I invited my son to come over and eat dinner. He had told me he was about to leave our town forever, to return to the big City a few hours away, which was our home. He angled to stay here a few nights. I said no. He walked right out, without saying goodbye. He had not eaten a bite. He called back and apologized and I was grateful to be communicating. The times we are not talking are so hard on me. The hardest thing of all. My son told me he is sick and tired of rotating couches here in our town and wants to go to the City to stay for three months in a shelter. But what he wanted more he said was to stay here with us. My SO wanted strongly to let him come home and give him another chance. So we said yes. Last night we worked out an agreement. With firm conditions. As long as he was here at the house he agreed to work with my SO doing physical labor, and the next day he would help him doing tile work. Four months ago I insisted my son leave our house after he had been here a week or two. He had agreed to enroll in college courses online, and was not following through. That had been the condition to stay here. My son has had no direction in his life, and has couch surfed for almost 4 years. In that time he was four months in residential treatment, and four months working as a home health aide. Since he got SSI for mental illness, he has worked only sporadically. This morning M my SO came to kiss me goodbye before leaving for work. Is son going with you I asked? I can't do everything, M replied, scowling, and left. I got up, and my son was still laying down. I asked him his plans. He said, M said it was a good idea that I work on getting my chest xray today. (He needs a chest xray to enter the shelter in the large city near us as he tests positive for TB.) I responded: Here is the computer. Buy your train ticket. The agreement was that you would work today. This is what I don't want. (What I meant was I do not want him laying around all day, not keeping commitments, putting all responsibility on others, and generally playing manipulative games.) Son: Can't I go to work with M now? Me: No. You made your decision. You knew the terms. You chose otherwise. Wouldn't it be easier just to work, I said, exasperated? Later in the day (he left for several hours) I dropped him off in our town at a place where he hoped to couch surf for the night and leave for the big city the next day. He did not say goodbye. It all happened so quick. Not even 24 hours. My SO is so loving to him. He offers open arms, with conditions. It is not because he is an easy mark. He knows that my son will hang or save himself and that M loses nothing by acting hopeful and accepting. I am fearful, wary, pessimistic. I have learned that I cannot trust what my son says. That he will agree to anything to gain what he wants in the moment. What he promises one day means nothing the next. I told my son before he left, we will help you, but not to lay around. When you decide you want to do something constructive, and show us you are serious about it, we will help you. I am sad. Not as sad as I was before when I did not hear from him, but sad. It was so wonderful to have him near me. To watch him respond to a safe place to stay, security. He looks awful at first. I am so reassured when he perks back up. And then this happens. It is particularly painful because yesterday my son confessed to me that he was not taking his anti-viral that he needed for his Hepatitis. I worry. As I write this I realize that maybe he never wanted to stay here at all. He was looking for a comfortable few nights, without conditions, tried and settled for one. It is so, so painful to me. I will not help him loaf around the house. No way I will do that. But I miss him. On my end of things, we left with an open door. It's his call. Is there another way to see it? Is it a mistake to keep giving chances? Perhaps I need to welcome him home for say a weekend every month without conditions. And leave the matter of his changing or not entirely to him. But then he asked to come home. I am entitled to place conditions. What do you think?