independent, with nagging doubts

Happy Independence Day! It’s an incredibly beautiful day here, and I’ve spent the first part of my day enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze, chatting with neighbors, puttering about doing some household projects, and reflecting on all I have to be grateful for this long, holiday weekend to myself.

This weekend, my daughter has gone with a friend to their family cabin. This is her first long weekend away with anyone other than family…and it kind of scares me.

While the girls have been discussing this potential for some time, I had cautioned my daughter that I hadn’t yet connected with her friend’s parents. First, I would have anticipated a call from them inviting my daughter to go along with them. And then I would have anticipated detailed information:

  • Where is the cabin?
  • At what number can my daughter / they be reached?
  • Who will be there?
Because I hadn’t heard from my daughter’s friend’s parents, I assumed they had made a decision that their daughter would not be bringing friends along for this “family” weekend. (Let me add here that I have at least met the parents, though I don’t know them well compared to other families of my children’s friends.) When my daughter brought it up during the week, I told her she needed to call her friend and begin the conversation. She never did.
Still, I suppose I should not have been surprised when my daughter tearfully called late Friday afternoon saying that she and her friend were still conspiring for this weekend trip. I expressed my concerns with my daughter and with my ex, who was “responsible” for the children for the weekend. While I allowed for him, my daughter and the friend’s parents to make this decision, I gave him a list of information to acquire in the process. He, of course, protested that I should have called the parents and gotten this information during the week. However, to my earlier point, I assumed the friend’s parents had no intention of including my daughter — and how weird is it to call someone and say, “So, are you planning on taking my child to your cabin this weekend? Because I have some questions…” It’s like calling someone and saying, “So I heard you’re having a party; am I invited?”
I have since heard nothing. So, while I would feel more responsible if I called my ex and asked him if he got all that information I’d asked for, just thinking about it makes me feel like a nag. And I’ve never considered myself a nag, never wanted to be a nag and have only occasionally found myself driven to nag under circumstances such as this, where there was no communication nor action. And I shouldn’t have to. My wasband should be as concerned for our daughter’s welfare as I am, and he should have the decency to fill me in on the details.
So, while I enjoy the weekend, I also occasionally stew, wondering if I should have been a firmer parent and just said “no” and being irritated with my ex for his lack of follow-up. Meanwhile, I trust in my daughter’s solid sense of self and her excellent memorization of my phone number.
At some point, we have to let go and trust that we’ve taught them well, right? I’m just not entirely certain I was ready for this yet.

mourning among my adopted family

It’s been a rough couple of days, and I find I have a story to tell. Seems I usually do. Actually, this might be more like two stories.

When I was in college, I dated a professor’s son (actually, I dated more than one, but let’s leave the others for another time). His mother taught writing courses and was known to be tough and opinionated. So, of course I sought her out. Academically, she liked me.

My boyfriend / professor’s son lived at home, so there was that inevitable morning when I walked down through the living room and had to say, “Good morning, Doctor, I’ll see you later in class.” Since it was a small school, everyone in my social circle had heard the news by lunch time. This counts among the three most embarrassing moments of my life.

But the real story here is that, when the boyfriend went off to grad school, his mother, my professor, adopted me. I wasn’t her only adopted student but, because I was close to her son, I think she liked having me around as a way to feel closer to him. She fed me elaborate meals and played the piano and we talked about everything from art and politics to gender roles and sex. I met his two brothers, his nephews and niece, his grandparents… After college, I moved closer to his grandparents and would take his grandmother shopping, since she no longer drove.

The boyfriend and I had an off-again, on-again long-distance relationship filled with the usual yearning, expectations, longing and heartache. People around us sincerely believed we would one day marry. For a long time, I think we did, too. In the end, I lost the boyfriend but kept the family. My former boyfriend married. To this day, I call the boys my brothers.

We lost the doctor recently and, over the weekend, I celebrated her life with my “brothers” and “nephew.” A common theme at family occasions is the closeness I share with the eldest of these boys. Apparently this chafes the youngest, my ex, as noted by the middle son who remarked, “Yeah, I’ve heard all about it” not long after I walked into the house over the weekend.

I suppose there may be rules and boundaries that one ought to consider in relationship situations like this. But I’m not going to analyze them here and now. I simply want to share the reason you haven’t seen a post from me in a few days — I’ve needed some time to process a great loss for me personally, but even more so for these wonderful brothers from another mother. And I’ve needed to absorb and recognize that, however young and dumb and unable to articulate our feelings or negotiate our relationship at the time, I broke someone’s heart — without ever really realizing it.

I suspect there may be more to come on all this…after I’ve had a little time to put it into perspective.