He Was Missing and I Didn’t Know

Today, I was cleaning my living room when the phone rang. It was my son’s seventh grade counselor. I have been speaking with her about the things that are going on with him, so I assumed that is why she was calling. I answered the phone to have her ask me why my son was not in school today. They had called him to the counseling center and that is how they discovered he wasn’t there.

First Emotion: Shock, Second Emotion: Disbelief, Third Emotion: Fear. I stopped her in mid-sentence and exclaimed that he had left for school at 6:30 this morning and what did she mean he wasn’t there. All sorts of thoughts started running through my mind. There was an accident, he had been kidnapped, he had been jumped. All of these the rational part of me said were bull, the irrational part of me however had complete control in that moment. She told me that she would send someone to his class to see if there had just been a mixup and then call me back.

While I waited for that phone call, I texted everyone that I could think of to try and track down my son. He wasn’t answering my call or my texts. I texted his friends even though I knew that they were actually in school. Finally, I called my niece. Within minutes he texted me. “I’m fine”, “No, I am not telling you where I am”, “I went to a friend’s house”, “No, I’m not telling you who it is”. Who is this entity that has taken over my child? I’m trying to understand, but he won’t talk to me. I remember being 12 and feeling the same way, but, I at least talked. Then again, I didn’t talk to my parents, I talked to my friends. How do I, as his Mother, get his friends to open up to me about what is going on in his life without them feeling like they are ratting him out?

Eventually, I was able to get him to tell me where he was and I went and picked him up. Now, for most parents, their first reaction would be to scream and freak out. I didn’t do that. I spoke quietly, I didn’t raise my voice, I focused the conversation on him. It didn’t matter what I was feeling, I needed to find out how he was feeling. When we got home, we sat down and talked. Our conversation isn’t over, but we have taken a small break to regroup.

I am in unchartered waters and even with all the advice from friends and books and online forums, this is my child. Each child is different, there experiences, while the same, are different from their perspective. I don’t know where this journey is going to take us or how it is going to turn out.


And the Hits Keep Coming

I woke up this morning excited to go to work as I do every day. I work for a Talent Agent. It is an exciting field to be in. You get to learn all about the casting process and the differences between auditioning for commercial, film, and television. My job is the development of the child talent. Helping with resumes, head shots, and of course, training. If you want to be an actor, you have to have training. Yes, some actors have lucked out and been plucked from obscurity to become famous over night. BUT, they all have training. If you train for theater, that’s great. But film and television are different from theater and the same techniques do not apply. I love my job, I love my office, I love the people I work with….and today, I was let go.

It had nothing to do with me, it’s business. My sales for the acting classes weren’t where they needed to be. I got it. It hurt, it hurt like hell, but I got it. I packed up my office and went to say goodbye to the owner. How fortuitous that decision would be. In a matter of an hour, I went from being unemployed, to being rehired by the same agency but in a different position. One that allows me to put my training and skills to good use.

It’s funny, when it first happened, I didn’t question it. I didn’t say poor me or why me. I didn’t curse God and ask him why I was being punished. I just cried, I cried because I was a part of a family. I cried because I love these people so much and the thought of not seeing them every day positively broke my heart. Then, in an instant, the tears of sadness turned into tears of joy. Never question the universe and what it has in store for you. Everything does indeed happen for a reason.

Three Steps Back Again

My niece is living with us for the third time. She has had a pretty rough life, I won’t lie. But then again, even after going through the loss of her mother at 6 years old, her life was not bad. Her Dad’s parents took her and her brothers in since no one in her Mother’s family wanted them. It was not easy for her Grandparent’s. Their children were grown and out of the house, well, at least one of them was out of the house. Unfortunately, this is where the problem started. She was the only girl and everyone worried about her. They gave in to her every whim and they never made her responsible for her actions. Now at 14 years old, she has had sex, done drugs, and drank. She has skipped school and run away. She has no respect for authority or anyone for that matter.

As I mentioned before, this is the third time that she has lived with us. The first two times were because she ran away and we thought we could help. This time is because she got kicked out. Did Grandma and Grandpa want too? No. Do I support her decision, yes. Why do I support the decision? Because Grandma and Grandpa are in their 60’s with no help aside from myself and Grandpa’s sister. The constant arguing, telling her Grandparents to F-off. Threatening, threatening, threatening all the time. So Grandma and Grandpa had enough and kicked her out. She hopped from couch to couch for about two weeks and then one night I received a phone call asking if she could spend the night because she had nowhere to go. What was I going to say, no? So she came over, and here she has stayed.

Every time she has lived with us, the friction becomes unbearable in the house. My kids fight with her, my husband fights with her, I fight with her, my husband and I fight with each other, my kids fight with my husband and vice versa. The entire time, she stands there, pretending like she didn’t instigate it. She will say or do something right in front of you and not even a split second later is screaming in your face that she didn’t do it. She is full of empty promises, empty promises, empty promises. I will go to school. She goes and hour and a half late. I will come right home from school. She shows up past curfew. I won’t smoke. She comes home smelling like ganja and cigarette smoke. I won’t have sex. Well, you know how that goes.

I love this child like she came from my own body. When she was born I was the first one to hold her (after her parents of course). I watched her grow and change as she blossomed from a baby, to a toddler, to a little girl. I remember when my her Mother died, it was quick, sudden, and unexpected. She wasn’t even 30 and like the breath that blows out a flame, she was gone. At the funeral, as my daughter and I were walking out to the car, her Father tried to get her to go with him. She wouldn’t. She tugged her hand out of his and came running up to me and then proceeded to yell across the parking lot that she was riding with us. That’s how she has always been, a mind of her own and damn anyone that tries to change it.

So here I sit, an hour past curfew, waiting to see if she comes in the door. I’m not her guardian so I have no legal leg to stand on. I can’t call the police if she doesn’t come home. I have to call Grandma, who then calls the police to report her. Even then we have to wait the obligatory 24 hours. She is bright, oh my lord, she…is…bright. So why do the bright ones make the dumbest decisions.

She is my child. Why? Because I love her. I will always love her. And by the grace of God we will get through this….with a few less hairs and a few more wrinkles.

Scared Sideways

Almost 13 years ago, I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. He was everything I had hoped my son would be and more. He was funny, resilient, and fearless. He was also kind, generous, loving, compassionate, and empathetic. He could just look at you and know if you needed to be left alone or if you needed a cuddle. I was one of those Mothers who was blessed with a special bond with my son. We knew what each other was thinking, how they were feeling. We knew what to say, what to do, how to navigate the uncomfortable silences. But not anymore.

Today is day 3 of my son refusing to come home. Now, there is a lot to this back story that I won’t get into. The kid in me understands how he is feeling. The Mother in me wants to fix it all and make everything alright. As a Mother, it is my job to protect my children and keep them safe. It has been made blatantly obvious to me over the last few days that I have failed as a parent. I spoiled, coddled, cuddled, and protected him to much. He is screaming out to have a voice of his own, to stand on his own two feet and make his own decisions, consequences be damned! This morning I awoke to realize the relationship with my son will never again be the same.

This makes me sad. It makes me want to cry and scream and curse the world. How do I maneuver through this minefield with  new lines that have been drawn in the sand. I can no longer treat him like my little boy, but yet he is just barely being categorized as a teenager. How do I guide him to become the man he is meant to be, and not the man that society sees him becoming. The line he is walking is a thin one. One misstep, and it is a downward spiral into the seedy side of humanity.

It’s Saturday, my son should have walked into my room to see if he could go hang out with his friends. Then, later in the afternoon, he would call and ask if he could have a sleepover. None of that happened. The last two nights in my house have been eerily quiet. I have slept, dreamless yet fitful. I have awoken feeling like I went twelve rounds with Rhonda Rousey (which we all know I wouldn’t last two seconds with her) and going through my day like a zombie. The things that usually bring me joy when I am in a dark place don’t appeal to me. I don’t want to curl up under the covers and watch a movie. I don’t want to read a good book. I don’t want to take a long bath and unwind. I don’t…I don’t…I don’t.

How will this new chapter end, I am not sure. I am scared, the thought of tomorrow makes me terrified. Lyrics from a song that both Trisha Yearwood and Leann Rimes covered describe my feelings perfectly.

“How do I live without you, I want to know. How do I breathe without you, if you ever go.

How do I ever, ever survive? How do I, Oh how do I live.”