I know there are a lot of newer members here, you can find my backstory on my profile page. December 18, we found out that difficult child had dropped out of classes at community college and had been lying to our faces about attending class and his grades. The next day we picked up my mom for an extended Christmas visit in our home, PC19 came home 12/20 and the whole thing got swept aside in a “teeth clenched, fake smile plastered on” effort to not let it ruin the holidays. Of course, difficult child disappeared for 4 days and Christmas Eve morning was spent in a phoning frenzy trying to locate him and hoping he was OK. He finally came home on Christmas Eve at around 2, went to sleep, we went to Mass without him at 5 and I awoke him at 7 for dinner. We went to my mom’s house Christmas Day – she lives about 2 hours away – and we traditionally spend Christmas night there. The boys (my own & my nephews) were talking about colleges at their end of the table. It filtered down to us. PC16 is the only one still in HS and he was getting advice from all ends and difficult child was encouraging PC16 to pick a big PAC12 school that is too far away and wholly unsuitable for PC17. I added my own 2 cents and was chastised by difficult child who told me I need to let PC16 pick his own school and I couldn’t help but shoot back firmly “you are the LAST person who should be giving ANYONE college advice.” No surprise that difficult child later asked his brothers to drive him home around 9pm, because he had to suddenly work (it was snowing; he does plow, but REALLY? He was out of town and it was CHRISTMAS) and we said “no way.” He had a friend pick him up at around 1am and he has not spent a single night with us since. He attended a long planned NFL game with his brothers and dad on 12/29, left again and he popped back home for a minute to say goodbye to PC19 – who went back to school - 1/1/14. He texted me the next day (1/2) to tell me he wouldn’t be home that night, texted me 1/3 to tell me he was going up north to snowboard and he would text me when he arrived there safely. He also told me he would be back 1/5/14. Of course, that was the last I heard from him for 5 days. I finally texted him 1/7/14 to state “Dead? Or Alive? “ and he replied “Alive”. We shared 2-3 anecdotal texts since then and on Wed he called me to tell me he was coming to dinner Thursday night. (I think H was in touch with him) He came to dinner last night, we were really pleasant, and I barely touched on the situation at hand. I did state unequivocally that I was incredibly offended that he had been lying to my face for 3 months about school – including staying out of the house when he supposedly had class. I also told him that we sent him back to school and paid his tuition against our better judgment; that we knew we shouldn’t trust him – but that we put faith in him based upon our love for him. And that we would always love him - no matter what – but that our love could no longer override our lack of trust. And I told him I assumed he was moving out, that I supported his decision to do so and that I wished him well. I asked him what his plans were and he said to continue to work and eventually get back into school. I wished him luck – without sarcasm - and told him I hope it all works out. And I do hope it does - but frankly, he has blown way too many chances and just keeps repeating the same mistakes. He hasn’t grown at all since the day he walked out in Sept 2011 and he has nothing to show for the past 2-1/2 years. So, I will hope and pray for him, but I really am not hopeful that he will turn a corner or wake up anytime soon. I did tell him that we would always be here for him, that he always has a home hear and that we would be willing to pay for counseling should he desire help now or ever. And that we would always love him wholeheartedly. We sat down, had a very pleasant dinner. We had normal chitchat, I invited him for dinner on Sunday and promised to make extra for him to take home. After dinner, he packed a lot of his clothes, said he would try to come on Sunday if he could get a ride and he gave us a kiss goodbye. No rancor, no fighting, no storming. My mommy heart is just sick over the fact that he is throwing his life away. If he left college because he couldn’t afford it, if he were pursuing a trade or had a “grown up” job and something to show for himself, I would be OK with this. It’s not about him dropping out of college – it’s about him checking out of MATURING and GROWING. My conscience is clear though, we paid the tuition in good faith and also as a way of knowing that we gave him an open-hearted and second chance to do what he said he wanted - to go back to school. We’ve always second guessed cutting him off the first time and maybe it just assuaged our guilt to pay for this second chance. I don’t know, but at least WE tried, even if he didn’t. I have to let that be enough for now. We didn’t push him in this direction, we gave him a chance to reset and start over and he blew that too. Ironically, yesterday was PC16’s “Junior Conference” at the HS – the initial college conference with his guidance counselor. Of course, it was my 3rd such conference having been there done that with difficult child and PC19. I remember having complete confidence in difficult child’s ability to succeed in college at his own Junior Conference. I also remember counting my blessings while we were there – his test scores & GPA were good, difficult child was a diligent and self-motivated HS student and I had no doubts about his ability to succeed and thrive away at school. I remember that feeling that our “hand’s on” raising of difficult child was nearly complete and we had been successful, good parents and we were on our way to the next phase in our life. I’ll admit it; I was smug! HA! I can’t help but think of the phrase from the Mariner’s Poem “…He went like one that hath been stunned, And is of sense forlorn: A sadder and a wiser man, He rose the morrow morn…” I know he is on a lousy path and I know he may never hit a bottom, he may just spend the rest of his life as a slacker and user. And I am learning and trying to honor his choices for his own life. I guess against all odds, I am getting used to this new normal. He’s nearly 22, he will have to live with the brunt of his choices. I did my best and I think I will always be sad about the “could’ve or should’ve” but it sure beats the heck out of the painful crisis/estranged mode we were once in.