Lost Dreams and Broken Mamas

The area around me has been in quite an uproar lately over some local teens getting caught and arrested for committing a series of crimes. As news of the crimes came to light, people surmised just who and what had happened. Some people thought the crime was committed by the homeless. Some folks surmised politicos had a hand in things, and some just shrugged, unsure what to believe. When the news broke that it was teens who had committed the crimes, I think most people were in a bit of shock. It just seemed so ODD that kids had done what these teens were being accused of.

Because some of the kids were 17, and therefor underage, their names were initially withheld from the public. People nearly lost their damned minds about it, demanding names, knowledge, and the harshest sentences possible. I admittedly was disgusted by what they had done, and I too said they needed harsh jail times…to be removed from society. I am a firm believer that some folks just don’t want to help society, they want to hurt it, and they should therefore be removed from it.

Yesterday Facebook was aglow with article after article, comment after comment about what had transpired. The news traveled far and wide. Names had been released. I clicked on an article and read what had transpired. The teens admitted they had gone out in the middle of the night, committed a crime, grabbed some food and gas, and headed home. They told a few people what they had done, and swore those people to secrecy. Silly teens don’t know that people love to talk, and one of their moms came across a snapchat message about the crime, and went to police. I get the impression from the article that she may not have initially known her son was involved. Days later, he was arrested, charged with class A felonies, and she watched helplessly as it became clear her son had just destroyed his own life. The news quoted her outside the courthouse, saying she was “devastated” and apologizing profusely for what her son had done.

I read that article a few times. I was so angry at what these teens had done, but her words bounced around in my head over and over. I put aside my anger for a bit and just let myself mull over this woman’s predicament.

After all, those of us who are parents…we’re winging it. We get no manual. They don’t teach us and give us a test before we have kids. We have a kid and we sort of make it up as we go along. There’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back when we get it right, and we cringe when we realize we got something wrong. Parenting is no joke. At the end of the day, most of us do our very best. We try to raise kind, considerate, loving, happy children who will go on to be successful, happy adults. Sometimes it happens the way we plan, and we rejoice. And sometimes, we end up like this mom.

I’d like to think my kids are smart. My son in particular tests out in the top 98th percentile for his grade level for the country. And you know what? He does dumb shit like every other kid his age. Maybe I’m more surprised by it because I know how intellectually smart he is, he gets great grades, and has a superb vocabulary. He also does things that make me look at him and wonder wtf he is doing. It’s part of being a kid. Both kids have moments where I wonder what they are thinking, because they do stupid stuff sometimes. Then I laugh because I’m an adult and sometimes I do really dumb shit too (hello, did you read the post where I tried to jump a car and forgot the simple process of turning a key?). Sometimes, we all make a poor choice or two.

No doubt this mama did her best. There was mention her son was an honors student, had great grades, and had a career path planned out. Yet all those smarts, and he did one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. In the process, he threw his entire life away. Forget no prom, no graduation. This kid won’t have a life outside of a jail cell for a long time. He could get life in prison. And with that throwing away of his life, he also threw away every one of his mama’s hopes and dreams.

Every time my kids leave the house on their own or with friends or family, I am aware that a piece of my heart has left the house. Each one carries a part of my heart, and I can’t imagine losing them to prison or death. The thought alone gives me anxiety. The mama side of me wishes I knew the mama of that boy, because I’d be there giving her a hug. While folks call for the harshest sentences for her son, blame her for his actions, and worse, I am left just heartbroken. I am heartbroken for that mama. I am heartbroken for all her hopes and dreams for her baby boy that have been lost. After all, no matter how old they get, they are always our babies in our hearts. I am heartbroken for a life not really yet lived, for a person who hasn’t truly even figured out who they are yet to have made such a life devastating decision.

There is no good in any of it.

I pulled my kids aside and told them all the things. I told them they carry a piece of my heart with them wherever they go, and I need them to protect it by making good choices. I explained good friends sometimes make bad choices, and they need to stand strong and make good choices. I told them how one bad decisions can lead to a string of them, and that they need to break that chain. I explain that while I wish all my lessons I impart, and all the mama love I can give them will keep them safe and raise them properly, that they need to make good choices. A bad choice, especially one like the one this child make, can destroy not only that person’s life, but everyone else’s who loves that child.

I worry about that boy. I worry about his mama too. I’m not sure if his dad is around or not, because they only mentioned the mama. I can’t stop thinking about her pain, and it’s hitting me hard.

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Getting Old While Staying Young

I saw a meme on facebook the other day that said “One of the weirder things about being an adult is having a favorite stovetop burner, yet nobody talks about it.” I laughed way too hard at this, because I too have one (back left, because with kids back is safer and left has the bigger burner). I notice other little changes about getting older, many which are stereotypical. I go to bed earlier, I wake up easier in the morning. A night curled up in bed sometimes beats the idea of a night at the bar. I also realized this weekend that driving long distances has become a lot more difficult. When I was younger, we moved to Virginia, and I often drove up and down the I95 corridor on the weekends in the blink of an eye. Drove down Friday afternoon, back Sunday. I did this often consecutive weeks, for consecutive months. This past weekend, the kids and I drove down to visit my dad. Good Lord O’mighty, 7 hours in the car felt like time eternal! We arrived at 10PM and I couldn’t WAIT to go crawl into a nice comfy bed and relax!

The moment my little old ladyhood jump started into full effect was Sunday night. First, some backstory. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on here but when I was a kid, my mom had her wedding china. It was a beautiful set with roses on it, very British. I loved it. I loved the print, even as a kid, but I also loved the fact it symbolized the three of us were having a special meal (usually Christmas or Thanksgiving. I unfortunately grew up 3000 miles away from all of my extended family. My dad traveled a LOT for work. My poor mom never really got enough credit from me for all she did, because she handled EVERYTHING. On holidays though, the special dishes came out, and I remember looking down at them and just feeling….happy. Well, my mom said I could have them after she died, only there was some confusion, and they accidentally got sold in the estate sale. I mourned those dishes, and was CRUSHED. Fast forward 12 years, and my husband got me a set of 4 settings for Christmas. I was thrilled to pieces, and he said he would over time help me get some more so I had at least settings for 8. Well, last week, I had just downloaded the Nextdoor app, and saw something pop up about THOSE VERY DISHES. Unused, settings for 4, for a steal. I messaged immediately, but someone had beat me to it. The seller told me someone was picking them up, but would let me know if they were a no show. I checked that damned phone every 15 minutes for the rest of the day, hoping by some miracle the original poster might not show. I never heard back, and consoled myself by saying perhaps those dishes just weren’t meant to be mine (I was full of shit. I wanted those dishes like I want to snarf down a box of girl scout frozen thin mints after a hard day). Still, I tried to keep positive, and said I’d get a set one day. Then I laughed at the fact I am still relatively young, but such a mental old lady that china dishes were such a big topic with me.

Well, a week went by, and suddenly during dinner Sunday, I see a message. It’s from the seller, saying she had waited a whole week, but the buyer never showed. Would I still want the dishes?

Would I like perky books and a rounder butt? YES GIRL, AND I WANT THOSE DISHES TOO!

I told the seller I absolutely did, and I would be home Tuesday, could I come then? So today, I am picking up my coveted dishes, in all my little old lady glory!!!

My dad was chuckling at my old lady dish desires. I explained the significance, and he understood then. The simple fact is that I am highly sentimental about things, where as he has almost no attachment to stuff or items at all. This explains my house, cluttered and chaotic, and his immaculate environment. I tried to explain why I am sentimental about such things, and told him about another Christmas gift this year from my husband. When I was a kid, I had rain shiny wellies (rainboots for the Americans in the audience). I LOVED those boots. They were probably my first pair of shoes I truly adored. I loved how red they were, how shiny, and how I could run in mud and simply rinse them off to their shiny glory. They were perfect and versatile. After I grew out of them, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to ask for another pair. It’s silly really, because I never asked for some but holy shit, I wanted some. This past Christmas, my husband got me a pair of red shiny wellies. I am joyous. My dad was so perplexed why A. I loved them so, B. why I never just simply asked for another pair once I outgrew mine if I loved them so much, and C why I have such a sentimental attachment to stuff. I explained he should be happy, really….because I had such a great childhood that things that remind me of that childhood make me extremely happy. Those dishes? I was beaming on Christmas eating off them. The boots? Joy when I slide them on. I may be a little old lady mentally, but those things bring me back in time to a carefree moment of running in fields, or eating my favorite foods with my two favorite people. They are tradition.

This morning, after a 6 hour drive last night, I feel old as hell. That drive I did so carefree and without much thought at 18 is a lot harder now. My back aches, my brain is tired from concentrating on the road for so long. I am content to be home though. This is a busy week, filled with the little getting braces, training a new coworker, a comedy show and date night, a trip to NY, my birthday (little old lady getting OLDER, y’all. I’ll be in a housecoat and yelling for people to get off my lawn in NO time!) and all the other business that family is. It’s a week of excitement.

My son and I were talking in the car on our long drive home. We have some of our best chats in the car. He is excited for our birthdays, he says. He means he is excited for HIS birthday, because he is turning 13 in a couple of weeks. I can’t even. How have 13 years gone by so fast? He asked me if I am sad I am getting older. I said I am not sad I am getting older. While getting older is a little scary, as you start to see more time behind you and less in front of you, and time seems to go by much faster now, I am grateful for a birthday. Some of my friends and loved ones no longer have that luxury. They don’t get another birthday, another year, like I do. So I am grateful for that birthday. I am grateful for my little life, filled with good people. I am grateful to be a little old lady at heart, with her favorite stove burner, a joy of a quiet night in, pretty dishes, and rain boots that shine bright and red. I enjoy it all (minus the back aches and pains) but I find joy in reminding myself of all the happy moments of being a kid.