Every morning when I get up, it’s still dark outside. I take my son to work and we chat (as much as two zombies can) on the way.
People ask me why he doesn’t drive himself. When I tell them he doesn’t have his license yet, the eyes of judgement fall down from the pulpit like a hammer.
Isn’t he old enough to have a license? Why isn’t he driving, yet?
The fact is, when our generation was growing up, we didn’t have all the laws and fines we do now. The insurance rates, stickers, tags, etc, are pretty expensive. My son lives with me to help me with bills because for us, it makes sense.
Combining our income to live in this volatile, financial world isn’t some new thing. A lot of other cultures and countries do it. It is unfortunate, in our American culture, it has put the pressure on children to take flight as soon as they turn 18. My son is single, he has no children, and on what he earns, it’s still not enough to make it without a struggle. So, we struggle together.
For those of you that want to preach about enabling, I want to stop you right there. What I’m enabling my son to do, is be with his family. I’m teaching him that as a man, he doesn’t have to go out and have kids and get married before he’s ready. He can save up his money and he can leave the “nest” when he’s prepared to do so. Until then, he can stay here and take care of me, and things around the house, like a good son.
His decision to not drive isn’t because he doesn’t want to. He’s been learning. COVID hit, and that made things complicated. The blunt truth is, it’s a financial burden right now. As a 21 year old male, his insurance is nothing to scoff at. Car maintenance can be hefty for a used vehicle (which he does own, and just paid over $1500 in repairs/maintenance.) When he has money, his first priority is to give some to me, and then tuck a little into his savings. I don’t know many people that have more than $1000 in savings these days, do you?
Tell me where the mistake is.
He has his own bills, and he has his own goals. I won’t be around forever, and when he chooses to move out, life has a way of sucking up all our time. There won’t be these morning, zombie-groans back and forth on the drive to work. For 25 minutes, Monday through Friday, we have each other’s undivided attention. As a mother, who wouldn’t trade the world for that?
I have three other sons. The oldest is in the Army, has two children, and a wife. I get to talk to him-if I’m lucky-once a week. The next in line has a son, works, and is still trying to hustle to make ends meet. My third son has treatment-resistant schizophrenia and also lives with me. Every day is a battle for him. Since he was young, we fought to get a proper diagnosis, and proper medications. It took years to understand what it all was, and how to best function as a family. Daily suicide watches were my life for years. Weekly calls to the school because he was lashing out. Bullied for years on the school bus, fighting the school to take action, fighting the labels slapped on me and him because we spoke out, and pushed back. Weeks, in and out of hospitals, because the burden-the simple act of breathing-was too heavy for him.
Yeah. You know what? I’m OK with my youngest kid taking a breather from life’s expectations of him. He doesn’t do drugs, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t sleep around. He works his ass off in the concrete industry, in the stifling, Texas heat. I’m good with him spending time with me every morning, and the sacrifice of waking up at 5AM is worth it to me.
As I sit here writing this, enjoying my cup of coffee at the kitchen table, I look out at the sun peeking over the top of my fence. It’s rained for so many days, I’ve lost count. My grass is overgrown. My lawn furniture is looking like a house of frat boys after a party, strewn across the lawn. But inside the house, where chaos dwells, there is a few moments of peace. I’m smiling because I’m content with the moments. The now, and the present. Who knows what I’ll feel in 30 min’s? I don’t even care. I can take a deep breath, and cherish this moment for what it is.
My children are alive and healthy. I’m close with all four of them.
I’m #lucky. I’m #grateful.
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