I sat down to write this, had the whole first paragraph worked out already, but now it’s gone. It’s a shame; I think it was a real attention grabber. I’m not too worried about it though, many things in my life seem to work that way these days. Typical, middle aged shit, you know? Walk into a room and forget why you’re there, momentarily forget how to work the remote control, can’t remember which kid just walked out the door and where they said they were going.
Some of it, I’m sure, has to do with age. A lot of it, I know, has to do with stress. I’m used to stress, being a single parent of first, three very young children, and now, a single parent of three teenage children. Perhaps it’s stress combined with the inevitable aging process that is making things particularly difficult. I’ve always been a worrier, but now I worry more than ever about a number of things.
As my kids were growing up, I always tried to impart little bits of wisdom along the way to prepare them for what lie ahead. I was my mom’s second kid at the tender age of sixteen, so I’ve always been upfront about sex, birth control, abstinence (yeah, right), and thinking about actions and consequences. Alcoholism and drug abuse runs strong on both sides of their family, so that was always a big topic as they were growing up- how it works, its effects, how it can sneak up on you, and how they were predisposed to struggle with it.
All those little discussions, all the wisdom I tried to dispense in small, easy to digest pieces? It all seems like I was just wasting my breath now. I watch as my nineteen-year-old son competes with friends to see who can drink the most and stay standing. He bragged to me the other day the he thought he’s consumed more alcohol in two years of drinking than I have in my life (I have been a heavy drinker at several points in my life). See? Nothing sunk in. I see my other two up-and-coming addicts shake their heads at him, but I know they could easily end up in the same boat any day.
So yeah, I worry a lot. I worry about that late night phone call that parents fear more than their own demise. I worry about everything that could happen to them, in spite of my teachings, my planning; my years spent trying to prevent them from making those mistakes. I even told myself as I was doing it, ‘This is bullshit. They’re gonna do what they want to do anyway.’
But you know what makes me worry a lot lately? I worry that somewhere along the way, I got lost. I can’t remember who I am anymore, hell, I’m not even sure I ever was anybody. Did I ever have an independent or intelligent thought? Everything happened so quickly, I’m not sure I ever was. Who am I going to be when my kids are gone and off making whatever mistakes or great choices they will. I know, this is a typical empty nester question, but it’s scary. They have been my identity for so long, and I don’t know who else I can be. Some forgetful, brainless, middle-aged broad with nothing to say to anyone.
As an adolescent, I had big dreams, big plans. Move out, get my own place, be successful in some capacity- a rock star would have been nice, or a famous designer… But then life happened, and it didn’t include any of those glamorous plans. My first big move was ‘in’ with a controlling boyfriend. I spent my late teens and early twenties trying to gnaw my way out of that one. After that, I gravitated toward men who had no control, no control over me or over themselves. That didn’t work either. It made me a single mother of three kids, three amazing kids that I can only hope make better choices than I did, and won’t let what happens to them make them forget what they want to happen.
As for me, my journey of self-discovery will continue; I just hope there is something to discover under all the worry and the years of stress, something beyond the forgetfulness. I’m sure there was something once there, and I’m certain I can dig her out of the mire of her life, but maybe I’m remembering wrong. It wouldn’t surprise me.