All three of my boys are different. So different that just knowing their personalities you might not even know that they are related, and my two oldest have the same father.
Bones, who just turned 18, is 21 months older than my middle son who is 16. And then there is Jonesie who is 9. So there is a span of 9 years between the oldest and youngest.
My oldest is the more quiet, reserved, laid back, rather do nothing than have to move a muscle, pouty, quick to anger, lump on a log, serious type. He has also been a giver upper. Think about it… It’s easy to give up. It doesn’t take any effort, no pain, no discomfort. Nada. All you do is sit back and give up. Right up his alley.
For many reasons he has been my most challenging child because I don’t/won’t let him give up. I push him past his limits and this causes friction.
Teaching him to ride a bike was like… one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done as a parent, really. When he fell off he did not want to get back up. But I made him. And he got back on. And fell off. I taught both boys to ride in the basketball court area of the apartments we lived in at the time and I’m sure the neighbors were like “PLEASE LADY just let the kid be”. But I didn’t, I pushed him to get back on and work harder. After hours in the basketball court, and many temper tantrums, he did learn to ride his bike that day and the smile on his face is etched forever in my head.
I’m sure he’s had a rough time in my house because J and Jonesie and I are not sit-backers. We’d rather be doing something than nothing, and we are always doing something. Bones didn’t want to do anything, but when it was time to do something I forced him along.
He was the starting pitcher on the high school baseball team and had the varsity pitching coach e-mailing me to work with him. He was hitting home-runs. Over the fence home runs. He was a natural ball player, he had a talent that most young boys dream of achieving ‘some day’. But he quit the team. It was too much work, took too much time, had to get up early, had late night workouts. We battled for weeks when he told me he wanted to quit. I made sure that he was making a decision that he wouldn’t later regret, he finished out the season and was done.
He has missed out on so much in his life because he is this way. Admittedly, there were times where it was just easier to let him stay home than force him into going and then battling. I have spent many, many hours of his life frustrated and just wondering if he was ever going to do ANYTHING. And his attitude had negative effects on all of us. It can be exhausting.
Last year we took a 10-day road trip. At one rest station the boys went in to use the bathroom and when they came out J told me that a guy walking behind Bones told him that he “needed to walk with more purpose.” So….. lemme tell you, when a total stranger says that… you know it’s bad.
Part of our trip was through the Grand Canyon. We stopped at every pull-in area, we toured a Ruins site, we took photo after photo with the Grand Canyon in the background. We (me, J, Jonesie and my bf) were in awe. Bones sat in the car. Grumpy. When we got to the Grand Canyon sign I wanted a family photo – something to HAVE, something to cherish from our trip but he refused to get out of the car. We spent more than 30 minutes trying to get him out, and he wouldn’t budge.
So I have this…….
We talk about this today and he laughs and realizes how ridiculous he was and how our family vacation photo book is largely comprised of photos that don’t include him. It has to sadden him because he knows that he made the choice. I know it saddens me.
Those of you that have been readers for a while know the hell I’ve been through with the older two and their dad. And you remember that at 14 he threatened suicide and I called 911 and they took him away for evaluation. You know that the kid didn’t talk or make eye contact for almost 2 years because he was struggling. He put holes in my walls, and ripped his bedroom apart on a regular basis. I would sit in my room, directly beneath his, and wait for the storm to end.
There was a time where I didn’t think he was even going to make it through high school. Honest to God. He wouldn’t do homework. He wouldn’t do anything. He was angry. He was depressed. He was lazy.
And we battled because I NEVER STOPPED chirping in his ear, I’m sure he would call it nagging and bitching, but I never stopped pushing him to get up. The energy I have spent pushing this kid could fuel the earth for a year.
The kid that I didn’t think would graduate, that failed english and nearly didn’t pass 10th grade just graduated from high school with a B+ in AP Physics! He also got his first job! And he is enrolled in college!
This whole first job thing has been a battle for years too, but he got a job working as a cook. I worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle it because he came home after his first day and was wiped. He was waaaaay out of his comfort zone. He told me that he had to do two things: BE LOUD and MOVE FAST. Um, he has never been those two things in his entire LIFE!!
And as soon as school got out they started working him 12-13 hour days sometimes 5 days a week. It stressed me to no end because I was just waiting for him to give up. There were days where I wouldn’t see him at all, but I also believed that this was the best thing that could ever happen to him. I just hoped that he either had the strength no to throw in the towel, or to stand up and say “hey, I can’t keep working like this.”
But this kid, at this very moment, is at his college orientation. And after he is done with that he is going to work.
Many, well, probably most, moms are sad at graduation and they cry. They cry sad tears because their kid is growing up. But I didn’t cry. Not a tear. Because I think that my kid has done the impossible and I could not be more proud of him for it. I am elated at his accomplishments. At his strength to fight through the tough times.
At his growth.
I also see his growth and strength and accomplishments as a big compliment to myself. I AM PROUD. There are times where I see the label “single mom” as a negative thing. People judge me. But guess what? I am a 36 year old single mom of three boys who is seeing her firstborn start college. I’ve never worn the single mom badge so proudly.
When the going gets tough… the single mom gets tougher.
THIS is what I have fought so hard for over the last 18 years. I have a support system, but at the end of the day it is me and the boys. I pay the bills. I tuck(ed) them in at night. All of the blood, sweat and tears are for this moment. Now, if I can keep it going for the next 18 I’d like to have many more of these… with all three of my boys included.