We used to sit on the floor, he and I, and practice our alphabet and sounds. I had bought a few workbooks to get him through that year of wanting to start school so badly and having missed the cutoff date by 3 months. He was more than ready to be in school and he absolutely HATED that they wouldn't let him go and couldn't understand things like age cutoffs. If he was ready, they should just let him be there. He's always been a very rational sort of person.Even now, if you want to know something, but you don't ask the question in just the right way, he won't give you the answer you are looking for. He will get up for school on a scheduled day off, even though the rest of us have been talking about it for weeks, because no one reminded him about it the night before, and how come we didn't tell him that there was no school that day? If you want to know the quiet truth of my heart, I'm a little more than worried about how this boy is going to manage college.
Accepted into the Class of 2017
I thought I would have more time to get ready for it. I remember when he started high school and someone mentioned about how pretty soon he'd be filling out college applications and I laughed thinking it was in four years and that seemed so far away. Not only have these three years gone by quickly, but THIS year is going by far too fast. In that fall we visited Carnegie Melon, and then took another weekend and visited RIT and Clarkson University. He also applied to Lawrence Tech, and dropped MIT off his list after our visit to CMU. We filled out the FASFA form and the CSS Profile and he wrote his essays and I helped edit them, and then we waited. He got into Lawrence Tech, and then Clarkson, and RIT. I know he was relieved, because he honestly felt that he had a snowball's chance in hell at getting in anywhere. Last year was rough on my boy, and as a result some of his grades suffered from it. His references from school spoke to the situation, as did he in his interviews, and colleges are understanding about life and I tried to tell him that, but he was worried regardless. It took longer to hear back from CMU, which was his number one school. 5,000 +/- students applied for 126 seats in the freshmen Computer Science program. He knew his odds were slim, and figured that he wasn't going, so when the small envelope came in the mail that day, neither of us were surprised, though we both were a little sad.
I ordered him a sweatshirt after his CMU letter came
Clarkson University has been pursuing him since his Junior year. They gave him an academic award which translated in a rather nice scholarship for outstanding achievements and he almost didn't bother to look at their school. Once he did however, he was really impressed with what they had to offer, and more so after our visit there. They moved up to number two on his list, and so after his letter from CMU came, he confirmed his decision to go there and major in Computer Science in the class of 2017. Having somewhere to go has taken a huge weight off his mind, and added a big weight to mine. Sending in the confirmation deposit really drove the whole thing home. My boy is leaving in 5 months (less actually, as new student registration is August 23) to start a new chapter of his life, without me. I'm learning how pride and sadness can coexist with each other, and that each related event is going to tug at my heartstrings just a little bit. The purchases that are starting to fill the "Taking to College" tub, having to measure him for the Health Form that the college asked him to email back just this week, filling out the promissory notes for the financial aid loans from the government .. it's all one more reminder that our time is so short. I can only pray that we have done our jobs well, and that he is ready to go off and face this new chapter of his life, but I'm not quite ready yet.
We were driving back home from IKEA. The only sounds came from the radio, or the thoughts that occasionally ran through my head over the course of the miles. Suddenly the words of a song I never heard caught my attention. "Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough, we're not broken.. just bent.. and we can learn to love again". I felt my eyes well up and I turned my head to watch the scenery out the window as the chorus went on to finish with, "It's in the stars, it's been written on the scars, of our hearts, we're not broken.. just bent, and we can learn to love again." Broken is the word that I have been using to describe myself. It encompasses the pain that sometimes hurts so deep it feels like my heart might break. It covers the damaged emotions that go back years and years to a time when I was too young to be able to speak up for myself and explains why sometimes now I find myself louder than I need to be. When I think about me now, and all of the issues with my health I have to deal with vs. just 5 years ago, I feel broken. Over the past several years, if I had to use one word to describe my marriage, I would choose the word broken. Miriam-Webster gives six definitions of the word broken. Number 5 is: not complete or full. I would say that I haven't been too far off the mark in my way of thinking. I keep a board on PINTEREST full of quotes and sayings that spoke to me for whatever reason when I read them. Some are uplifting, some are a little more dark, and some I needed to read over and over when I felt like things were hitting rock bottom. One of my pins reads, "What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it is supposed to be." Over this past weekend, I sat with that saying open on my screen, in the early hours of the morning after spending several nights on the couch, and I did a lot of soul searching. I realized that it's not my job to ask for change from The Boy™, nor should I expect it. It's my job to love him, with all of his faults, just as he loves me with all of mine, and leave the rest up to God. He loves me, just as I am, with all of my faults (and Lord knows I have plenty) and expects nothing more from me than what I can give him on any given day. I realized that in doing so, I have inadvertently made the last several years so much harder than they needed to be. He is who he is, no more, and no less, and if I truly love him, which I do, than I have to take that. If he decides that he has things to work on in his life, or God inspires him somehow, than so be it, but it's not up to me to be asking for it. My job is to work on myself, and my own shortcomings, and boy is that a big enough list on it's own. I read somewhere once that difficult times can help us grow, and that it's when we are most broken that God does his most amazing work. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ""God creates out of nothing. Therefore until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him." So right now, I am working on me. I am trying to be the best wife that I can be, remembering when I feel frustrated that it's because of my expectations. I am trying to remember to show him appreciation for what he does, so that he doesn't feel that all I focus on is what I feel is missing. Is it going to work? I don't know, but what I do know is that anything is better than how things have been.
I walked along the sidewalk, feeling the warmth of the early spring sun on my face. Through my tears I noticed that the buds are starting to form on the trees. Songbirds have returned to the neighborhood and around lunchtime is one the times they make their rounds of the feeders. We are allowed 30 minutes every day for lunch, off the clock, to use however we see fit. I can head out the door, down my street, past my house, turn and walk past my neighbors house, turn again and walk the loop through my neighborhood and be back at school in 8 minutes flat. A few years ago several of my coworkers used to join me, but they decided that I walk too fast, and so I wander out alone at the start of my lunch break each day that the weather isn't too bitter cold or rainy.
This year, it is the only chance I get to be outside all day. Some days it is a chance to clear my head of all the noise that is swarming around in our classroom. A break from the questions and the whining and the bickering. Some days it is the fresh air that I crave. I walk along just observing all there is to see around me. Noticing anything that is going on in the neighborhood and enjoying the sun, or walking a little quicker to escape the cold or wind. Some days it is an opportunity to pound out the frustrations of my morning, whether it started off badly at home, or began once I walked in the doors. Those days I find that I walk briskly the whole time and feel refreshed and better when I get back to school.
Other days, like today, it is an escape from the prying eyes of my coworkers. A chance to cry out the hurt and anguish that I've been holding inside all morning. The opportunity to process whatever had transpired earlier, and deal with it without having to explain to anyone what's wrong. In light of all the awful things that have happened across the country this week, it seamed to be so petty and small, but life doesn't stop hurting because people do evil things or because law makers make foolish decisions. A chance to think about how hard it all is sometimes, and if I have the strength to keep doing this. Some days I'm just not sure.
Back in December I decided that one of the things I wanted to do this year, in order to strengthen our marriage, was to go on a monthly date. In January we went and saw The Hobbit, which was a fantastic movie. February rolled around and we never got around to having our date. I left it open, hoping he would initiate something, but it didn't work out. I was slightly disappointed, but I let it go. One bad month wasn't going to deter my plans. In March, I decided that our date would be bowling. We haven't been bowling in years and I thought it might be fun. March is a crazy month with the musical at the HS, and then we had Easter at the end, so it left the weekend before Easter for our date.
What we seem to be doing well this year, and even last, is having big, tear-filled, conversations that come at the end of a rather difficult stretch of days/weeks/months. As luck would have it, the days leading up to the weekend before Easter were less than ideal. The last thing I wanted to do was go on a date. In fact, I am pretty sure I went to bed early on Saturday, and then moved to the couch when he came to bed later on. On Sunday, sometime, we had one of those big conversations. I came to the realization that he is not going to change, no matter how much he says he is going to, or how much he wants to. He is who he is, and who he is is a "me centered, non-communicating" person. He doesn't call me when he is going to be late, even though I have been after him about it for almost 20 years (we started dating 20 years ago in June of 1993), because he doesn't think to. He only thinks of how it's going to affect him. He knows that I would like to spend time with him in the mornings, but he is not a morning person and he would rather sleep as late as he can, and get up with just enough time to get up, get ready, and leave. So he does. He doesn't talk to me more than superficial work related things, or stuff he reads about or hears on the news/radio. He doesn't share with me how he feels about things, what's bothering him, what hurts him, makes him happy, etc. Nothing. When I shared this during our conversation, and not for the first time, he said he doesn't feel like he has anything important to say. So I asked, "You would rather sit there, knowing that I would rather be having a conversation with you, and say nothing?" and he looked at me straight in the eye, and said, "Yes."
If you've never heard of it, there is a great book called, "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman (that link has a quiz you can take..check it out it's cool). It basically says that we all have a way that we feel loved, and if our significant other isn't "speaking our language", there will be all sorts of conflict due to the fact that we won't feel loved. You shouldn't be surprised that my Love Language is Quality Time/Conversation. After he answered my question, I sat there for a few minutes, with tears rolling down my face, and thought about all that we had talked about. I thought about all that I had been thinking about for the week or two prior, which was a lot of what we talked about during our conversation, as I had been realizing it for a while. I told him that I had come to the realization that as much as he wanted to, he wasn't going to change, and while I was OK with that, he was going to have to give me time to learn to live with it. He was going to have to be patient with me, as it wasn't going to be easy, and recognize that sometimes I wasn't going to be able to deal with it very well. It wasn't an easy realization to come to, but it was either that, or I had to let him go.
It has not been easy. I have to take each day one at a time. Every day I have to try to focus on what is good, and what is working well in our marriage and not focus on what is missing. Each day I have to try to remember to appreciate him for the things that he does, and try not to think about what could be going better. I have to not look back, because that is not where we are going. I say try, because it's not easy, and I don't always succeed. I apologize for my own failings, because I have many, and every day we start over. Sometimes, like this weekend, the lines of communication get broken, even from 1,000 miles away, and everything falls apart again. The hurt, it seems, is still very close to the surface, and sometimes that part of me that so desperately NEEDS someone to talk to feels a little like she is drowning. But I know, that if we keep trying, we will make it.
When I started this blog, I was working two jobs and needed somewhere to come and be silly and let out some steam so I didn't crack under the pressure. If you go back and read my early posts you will see a lot of silly polls and some very ranty posts mixed in what I consider to be some really good bits of writing. I hung out in a now defunct scrapbooking forum then, and the only people who read my ramblings came from there. Over the years, my blog has evolved into more of a personal journal. It chronicles trips we have taken, family stories, and over the past several years, pain and hardship. I'm not sure who reads anymore (hello to you all), but I have always written this blog for me. A place to come and say what I needed to say. Sometimes it's because I need to vent about someone, and sometimes because there was too much hurt to unload and I needed a safe place to put it.
I have never questioned what anyone might think about the words that I post here, until recently. I have read on other peoples blogs about how they get email and comments from spammers who leave nasty notes and they have had to shut off comments because they weren't in a place to be able to deal with them at the time. I have not blogged since March because of some comments that made me second guess what I have been posting. Because I have the power to see the comments and to delete them, they don't always show up on the posts, but I see them anyhow. Several times I have wanted to come and write, but have held back because I have wondered what some random people I don't even know might think. I'm done with that. This is my blog, and I don't really care what anyone thinks. If you don't like what have to say, leave. No one has a gun to your head forcing you to read what I write.