Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Part II: The Kid Goes to College...

...and I lose my mind. (Click here if you missed Part I, as Part II won't make much sense without it.) (It may not make much sense, regardless.)

Dad, Star, and I made it home all right (in spite of continuing thunderstorms!), had dinner with Mom, and then my Sis spent another night at chez moi to lend me some (im)moral support. We cracked open our (second) bottle of cabernet sauvignon and re-watched, for the umpteenth time, the movie Warlock (from 1989, starring still super-sexy Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant). (Hubba freaking hubba.) (I would even add wooooooof!)

I got up with Star early-ish Sunday morning, to make her some coffee before she trekked back to Brooklyn, and then I was alone. Before she left, she asked me how I was doing and, taking her meaning, I told her I'd be totally fine. And I really thought it was true. I'd felt nothing but normal through the past few days and, in spite of the nasty storms we'd encountered, took great pleasure in Balthazar's obvious excitement to be embarking on this great college adventure. I really felt OK.

I went back to bed and snored away a couple more hours, dreaming intense and crazy dreams, one of which included my Dad flying me somewhere in a small plane and telling me not to look. Of course, I looked, and he said not to panic. When I saw we were flying over a beach and about to fly out over open water, I completely freaked out. Quelle bizarre. (My Dad ain't no pilot.)

What Balthazar leaves behind...
I got out of bed for realz a little before noon and headed to the bathroom. I passed Balthy's bedroom, now nearly completely vacant and a bit of a mess with moving-away debris and stuff I'm to throw out at some undesignated point in the near future. I thought I noticed a tumbleweed roll by. Then I became completely overpowered by sobs. I spent all of Sunday alternately keening and telling myself this horrible feeling would pass, without believing it for one second. I felt like I was dying. And, God help me, I almost wanted to die, if it meant I wouldn't feel so awful, ever again.

The thing is, it's not just the reminder that Balthy's gone which set me off. It's the fact that I can either pay rent on my apartment (or on any apartment) OR pay the balance of his college fees that aren't covered by scholarships and loans and whatnot. Which means that when my lease expires at the end of September, I'm moving back into my parents' two-bedroom apartment. It's absolutely generous of them to let me, as they know why it's necessary. I love my parents, a whole hell of a lot, and I'm so grateful to them for all they've done, and continue to do, for Balthy and me. But moving back in with them at this stage in my life, living in such close quarters, after running a home of my own...gah.

Finally, I'm facing not only a midlife-crisis, but an identity crisis as well. Without having to provide such nuanced care for my kid on a daily basis, I feel all at sea. (Aha, that dream now makes sense!) I have to redefine who I am and I'm not sure I know how to be anything other than a mom anymore. Geez, I've been a mother for most of my adult life! I know who I wanted to be, before Balthazar came along. And I reckon I should go back to that head space and re-frame those dreams with the wisdom I've acquired over the years. I know this is a wonderful opportunity to recreate myself, but this parting of ways with the Me I've been since May 29, 1995...it's a stunningly painful divide.

All Sunday I felt grief-stricken, with these thoughts of loss and dreaded change roiling around in my mind and gut. I know, intellectually, that this downpour of feeling was the worst of it. As the days go by, I will adjust, I will re-frame, and I will conquer all of this ick. And I will strive, in the immortal words of my favorite band, Duran Duran, to not "...cry for yesterday; there's an ordinary world, somehow I have to find." (Man, actually listening to this song on Sunday night = big mistake.)

And I may get a tattoo. 'Cause, you know, a midlife crisis is the perfect time of life in which to do something terribly permanent which you may some day regret. Well, one's teen years are the ideal time, but that ship has long since sailed, alas...


  1. Awwww I'm so sorry that you are sad and have 'empty nest syndrome'. Also sorry that you have to move back in w/ your folks due to finances. It's becoming more and more common, but I'm sure you guys will be fine. :) Tell me more about your tattoo!

  2. The boy's off to college next week. His sister two days after that. Sadness quickly follows. Right on the heels of that tuition bill.
    This will be our daughter's first year away, so Mrs. Penwasser and I are now "empty-nesters." I suspect we're going to look at each other and ask, "NOW what?"

  3. Sure hope that today is a little easier on you than the weekend was. You are right that over time you will reframe, but hell I would feel adrift myself. Moving back in with the parents is tough after being out on your own for so long...I know lol. Been living back at home for the past six months here while I've been awaiting my move and whoa baby. There isn't much that I can say about how you're feeling and I'm not about to sit here and fill your blog with cliches. All I can do is offer an e-hug so.....*HUGS HUGS and more HUGS*.

  4. Wow. I think you may have stumbled onto something that you can put your energy into now that your young'in is off to find himself through high tuition and random social interaction:

    You took your pain and fear and turned it into a gripping and incredibly moving piece of writing, my dear. Clearly you have an enormous creative talent, and I think this new beginning is obviously the time to do all you can to cultivate it.

    You have my support and warmest thoughts for getting through this time of change Like, um, you're not 'moving in with your parents' -- you're simply taking partial early possession of your eventual inheritance estate. ;^)

    Hang in there!

  5. Hang in there, Mina. I know moving back with your paroz isn't easy. I think it's something positive. Strengthening those bonds with them. It might also be an opportunity to do something for yourself. For the last 18 years it's been your baby. :) Something good will come out of this. Oh, yeah I'm interested to hear about that tattoo too...my teen-age ship sailed years ago too. LOL mucho hugs and hugs.

  6. @JoJo - I'm thinking some kinda moon design...got any images you can point me to???

    @Al - Now we PARTY!!!!!! Ahem. ;-)

    @Tracy - Doing better now. I only sniveled once on Monday, and not at all today! (So far!) And thanks for the hugs! <3

    @Chris - thank you. And LOL! :-D

    @Cecilia - You're right, and thanks for the hugs! I was thinking maybe Duran Duran's moon symbol from the New Moon on Monday single, but I'm not 100% sure of that yet. (Here's the image, if you're not familiar with it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:New_Moon_on_Monday.jpg But I'd get it without the lettering.) I'm also not sure where on my body it should go, I just know I don't want a tramp stamp! :-)


  7. Hang in there beautiful! I wish I could send you an enormous care package filled with chocolates and wine et des gros bisous!

    The thing is, things will get better. And I agree with Chris, you've got talent lady, use it. (:

  8. Tattoo. Tattoo. Tattoo! I'm chanting for you. And if all fails. Write. Write. Write! *big hug*

  9. I agree with the chorus that wants you to get an awesome tattoo. No better way to mark an insanely huge transition, in my opinion.

    Hugs to you and all strength. I've pondered moving back in with my folks at various points and can only imagine what a weird headspace it would produce to actually do it. Balthy is a lucky young man with you to look out for him.

  10. @Elise - Merci bien! (Though I think I indulged in a bit more wine and chocolate than was good for me over the weekend.) ;-)

    @Mina - Yes, yes, yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you! First, I plan to make a plan. Then, once I've moved, I feel I can get back to writing. (Though if I'm moved to write, of course I will.) Also, I've got to decide on a tattoo! :-)

    @Elizabeth - Thanks, lady. I don't expect The Kid to fully understand, at this point in his life, what this all means and how hard it is for me, but someday he will. And he'd better put me in a *really nice home* when the time comes. :-D

  11. Ah :( I don't have children so I will never need to go through this. I don't think I can handle it either. BUT I am with you on the tattoo and take time for YOU! You deserve it!

  12. Aw, shucks, Heather - thanks! :-)

  13. I knew this would be hard for you. I'm a different kind of mom, so I didn't really have a problem when Jane went off to Pratt. Then again, she prepared me for her leaving her whole senior year, i.e., she wasn't around much. You will get through this. Even having to move back in with your parents, although Suetu stayed with her parents for about 6 weeks and couldn't wait to get away. (I think that's what convinced her that she didn't want to live in this area. Hahahaha.) Tatoo. I've often thought about it, but at my advanced age, I think that ship has sailed. Plus Jane was appalled at the idea of my getting a tattoo when I once jokingly said I might and assured me that I wouldn't be able to take the pain. Which she's probably right about. Give me a call sometime so we can catch up.

  14. Oh crap...moving back in with the parents? You are incedibly generous. I would make a lot of sacrifices for my kids. But not that one.

  15. There's nothing wrong with living with your parents. In today's economy, that makes a lot more sense than struggling between a place of your own and Balthy's schooling. I don't make enough to live alone, so I moved back in with the 'rents after I came back from college.

    And I think a tattoo is a good idea. :D

  16. You know, you should do whatever you feel led to do, and there are millions of people who happily adorn body art, and more power to them.

    But for me, I've always thought of tattoos kinda like putting graffiti on the Venus de Milo, or plastering a bumper sticker onto the Mona Lisa.

    Plus, I get bored wearing the same shirt twice in a row -- I can't imagine anything I'd want to have stuck on me for every single day of the rest of my entire life.

    Just my two cents... ;^)

  17. @Sara Leigh - Be giving you a ringie-ding soon.

    @Tonja - LOL, now I've got that Meatloaf song in my head. "I will do anything for love, but I won't do that!" :-)

    @Cherie - thanks. Now I've just gotta find the right design.

    @Chris - I've flirted with the idea of a tattoo for a while but couldn't imagine an image I'd want on my body for the rest of my life, so I dig what you're saying.

  18. You're a wonderful mom to make such sacrifices for your son. He's lucky to have you. You'll come out of this stronger than before.

    And Warlock, oh yes! Awesome film made so by the yummy Julian Sands!

  19. @Christine - Thank you and I hope so. :-)

  20. *takes a moment to revel in mental image of Julian Sands* *Takes another moment* *sigh* Okay!

    Beautifully written post. I was totally feeling your pain right along with you. Then to see the room. Oy that was a hard blow. You've got a lot to deal with, but your plans sound very wise. You're already landing on your feet. Everything will work out!

  21. @Ava - thank you. I'm striving, which is better than not. (Or so I've heard.) ;-)

  22. It sounds awful, but you are one tough woman and I know you'll make it. I can only sympathize as I have never been a mom and don't plan to be. However, I'm working on redefining myself after taking care of ill family for 20 years so I can completely understand trying to redefine dreams. Hugs!

  23. @Melissa - Aw, thanks! I'm a tough woman who needs to stock up on Kleenex, I'll tell you what! And yeah, I don't recommend motherhood to anybody! ;-)


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