The week of difficult child's birthday---in middle of it

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    And a lot of it (angst) is created by my own anxiety.

    This week I heard from difficult child on Monday and I kept it short, making plans for his birthday which is tomorrow. He engaged a bit about his background check for a job and the problems with it, but I kept it very short and didn't encourage a back and forth about it.

    Then I texted him Thursday to see what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. No word. easy child had said his dad and he were meeting difficult child for a birthday lunch so I thought, well, I guess I'll know more after that and I will just make the cake of my choice. I know difficult child likes Birthday Cake ice cream from Marble Slab so I am getting that.

    But....the angst in me was yesterday I went by the day shelter to see if he was there. They know me now. Ugh. They said he hadn't been there today, so I just left and thought, okay, well, I guess he'll contact me or he won't about Sunday specifics, i.e., where to pick him up or what time.

    Later yesterday I had three or four missed calls and then a message from an unknown number and my stomach tightened up, but I didn't call the number back. difficult child left a message saying that his phone was stolen earlier in the week and he would try to call me again later.

    So he did, and asked me to bring him some flip flops and some clean clothes to McDonald's, which is about a mile from my house. I went and saw him for the first time in a month. He looked good, and I was glad to see him.

    He had two friends with him and I bought them all food and we sat outside on a table and talked. The friends asked me questions---one had gotten beat up the night before and had gone to the ER, said he has a severe concussion. difficult child told me later that that guy is his friend who he tries to protect because both of the parents are dead and he is homeless and somewhat off and the day shelter is trying to get him benefits.

    Okay. Then the other guy is the stepson of a former NFL player and they don't get along so he's on the street. He later told me he hasn't talked to his own mom in a month and a half, and he seemed sad when he talked about not seeing his little sisters. He says he is going back to college at the end of August.

    difficult child said that guy wants him to get an apartment with him. I sat and listened and drank my diet sweet tea, somehow I started to feel better about difficult child's situation.

    Who knows if any/all/some of the above stories are true? I guess the thing is, difficult child has a community. Then, he used my phone to call his dad and brother about the lunch today and we walked over to a shade tree to stand while he did that. Another guy, an older man, walked up and gave difficult child three dollars.
    This is another homeless friend.

    difficult child said, "see we stick together and help each other. That guy is just an old drunk, but I've helped him before and now he's sharing what he has with me."

    Okay. difficult child said he is going back to Goodwill Career Solutions Monday morning to keep on with their process of helping him get a job. They help felons get jobs. I said, why haven't you gone back to the Salvation Army to at least stay in their shelter? He gave me some answer about the treatment center, waiting on them, and if he goes to the SA and then leaves he can't go back for 90, he said he's still mad at them. So....okay.

    I said: what about a halfway house? difficult child said he has called all of them (???, all, ???) and they all want a month up front. Hmmmmm...I don't think so, but I said....well, I believe your family will help you get started if we truly believe you are ready to make a start.

    Then he started telling me how he hasn't used drugs at all (ask any of these guys, Mom) but is drinking and smoking cigarettes. "I'm 25 years old and I've got to get going here." That was one thing he said yesterday that had a ring of real truth, I believe.

    So...okay. I came home and told SO about it and he is....shall we say....skeptical. I am too. I am trying not to be on the hamster wheel of craziness, wondering what, who, how, when, why, if, etc....endlessly. There is no redemption there.

    All of that is talk. It is action that counts. I have learned that over these past years. So, what action has occurred in the last month since he got out of jail. What action to change his situation? It sounds like he is going to probation (county and state) weekly. He has not been arrested again. He said he went to Goodwill and went to a two-hour orientation before he found out about the background check. He didn't jump on the halfway house idea even though I clearly indicated I would pay for it if he decided to go, at least for the first month.

    So....time will tell. We are picking him up at the same McDonald's tomorrow at 4 and will take him to difficult child's house where we will have beef burgundy, broccoli with cheese sauce (both difficult child's favorites), salad and bread, and then birthday cake and Birthday Cake ice cream, and then easy child will take him where he wants to go after we are through. I know it will be a hard afternoon but I am hoping I can have a good attitude about it all, which for me would be living in the moment, enjoying being with difficult child, doing something for him that is okay to do, and then letting him go, to whatever is next for him.

    Easier to write, will be harder to do. My mother has sent him a check for his birthday. I will give that to him, with very mixed emotions, but as SO and I talked,she didn't ask me for my advice and I am not going to try to control or manage what she has decided to do.

    My sister has sent me a check for difficult child and told difficult child in the card that I will have the check. That is a harder deal, because as I posted early on here, they had all given me money for him for Christmas and that was a huge burden. I am going to put the check in an account that I am going to open, plus will put some money of my own there, and maybe we can use that one day to help him if and when he gets ready.

    My son was very sweet yesterday. He said thank you several times. I tried to listen to his friends, and just sit there and spend time. It was good, actually. We hugged and said I love you several times. My heart was hurting but I was still glad to see him.

    I just wish so much for him, and I would be so glad to see something good start to happen. And I know so well that he is the only one who can make it happen.

    I am trying to be grateful for the good things right now, today, and accept reality. I'll let you know how tomorrow goes. Off to make the beef burgundy.
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  2. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    My friend, you know I'm in no position to give advice...but I'm glad you had a good visit and I hope his birthday is a happy one for you. Warm hugs to you.
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  3. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I'll be thinking of you tomorrow and hope your next post is a happy one. x
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  4. 4now

    4now Member

    I have no advice to offer, just prayers that you will have a nice time together, and can enjoy the time spent together. I also have met with my homeless son at McDonalds and know how surreal the whole situation can seem. It feels to me like you handled the whole thing with beauty and grace.
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  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    COM, you began your post condemning yourself for your "angst".

    Honey, how could you feel any differently than you do? Birthdays are markers. Where you are now is nowhere you (or anybody else) ever wanted to be.

    But here is the other thing I see in your post.

    A bona fide miracle.

    They happen every day, all around us.

    You acted out of generosity and goodwill COM...and were rewarded in kind. You know now, that your son is not alone. You know he is behaving with integrity and even, with courage.

    You know he loves you.

    Cherish the miracle of that, COM.

    What would you have given, a few short weeks ago, to know these things about yourself and your son?

    How does that quote I am always quoting go?

    "For this relief, much thanks.

    'Tis bitter cold,
    And I am sick at heart."

    Shakespeare, but I don't remember which play.

    COM? I think your son is going to come through all this just fine. As it is with both my children, nothing about any of this looks the way it is "supposed" to.

    But haven't we been talking, here on the site, about the strength and courage it takes just to be real?

    I sometimes wonder how it is that kids with bright, committed parents, kids who were wanted and nurtured and cherished all of their lives are choosing to walk the paths they are undeniably on.

    So many of our kids, here on the site, seem to be decent, intelligent, highly ethical people looking at the world and their place in it from the strangest perspectives.

    For the most part, our kids don't fit the profile. They have people. They have places to go, access to education...they just don't want what we have.

    Not if they have to work for it, themselves they don't.

    So...what's really going on, here?

    Could be that I am slipping into a new kind of denial, here. But..none of our kids operate from a position of angst....

    I think what I am muddling my way toward here is detached acceptance. Let all the little stuff go, protect your cheese. (Remember that business book, Who Took My Cheese?)

    And enjoy the day.

    By choice if you have to, COM. Grit your teeth, gird your loins (unlike that floozy Echo, whipping off her underwear to go play tennis every
    time something goes wrong)


    ..and seize the day.

    None of us knows what our situations will be, next year at this time.

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  6. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    These rituals and celebrations can br so hard, bring out so much yearning, so much questioning. I feel for you here.

    I've been kind of eased into it. difficult child was in a therapeutic boarding school when he turned 16. When he turned 18 he was in an alcohol rehab center. This Christmas he was in jail. When he turned 20 we were in no contact.

    I'm used to it now. I kind of doubt it will ever make me sad again.

    I am so glad to hear this.

    This is kind of an amazing thing, isn't it? I've heard it over and over...and the book the Mole People, which Lucy and I have both read, (its about people living in tunnels under New York), makes a big deal of that. I remember Cedar talking about what her daughter told her...or was it Recovering? about how they check on each other, have their routines. My son has more than once described his days on the street to me...there is a sense of rhythm and structure to it, and sometimes a sense of caring. The sad part to me is that the "friends" disappear, they turn over pretty fast..they die, go to jail, move along, get hospitalized. There are no enduring relationships.

    Still, it must be nice for him to feel like he has peers, people who care for him, and an old guy who will give him 3 bucks.

    Oh I so so so hope for you that you can stay off the wheel...use your tools my friend. Go to Al Anon, pray, meditate, lose yourself in the smell of the beef burgundy. Light a white candle. Buy flowers with scent. Hold SO's face and look in his eyes for 30 seconds (it is a surprisingly long time).

    if their talk were good enough a lot of us (including you and me via our difficult children) would be in a pretty great place. But..we aren't, so....

    CAN I COME????

    Child, you can do this. You know how. You want to. You know it is best. You will be with your two sweet boys, you wlll have made a meal for them, it will be lovely. Be there, look at their faces, watch him blow out his candles. Let him be a man, separate from you. He is choosing his path, making his way. Allow. Breathe. Be there. You can do this, Child.

    This is a wonderful thing. I remember when he cursed at you when he got out of the car. You are so good at seeing and feeling the good moments. You sat there and spent time. You were present. It was good. Bring that to the birthday dinner tomorrow. It will be good again.

    That is a lovely thing.

    It is a very minor character from Hamlet, a guard (letting my english major freak flag fly)

    This quote got me through a lot of the winter.


    That is just the tip of the iceberg!

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm really sorry. But I'm also glad that difficult child seems to be thinking a bit about his life and feel more hopeful for him now.

    Have a serene and quiet evening :) We are all holding your hand.
  8. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I know how hard the birthdays are COM. I feel like the birthdays are worse than holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. To me birthdays remind me of the life I imagined for difficult child the day he was born compared to the life he's living now. It's very difficult for me to separate the two.

    Anyway - my head is kind of spinning with worries tonight but I wanted to let you know I am here reading along and sending you strength and lots of positive vibes!

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  9. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    I read your post three times, soaking it in and wanting to know what to say.

    While i have no wise words, your post includes the reality and the very real hope. When difficult child's express kindness and goodness, I am always so hopeful because that has not been husband's and my experience with our difficult child. As with Echo's difficult child, there is vulnerability and an expressed desire to change by by them. That seems extremely good, even if the difficult child does not follow through this time.

    And, i understand the not getting sucked into that. But, it is such real hope. My difficult child has not expressed anything close to that in over a decade.

    Here's to a good birthday observance. a celebration, with no harsh words, is huge.

    I am keeping you and yours in my prayers tonight. God's timing....and i am so happy you are there for this birthday.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm thinking about you COM. Hoping tomorrow is a good day for all. Please let us know how it goes.

    Sending good thoughts and hugs..........
  11. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I have a magnet on my fridge that says "A year from now, what will you wish you had done today?" You have prepared such a lovely celebration, one you all can always look back on with great fondness.

    I just wanted to add my name to the list of people sending good thoughts.
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  12. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    I'm hopeful you all had a peaceful celebration today and I get a chance to get online tomorrow to hear all about it. Silly me triple booked on a Monday of all days so if I don't make it here tomorrow know I'm sending good wishes and will keep you in my prayers

  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good luck and Happy Birthday to your son. Cory turned 28 on the 24th. (That means I have been on this board 15 years!!!)

    We do birthday's and holidays in some sort of way no matter what. This year Tony took Cory and his youngest daughter up to Jamie's house for 4 days. They had a good time. It was actually a celebration of Jamie, Hailie and Cory's birthdays all rolled into one because Jamie was born on 7/11, Hailie on 7/15 and Cory on 7/24. Yes July is a very busy month for Not to mention 7/15 is our anniversary. Been 31 years now!

    Yeah I wish Cory had done things so much differently. He had chances. He knows its all his fault. At this point he is trying so we just live a sort of superficial life.
  14. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Thank you to each and every one of you who posted above and who were here in thought and spirit even if you didn't post. I feel the silent witnesses and supporters here too. What a gift this place is.

    So....last night went well. Saturday I made the beef burgundy and a great chocolate cake, and that night SO and I went out to eat and then to get the Birthday Cake ice cream (that stuff is outrageously expensive for the amount you get...but whatever...I digress!).

    We picked difficult child up from the McDonald's at 4 yesterday. I had it all ready and had transported it to SO's house. He was so wonderfully sweet and supportive, had cleaned up his house, bought some things, had cleared out the washer and dryer in case difficult child wanted to use it, etc. Just a wonderful man and a wonderful support for me.

    difficult child did ask if he could wash clothes, so he got that going, took a shower at SO's house---said he had not had a shower since Thursday. He was low-key, kind of quiet, said thank you multiple times, seemed a little uncomfortable, kept saying he was tired, but very cooperative. When easy child and fiancee got there we all went outside to play with their new Corgi puppy and Emily and sat outside for a while, until time for dinner, went back in finished up the food and we ate. The dinner was good and I think everybody enjoyed it. Then we did the cake, singing Happy Birthday and presents and SO and Fiancee took some pictures of the three of us---easy child, difficult child and me---which was nice.

    No drama. No issues. He said he was going back to the Goodwill Career Solutions today to see about the job. My parents gave him $50 and he at first asked me or easy child to get the check cashed for him. SO and I had already discussed this...I didn't want to get involved with SO looked on his phone quickly and found several places that will cash personal checks with ID and told difficult child that so that situation was averted. He said he wanted to get an apartment, and probably by himself so he doesn't have to worry about somebody not paying or whatever. I said, sounds good. He said, do you know of any? I said, Not really.

    That is the type of stuff I don't want to get involved with. A 25-year-old can find his own place to live and figure that part out. He also had commented last week that he needs a bike. And a job.

    So, I know how I would do it all....but I kept quiet. He needs to figure out the baby steps that will lead him out of where he is right now.

    That is an important part of this.

    So I didn't engage, and I didn't advise, and you know, actually, right now it's good that he doesn't have a phone. Good for me. Because I have been there done that and I know what happens after we see each other a couple of times in a row with not much time in between and then he starts texting and calling and I start thinking of how I can help.............and the slide.............happens.

    I don't want to be a part of that.

    So back to last night: A couple of times we were sitting there, all 5 of us (puppy great icebreaker!) and there was silence, and I started to get antsy so I jumped up and went to the kitchen to fool around there. They left about 8---easy child and fiancee took him back to the McDonald's and dropped him off (thank God I didn't have to do that, and I told easy child how much I appreciated HIM doing that) and I went home and went to bed.

    40,000-foot view: It went well. I could feel myself getting hopeful and watching him closely to figure out (what? Figure out what?) what his point of view is, how is he REALLY doing, and I tried just not to GO THERE. But I did in my head a bit anyway.

    He does seem better. I don't want to get too invested in that, for my own sake, and time and actions will tell, but he does seem a bit better.

    Sigh. Who knows? He is now a 25 year old man. Old enough. He needs to keep on keeping on and walk through this process himself or not. I can't live it or do it or make it that much easier for him.

    I will help him if and when he starts to show some decent and consistent action, and he knows that.

    That is all I need to do for today. Time will tell. I am good today. I am now wanting some space and distance. SO and I are taking his daughter up to her univ. this week to move into her apartment so that will be a nice little physical and mental break. I have a couple of days to work here and then we leave on Thursday, back late Friday.

    Just let time take its time. That is my thought today. Warm hugs and many thanks to you great people.
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  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Thanks for updating us, COM.

    I'm happy for you that you had this time with your family, and that all went well.

  16. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Ah, I thought of you all day yestarday.
    I am so glad to hear that things went well.

    That would have been hard. I'm glad easy child did it for you.

    Yes. One new rule for me has been that if some one (anyone! other than my boss of course...) asks me a question or a favor that involves me having to do research (google, phone calls, anything)...I say no. Because you know what? I COULD learn all about it (what apartments are available, what the hours of the social security office are, how to enroll at community college) and share my knowledge ...or ...the person who needs the info can become the expert and own the knowledge. So as soon as I find myself about to search on google...I stop.

    This is where we all fall down. Getting hopeful, watching closely, trying to read the signs, as though where he is at this moment has any doesn't. It is where he is over long periods of time that has meaning. But I do the same. I can't stop. Unless there is no contact.

    Yes Child, in my mind this is a defining philosopy for you, and so helpful, so true.

    I am taking a class in mindful listening and of the basic tenets is that before engaging with some one, anyone, take 30 seconds to take them in..really look at them, feel their mood, their posture, their skin tone. Feel who they are, breath, engage..and then speak. Taking one's time with everything is good. Always.

    I'm glad this milestone has come and gone in what sounds like, honestly, a bittersweet manner. It sounds like you remained true to yourself. That is all we can do.

    Hugs to you today, Mom,

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  17. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    We take every little bit of good and celebrate it for as long as it lasts. We deserve that....they deserve that.
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  18. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I'm so glad it went well. I have had you (and beef burgundy and birthday cake ice cream) on my mind the past couple of days. Thanks for updating us.
  19. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    So glad it went well. I was thinking of you yesterday, which was my husbands birthday as well.

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  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for the update. I was thinking about you too COM. And, all in all, it sounds like a good day. You done good girl! :triumphant: