So I’ve been getting my son off to college this week — his first year. I’m sure those of you with college-age kids can relate to the endless trips to Target and the time warp sensation as you pass the toy aisle. Hey! When did you outgrow Thomas the Tank Engine? Aren’t you going to beg me for some legos and threaten a meltdown? When I did I get so old that baby wipes aren’t in my shopping cart? Or fruit roll-ups for that matter.
And then it dawns on you — you will never buy these things again until you have GRANDCHILDREN. Jesus Christ! You’re old enough to be a GRANDPARENT. Upon reflection you realize your own grandparents were YOUNGER than you are now when you were born.
Where did that towheaded toddler go? Oh right, he’s off to college to become an economics major.
Time flies when you’re being sued for custody. Oh those golden years of his youth. I deserve some sort of victory lap for surviving all that and raising this gargantuan man-thing.
And it would’ve been all bittersweet and magical, this taking my son to college experience — except that I bred with a fuckwit. Less than 24 hours before my son’s freshman orientation, his father texted to say he was going to drive up for the parent convocation. And my son shared this with me (the text came in that very moment) as I was dealing with an insurance company because a tree limb fell and crushed my son’s car. (Thousand dollar deductible, thank you very much.)
And I kind of… just maybe… lost my shit.
If you want to encapsulate my entire parenting life, it was that moment. I’m on the ground doing crisis management, multi-tasking a hundred expensive, time-sucking tasks and the fuckwit is swanning in — last minute, uninvited — for some parenting glory.
Consider — this man owes me thousands in unpaid child support. He dropped the kid’s health insurance years ago without a word (meanwhile selling a home for a half million and working under the table.) He has not paid a dime towards son’s college expenses. He did not send son a Christmas gift, or recognize his birthday, or high school graduation. However, he IS available to drive four hours north to come to a parent convocation.
Yeah. I kind of lost my “meh” in that moment. What I probably should’ve done was recognized that his father being there or not is now my son’s problem. I don’t control what fuckwits do, and neither does my son. If he wants to hang out awkwardly with a fuckwit, that’s his business. I can eat the shit sandwich of co-existence.
What I did instead is tell my son that SUCKS. And fucking hey, I EARNED the right to be here, NOT HIM. And the bastard OWES ME MONEY and he’s got a LOT OF NERVE to show up today of all days.
My son didn’t look thrilled at the news either, still it was his news to deal with, not mine. He texted his dad not to come, it wasn’t “a good time.” (Interesting word choice. That’s how his father blew him off years ago with scheduled visits and paid-for airline tickets, his father canceling with less than a day’s notice.)
The fuckwit wrote back that he was going to be there anyway, but it was fine if son didn’t want to see him.
Son said “He’s trying to make me feel guilty.”
Then I felt guilty. Then I felt bad that my un-mehness might tarnish his otherwise happy day.
What happened is, after I lost my shit, I tried to let it go. We enjoyed our evening. Had a steak dinner. Did another round of shopping. Got up butt-early to move him in, made his bed, matched all his socks, enjoyed how excited son was, had a nice lunch together — and then with his permission, I skipped the parent convocation.
Did I skip it because of the potential fuckwit sighting? Or did I skip it because I would’ve had to kill four hours before it began, and it looked like two hours of speeches in an outdoor tent?
Not sure, but I skipped it. My son wanted to find the cross country coach and meet his new roomie. I was kind of cramping his style.
Still felt bad. He deserved to have parents with no drama at his convocation. I didn’t deliver.
But then again, I didn’t feel THAT bad. I raised a really great kid, who got into college with a half-ride academic scholarship. It took a ton of parenting work to get him there — my son knows it and I know it. I enjoy all the intimacy that goes along with that hard work. His father does not. The fuckwit can swelter in a tent and pretend to be parent of the year all he wants to, I won.
It’s still a work in progress though, to internalize that I won. Lest you think my Chump Lady alter ego has it All Worked Out — I still struggle with meh. So today, as a Friday challenge, I thought we could all share our most un-meh moments. And how we got past them.
Here’s to new beginnings (and empty nesting!) TGIF!