is. I’ve mandated that she see a counselor to work on some of the self-esteem issues that cropped up this fall, and I have some therapy tricks up my sleeve, as well. At the same time, though, she needs to figure out what she really wants, not what she thinks I want. Because there is no way to ever change the fact that we speak in stereo, think the same things at the same time, and can have entire conversations with our eyebrows, for her, differentiation takes a different tactic. She has to figure out how to be different from me beyond that, and it will be hard for her, especially with me being only ten feet away.
The one thing I could get out of her is that she said she’s terrified of me. When I told my friends about it, they agreed that I’m extremely intimidating. When all one speaks is fluent sarcasm, I can see how that could be intimidating, but geez, if I never strangled Matt with all the stupid shit that he did, I think Aub’s pretty safe. What I cannot (and never have been able to) get her to see is that nothing she says or does is going to make me love her any less. It’s the things she doesn’t say that piss me off no end. I want answers, and when I don’t get them, sarcasm becomes a sharp sword. Yes, there are issues that I will also have to work on; I’m just glad that I’ve made progress in other areas, so I can emotionally afford to set those things aside now and do this work instead.
So, we are now in a two bedroom, one bathroom house, bought because we thought we would only have a child for a few months out of the year. Our water heater holds enough hot water for half a shower for half a person. Our dryer just died. Our dishwasher doesn’t. We are halfway through renovating the bathroom, and redecorating a bedroom, so our house looks like an episode of “Hoarders”. In other words, it is nearly impossible for just two people to live in here. Somehow, we have to squeeze in a third? What sucks for Aubrey is that my plan for what will now be her bedroom is not really her taste. I have been dying for a shabby chic room, with all the furniture painted in white, aqua, pink, and cream. Aubrey hates painted furniture and despises most pink. All of her decor is French, fashion, and butterflies. It will be a true test of my decorating skills if I can pull this off somehow.
Fortunately, Aubrey and I are nothing if not incredibly creative. Will has taught me some awesome skills and the secret of “Liquid Nails,” which means no nail gun necessary for doing things like wainscoting and molding. My thought is to flip this house. We can put almost no money into it and get all of our money back out, and find a house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms…and a place for a freaking dining room table.
Ron says no fucking way. He hates home renovation. I pointed out that he doesn’t do ANY of it, other than installing ceiling fans and changing outlets and switches from beige to white. He says it’s still annoying. I’m looking at the piles of stuff everywhere, and I do have to agree. I’d much rather renovate a house I’m not living in. Financially, it’s impossible for us. Instead, we have to navigate the 16 inch pathways and just hope to God that nothing catches fire. Let’s not forget that it takes me four times longer to do anything than it does a normal person. It took me two weeks to paint the bedroom, and that was with a huge amount of help from Will. I’m on week two of texturing the micro-bathroom. At least I’ve got the texturing technique figured out, which is saving me a fortune in not having to pay someone, but it kills my arm and shoulder, so I can only work in small chunks of time.
I have to say that a huge part of me is happy that Aub will be home, just as much as there is a part of me that is disappointed for her. I wanted her to have all of these huge opportunities and live away from home. Somehow, she’s going to have to make her own huge opportunities while living at home, at least for a while. No matter what though, we are going to get through all of this together, as a family. No one in our house has to do anything alone; we lean on each other, although Aubrey has a difficult time doing that. I can only hope that this year, she receives the same gifts that I did last year; healing, the ability to forgive, the ability to ask for help, and the ability to accept that she is loved.
Aubrey has everything that I did not have at her age, and none of the things that I did. She’s not pregnant and not in an abusive relationship. She has a ton of support; from Leigh, who is driving her across the country to bring her and her stuff home; from Will, who wants to be “the cool uncle” that she can talk to; from Rico, who sees things from her perspective, and is able to communicate that to me; from Mara, who will go out of her way to help Aubrey find hers; from Ron, who is always the voice of reason; from Matt, who got her old job back for her; and from me, who will dive in front of a bus, take a bullet, and kick the ass of anyone who dares to say a damn thing about her being home.
Yeah, she has some troubled waters to traverse over the next few months, but we’ll get there.
“When you’re weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all. I’m on your side. Oh, when times get rough and friends just can’t be found, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. When you’re down and out, when you’re on the street, when evening falls so hard, I will comfort you. I’ll take your part. Oh, when darkness comes and pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way. See how they shine? Oh, if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind, like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.”