He left. What's next for me?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son left my town today. While I am relieved, I feel empty. I feel like I no longer exist, in a way, that the person I was is no longer here.

    In March after an extended period mourning the death of my mother, my off and on homeless son came back to my home. In April, I joined this forum, after I had ejected him from my house.

    Since that time his presence on the streets of my town and near them consumed me and defined my life.

    Before that had been the decision to care for my Mother until she died. And then after she died, I thought I would.

    I have not worked since October, 2012. Since that time my life has felt as if consumed by forces beyond my control.

    I know I decided to go to my Mother. I know I decided to bring her home with me. I know I decided to permit my son to come back.

    But I had no way to know what each of these decisions would mean to me and my life. And not all in a bad way.

    If I had not decided in those ways, I would not have found all of you.

    So, why I am posting this new thread?

    I have dedicated so much time, words, anguish to my son, I have been left behind. So have you. We are survivors of our children, of our lives.

    This thread begins my focus on myself. Let me write a little preface.

    COM had a thread a month or so ago. It was about True North.

    If you were going where you needed to go as a person, in the most essential way, where would that be.

    The concept of betrayal of self, came up on the FOO thread, yesterday and today. I did not understand the concept.

    The discussion began with this idea: When something very important is at stake, where not everybody can be pleased it is better to be trustworthy to oneself and disloyal to others.

    Still, as I read those words I am almost as if clueless. Let me try again. If to be true to yourself, you must anger, leave or even betray someone else, choose the former. Be true to yourself. Even if you must betray the other.

    I realized something rather important, when I tried to understand these statements. I am not at all aware of having a self.

    Well, of course, I know I do, but my poor self, is very much disregarded by me. I never, ever consider my own needs in the sense of my self, unless, it is necessary to consult with my self in order to be a good and responsible person to others.

    I know myself by my deeds. I know myself by my responsibilities and commitments. I know myself by my achievements. I know myself by my choices.

    I do not know myself very well based upon my needs. I do not know myself based upon gentle and caring listening to my self. I do not know myself by paying attention to my hurts, my pain...until it is too late and there is an emergency.

    I only listen to myself when I am felled. Almost dead in the road.

    Typically I know there is an emergency when I get sick (my digestive system, or even to the point of hives.) I have ignored myself to such a prolonged extent that my body breaks down.

    I am not a gentle companion to myself. I do not treat myself with patience or with respect. I do not listen to music I love. I numb myself out with 24 hour news. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    That is not to say I do not respect myself. I have enormous respect for myself. As a creation. As an object.

    But it is quite different to treat my self with respect. To treat myself as worthy of care, gentle devotion. And to expect that others do the same.

    So, in summary, I want to declare my revised True North. To do what ever it takes to become acquainted with my self. And once I have made my acquaintance, to begin a relationship with my self of care and utmost respect and devotion.

    I invite all of you to participate. It is not about me. It is about all of us and each of us. I invite anybody who chooses to participate. I will.

    I will continue to post on the FOO thread, as long as there is one. Perhaps, that is where this belongs. But first I wanted to post here, an open invitation, to anybody who feels that it might pertain to them. To join us there. Or to continue here.

    Thank you,

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    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You write eloquently Copa..... how you put your thoughts down is inspiring and moving...........the content, however, is sad.... and familiar....

    I could have said many of those things you write about a couple of years ago........my "self" was floundering at best, invisible at the worst. The wounds of childhood can leave us so doubting of our value that our value is only found in what we do, in how we take care of......not in who we are......not in "being."

    My true north is love. However, it wasn't at all clear most of my life because I did not love myself, I put that love out there in my caring for others, where I believed my value was.

    Being a woman adds to this dilemma, being valued for our mothering, our care taking, our nurturing, our giving........being wounded ups the ante considerably to the realm of downright insanity. We can perfect that false persona to the heights of an academy award level.........but the self just quietly disappears even more. Getting better at giving and caring for and doing is not the answer. Being a martyr, being a rescuer, being a codependent, being a giver who cannot receive.....just lands us in the same empty hole, the same depleted place of non existence. I hear you Copa.

    I told you how I entered that 2 year codependency program almost 2 years ago now.......I can't put into words now grateful I am for it, it gave me my life......it changed everything, every. single. thing. I was ready to hear what was said to me, I was ready to surrender, I had no more fight in me. I didn't care if I fell apart or broke, I wanted to find out where I had gone, what had become of me. After over 20 years of therapy, I still hadn't found myself. My daughter, bless her, forced me to look for myself......and I did, and I found me......

    Every day since then I have been making changes, big and small, and each one has lead me to a very different experience of life and very importantly, of love. Loving oneself shifts all of it around so that all perceptions change and then of course, everything changes. Giving without opening to receiving depletes the life force, it is out of balance. We have to make that right, find the balance point and open our hearts to receive. It sounds simple, and it is, except if you don't know how, then it is impossible. I had to be taught, since I had not learned in childhood that I was loved......I had to accept, I had to let go, I had to be vulnerable, I had to give up control........it was an arduous journey.......worth risking everything for.

    You, my friend, are in a pivotal, exciting and life changing place right now. Your son walked you to the door, now open it and step inside........you are worthy of that "care", that "gentle devotion".......all of us here can readily see that.....now you will see it too......I am happy to read your post Copa.......

    Your son has left.......now it's YOUR time, to focus on YOU, to nurture YOU, to give to YOU, to take care of YOU, to love YOU.

    I like your word devotion......perhaps that is one of the biggest changes for me, I am now devoted to me.......and remarkably, my devotion to others has expanded across the board.......and as that devotion comes back to me....everyone is nourished.
  3. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    In the religious/philosophical school I practice under, this is not considered a bad state of affairs.

    Khephri, the neter that is the dung or scarab beetle, embodies rebirth or becoming of the self. Khephri collects all the poop she can find, lays an egg in it, pushes it around until she finds the best place to bury it, then leaves it behind and walks away.

    Eventually a new being hatches from that ball of dung.

    When you quit pushing your respective ball of :censored2: around, lay your egg in it and walk away. The Self that hatches out of that ball of :censored2: also walks away. She is done with that particular ball; there may be other :censored2: that happens but that's going to be a completely different ball of poop. The egg that hatches out of that collective ball is no longer the Self that spent all that time pushing it around.

    The hieroglyphs for the process can translate into: "I have come into being; by the process of becoming I continue to come into being." Time in that way isn't a circle, it is a spiral. Each level up may look the same but it is never the same. The person you were last week, last month, last year is never the same as who you are now.

    This kind of change isn't a bad thing at all. Don't return to the Past Self.
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  4. Feeling Sad

    Feeling Sad Active Member

    Wow, Copa, and RE, very well-written! This is some meaty stuff.

    I have always had a very difficult time thinking about myself. As a child, I took care of things. I was the 'good' girl, because my parents had my schizophrenic sister, a sister who had low grades and partied, and my brother who was born with a bad heart and had asthma. I was well-behaved, for the most part, and received good grades. I was the one, always, that my family looked to to help out or fix things. I had the answers.

    I worked always helping others. In 7th grade, I tutored reading at an elementary school, worked as a candy- striper, or volunteer, in a hospital, and helped to put on shows in convalescence hospitals.

    In college, I worked on the helpline at college. My first call was from a mother out of state telling me that her son had taken pills, and I called back-up and his life was saved. Later on, I worked in contact with protective services for child abuse and neglect cases and saved 3 children's lives. I was a psychology major, and then special education.

    I am listing all of this because I have ALWAYS helped others. I don't even realize who I am, but rather always, how I am deficient or lacking. Or how I could have done something better to help someone else!

    I remember as a kid, taking the sad, forgotten stuffed animal on its side in the back when I won a prize at the carnival. I felt sorry for it and wanted to save it.

    It is very true, that our culture teaches and encourages women, to be self-less. We are to care for others. Not think of ourselves, but rather, think of how we can help others. To be thinking of just ourselves, especially as a woman, is looked upon as being very selfish.

    I feel that women, as a whole, feel more guilty. I wrestle with guilt every day. I worry about how I am perceived by others. I am always polite and rarely, if ever, say no to a favor.

    Then...motherhood. I love being a mother. But, I have to admit, when I was playing with my Barbie growing up, it was never even close to what my life is now! I had to borrow my friend's Ken. My Barbie only had a long strapless number in black and lingerie. ..you would think that she would have had more dates!!!

    But I digress. I went to dance and modeling lessons in my teens. Why, you ask? So that I would learn proper deportment...to attract a perfect husband. Being divorced twice, I do not think these courses were 'effective'!

    My mother taught me that woman just go to college to meet well-educated men with good prospects. Nevermind, thinking about your own education or career.

    Then you have kids... She told me to always put fresh lipstick on before your husband got home. The house was to be clean and I should keep the kids quiet. Where were the things about me or for me?

    If something was or is wrong with one of my 3 sons...I feel guilty. Did I do something wrong...not enough or too much, to have caused this problem?

    Today, with my schizophrenic son, who I had to file a restraining order against because of fear of my youngest son or myself being hurt...I feel guily. Right now, I have to force myself to add...or myself. I do not register 'myself'. What keeps me resolved that I did the only thing that I could do in this situation is that I am keeping my youngest son from harm. If it was just me, I would probably still be trying with him living here. Trying and trying and trying. If I had been hurt, that would be my fault, too!!!

    Then, trying for nine years for him to get treatment. That is My fault, as well. I failed. Never mind that he lacks insight into his illness or that he was very violent and threatened my life when I brought up the topic of seeing a doctor. Still my fault. I kick myself every day that I failed.

    I am a special education teacher. I have helped hundreds of kids...but I "failed" my own.

    If you ask me if I am a kind person, I would say yes...but inside I would be thinking that I could or should be EVEN better!

    I think that I have zero self-esteem. Or it might be in the negative numbers...

    If someone asked me to be true North, I would respond,"What direction do you want to go in?"
  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    How funny Feeling.
    Me too. I never even got a husband.

    Well, with respect to a self, we have to start somewhere, don't we? If you have time, why not check out the thread that Nerf started on the Precepts. So far there is an introduction thread and No. 1.

    I think we are in the same boat, Feeling. In several ways. In the era we came from the idea of having any care for oneself, was foreign, among middle class type people. Our upbringings were hard.

    Our ambition was largely centered on others and on external achievements. And then there was family.

    In my case there is no excuse. I willfully turned away from myself. I never considered me.

    I will now.

    Nerf and Recovering bring up something interesting and true. That having everything falling apart around one is an opportunity. That feeling as if the old self you were no longer exists...leaves the potential for wonderfulness, creating something new.

    We just have to figure out how to do it and with what. The possibilities are endless. Except I do not yet really know one.

    Our sons are still very much with us.

    Please take care to post about this. Maybe start a new thread. About what it is feeling like for you.

    Feeling, I for one relate. I believe many of us do. Do not sit alone with it. Please. That is no good.

    You will be gearing up to go back to school, soon. Maybe you want to post a mission statement. A way to put out what your fears are and how you will conquer them. Or the other way around. What you want to conquer, and what the barriers might be.

    Most everybody has been in a place similar to yours. If they have not yet, they will be. We all gain by sharing. That is my belief.

    Those of you who are up late...I am wondering why. It is still the middle of the night in some places, and it is getting quite late where I am. So I will sign off.

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  6. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I have felt too much about and for people who used those "feelings" as a weapon to destroy me. I allowed it. I am transitioning into a person who will not allow others to abuse me emotionally. The response from those nearest and dearest to me has been extremely hateful.

    I will except your invitation.
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  7. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    My perspective on this is it's good thing.

    It's like when we clean out a closet, we take everything out so it's empty, nothing exists in the closet. Now, we look around and we pick and choose what will go back into the closet. We pick only things that are useful and we carefully put them back into the closet. Now, there is still some empty space in the closet and now we get to find new stuff to put in the closet.

    Just as with our "closets" it's good to do and inventory of ourselves at least once a year. Check to see what fits, what might need a minor repair and what needs to go.

    It is in our nature to be givers, nurturers, selfless. These are wonderful qualities to posses and I'm grateful for them. I am also grateful for the lessons I learned while dealing with my son and all his chaos. I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. I learned it's okay to no. I learned it's okay to put myself first. I am better equipped to discern what I will or won't allow into my life.

    It has been quite a journey and many times I was not sure I would make it as the path became so dark and the storms were violent but I made it. Because of all that I have been through in my life I know I am so much better equipped to handle whatever is down the road.

    So, here's to cleaning out those closets and having a fresh start!!

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  8. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    accept not except.....my brain is jell-o
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    We knew that, PASA.

    I mean, not that your brain has turned to jello. Although we get that too, because ours have as well. What we know is that you know how to spell accept.

    Is there any way out of this, so that I can leave this post with dignity?
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  10. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    You knew the Jell-O part..........Hmmmmm nice:hammer:
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start
    By Anne Lamott
    Illustration: Brian Cronin
    We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren't? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?

    Here's how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake's line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.

    Oh, yeah, and whenever I could, for as long as I could, I threw away the scales and the sugar.

    When I was a young writer, I was talking to an old painter one day about how he came to paint his canvases. He said that he never knew what the completed picture would look like, but he could usually see one quadrant. So he'd make a stab at capturing what he saw on the canvas of his mind, and when it turned out not to be even remotely what he'd imagined, he'd paint it over with white. And each time he figured out what the painting wasn't, he was one step closer to finding out what it was.

    You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think your way into becoming yourself.

    I can't tell you what your next action will be, but mine involved a full stop. I had to stop living unconsciously, as if I had all the time in the world. The love and good and the wild and the peace and creation that are you will reveal themselves, but it is harder when they have to catch up to you in roadrunner mode. So one day I did stop. I began consciously to break the rules I learned in childhood: I wasted more time, as a radical act. I stared off into space more, into the middle distance, like a cat. This is when I have my best ideas, my deepest insights. I wasted more paper, printing out instead of reading things on the computer screen. (Then I sent off more small checks to the Sierra Club.)

    Every single day I try to figure out something I no longer agree to do. You get to change your mind—your parents may have accidentally forgotten to mention this to you. I cross one thing off the list of projects I mean to get done that day. I don't know all that many things that are positively true, but I do know two things for sure: first of all, that no woman over the age of 40 should ever help anyone move, ever again, under any circumstances. You have helped enough. You can say no. No is a complete sentence. Or you might say, "I can't help you move because of certain promises I have made to myself, but I would be glad to bring sandwiches and soda to everyone on your crew at noon." Obviously, it is in many people's best interest for you not to find yourself, but it only matters that it is in yours—and your back's—and the whole world's, to proceed.

    Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-To-Find-Out-Who-You-Really-Are-by-Anne-Lamott#ixzz3huWw3MtUBecoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start
    By Anne Lamott
    PAGE 2

    And, secondly, you are probably going to have to deal with whatever fugitive anger still needs to be examined—it may not look like anger; it may look like compulsive dieting or bingeing or exercising or shopping. But you must find a path and a person to help you deal with that anger. It will not be a Hallmark card. It is not the yellow brick road, with lovely trees on both sides, constant sunshine, birdsong, friends. It is going to be unbelievably hard some days—like the rawness of birth, all that blood and those fluids and shouting horrible terrible things—but then there will be that wonderful child right in the middle. And that wonderful child is you, with your exact mind and butt and thighs and goofy greatness.

    Dealing with your rage and grief will give you life. That is both the good news and the bad news: The solution is at hand. Wherever the great dilemma exists is where the great growth is, too. It would be very nice for nervous types like me if things were black-and-white, and you could tell where one thing ended and the next thing began, but as Einstein taught us, everything in the future and the past is right here now. There's always something ending and something beginning. Yet in the very center is the truth of your spiritual identity: is you. Fabulous, hilarious, darling, screwed-up you. Beloved of God and of your truest deepest self, the self that is revealed when tears wash off the makeup and grime. The self that is revealed when dealing with your anger blows through all the calcification in your soul's pipes. The self that is reflected in the love of your very best friends' eyes. The self that is revealed in divine feminine energy, your own, Bette Midler's, Hillary Clinton's, Tina Fey's, Michelle Obama's, Mary Oliver's. I mean, you can see that they are divine, right? Well, you are, too. I absolutely promise. I hope you have gotten sufficiently tired of hitting the snooze button; I know that what you need or need to activate in yourself will appear; I pray that your awakening comes with ease and grace, and stamina when the going gets hard. To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are.

    Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-To-Find-Out-Who-You-Really-Are-by-Anne-Lamott#ixzz3huWUpAxR
  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    How do we stop being who we aren't. Isn't that something.

    A paradigm shift; a new way of seeing altogether. Not who we should be or who or how we would like to be or wish we were at all. To gently stop being who we are not.

    Ha! Too true.

    How sweet and true this is.

    I love the part about extensive reading.


    We were just posting about this very thing on the Precepts thread.

    About roadrunner mode.

    This is great imagery.

    How many times have we all lifted and carried burdens that were not, strictly speaking, any of our business at all and then, suffered for having done so.


    I wonder whether this is true. People who are tapping into our shame issues, into our vulnerabilities then, to enslave us will not like it when we choose to see ourselves and the world differently. This is true. But people who love us not only don't leave us, they walk the changing path with us, changing themselves as we change.

    So it would become a sacred obligation then for each of us to find our better, clearer selves, for all our sakes. Like we always say here, we only have influence with ourselves and no one else, at all.

    Ha! Yes!!!

    I love that you posted this for us, Copa. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

    I am going to put this on my fridge.

    Or laughter.

    Sometimes, it is joy that washes through us and when it is gone, there we are, wide, wide open.

    This is what we are doing on the FOO Chronicles.

    This is it, exactly.

    This is so beautiful.

    Thanks, Copa.

  13. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing, Copa! I loved this. Have the library online catalog pulled up on another tab...I'm stopping by to check a Lamott book out today. While I have read a little bit about ALamott, I never knew how helpful her writing might be for me right now.
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    So, maybe this is what our children are doing.

    One cannot find one's self by going here and there, in terms of a destination, like college. The self is found through mistakes. By discovering where we should not go. Who we should not be. Do not want to do or be.

    They are becoming by falling through the cracks. By walking into walls. Could our children be getting college degrees in creating a self?
    Staring into the distance, instead of straight ahead. Wasting time not filling it. De-cluttering one's mind and life. Instead of filling it.

    What is there when nothing else is. In the cracks. Where anger or pain or confusion or doubt seeps through.

    If we allow ourselves those moments. Who we are and what we need is there. Each minute. Each day.

    Instead of running from it or towards it. Fixing it. Or trying to douse it out. Or responding to our children's pain and distress by doing the same.

    Annie speaks about daily crossing off of her to do list something, eliminating the non-essential person, place or thing. To be in time, without condition or container, not filling it up, not using it, like it is a thing to be exploited for gain or for utility. An end in itself not a means to an end.
    In the FOO thread we are seeing that. That our lives as children and young women are right there in our struggles and angst over our children. Because we cannot leave our children. We have no choice but to deal with our pasts. And we create the possibility future, through this collapsing on top of us of everything.
    This speaks to faith. In ourselves and for ourselves and in our children, and for them.

    This may be the rage of my son. I undercut his strength by my fear instead of faith.

    Before every young adult needed to go to college, before there were antivirals for Hepatitis, before there was a fast track at all.

    Not even private property. Only the Village Commons. No suburban home. A cottage or hut. There were series of moments. Random roads to here and there. Impulses to do or not. Craving the beautiful, that which feels good. Suffering the effects or mourning its loss. The need to escape and the pain of waking up.
    And through the accretion of experience, bad and good, by deliberate choice to avoid what is not, and the deliberate seeking what is. We emerge. And that is exactly what our children are doing.
    We find ourselves through paring down the inessential and not through going anywhere, doing or getting anything. This is what we are learning on Nerf's Precepts thread.
    So we have the choice to see our paths with our Difficult Children this way, and ourselves too.

    That this whole horribleness is a boot camp for self-finding. We didn't choose it. We do not want it. We have no choice but to deal with it. Because we cannot leave our children. We follow them...where they go...even if it is only in our private agonies. Not knowing this is the exact thing we need.

    That their travails and ours with them reveal who we are. And always were. And our children, too.
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    We do. From positions of weakness ~ for me, this is true. From a place of desperate fear which precludes strength or faith.

    To the degree that, having tried all the fear-based stuff, we choose to be a different kind of mother, a different kind of self. We choose that, rooting out the fear and coming out clean.

    Maybe this is true, or maybe it is justifying choices already made.

    That's the thing.

    You never know.

    So we are in that place of not knowing a darn thing again.

    But it doesn't feel like a complacent choice to me this time. It feels like I literally don't know.

    Which means I am neither predicting nor catastrophizing nor regretting. For this audience, for whom I am writing this post, this is true.

    But the truth is that I deeply regret what has happened to all of us.

    So this must be the Now; must be the Power of Now. This must be Presence.

    It doesn't hold up very well to the immediacy of a child's pain. I can sit with it right now because right now, Now is an acceptable, and even a pleasant, thing.

    I'm just sayin'.

  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son just called.

    SON: Hi.

    ME: Hi (No how are you, no what's up. Just hi.)

    SON: Well, I worked Tuesday and Wednesday. Today is the only day I have to go to the hospital and get my blood work done. Craig, the roommate took the key, so I have to wait for him to get home (the excuse reveals itself.) I will go today because I will not have another chance for awhile because of work.

    ME: Oh.

    Son: I will call you tonight and let you know.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Me too. For you and for me. And for M, who I am mad at, but regret his suffering for his children.
    Cedar, think of yourself at work. And holding steady with a patient. His agony. Her fear. All he or she has at that moment is your presence. Your strength and your love. The connection between you and your presence with him at the moment?
    Does it not feel enough, at that moment? For your patient and for you? For me, it is. It has been.

    I remember a man I knew with AIDS. About 15 years ago, before there were such effective treatments or any treatment at all.

    A gorgeous Black man in his 30's dying in prison. Alone. And he cried with me. I held him while he cried. His tears dripping onto my face. I could not do anything except what I did. Be there. Cry for him and with him and for myself.

    Thank you for crying with me, he said. Nobody ever did that before. Thank you. And for that moment, it was enough.

    Cedar, there must be thousands and thousands of moments like that for you in your work.

    To my shame, I have not been able to summon up that space for my own child. At least not enough.

    Apparently, because he is not enrolled in College.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015