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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One day you wake up and realize you've been living life all along...

My home has changed dramatically in the past six months, and I'm not talking about the laundry mountain which seems to spawn itself since I began working a zillion hours weekly.

DJ and I had a heart-to-heart a few months ago. I told him he doesn't need to worry about me. Even when I'm in trouble, I'm still okay. I reminded him that I've been taking care of myself since I was a small child and that I'm fairly resilient, even when life seems to be sending challenges to me with every breath. He said he knew that, but that he wants to take care of me. I told him he can't. He walked away from our discussion, shoulders sagging, and I knew he was crying a little bit. I called him later, told him how much I loved and appreciated him--and hoped he understood that I need him to be independent, to take some time for himself. He said he knew that.

About a month later, DJ told me he had found a place where he wanted to live. He talked to me in an unfortunate moment when I was trying to manage stress from overwork and PTSD. I let Darrin give all the answers and continued to work. DJ moved out the week I was in Seattle. Adam and Tabitha both called me. Adam asked if it was okay if he cried. I said absolutely. Tabitha said nothing would be the same again. I said that was true, but it would be okay. I'm not sure she believed me.

Adam mourned more than I thought he would. I could hear him pacing the floor at night between his room and DJ's. I let him pace. A few days later he moved into DJ's room.

When we moved into our current home, Adam and Tabitha were 5 and 4 years old. Both were tiny kids and Tabitha refused to sleep alone in a bedroom. We put them in a room together, a toddler bed on each wall, and they stayed there for a couple of years. DJ took a small bedroom adjacent to Adam and Tabitha, Darrin and I slept on the lower level of the house, and we had a spare room that was extremely large and carpeted in the ugliest shade of orange I have ever seen. I used it as my office/work-out room.

When Tabitha turned 7 we decided it was time for her to stop whining about being alone. We moved Adam into my office--letting him know he would have to keep it clean because he was sharing it with me, and turned Tabitha's room into a girl haven. At this point, DJ had the smallest bedroom. I had offered to let him move; he declined, stating that he had plenty of space.

Eventually I moved completely out of Adam's room, leaving him with the most spacious bedroom in the house. Therefore, when he moved into DJ's empty room, I was surprised. In the process of moving, Adam threw away loads of stuff. He knew there would be no space in DJ's room (half the size of Adam's), and he was determined to move in there. He told me it made him miss DJ less to sleep in his room. Personally, I avoided DJ's old room. It reminded me he was no longer there and I was not planning to miss him more than I had to.

The orange room has remained empty. This has allowed us to make room for company when they drop in, but still feels odd. DJ comes for dinner a couple of times weekly, and sometimes takes Adam and/or Tabitha to lunch or shopping. He relies on me for nothing. I commented once that if he needed anything, we would be happy to help him. He laughed and told me I'd raised him well enough, he was pretty sure he'd be okay on his own. And he will be.

Darrin's father is talking of spending four months each year with three of his children. Darrin has invited him to stay with us during one of those four-month periods. Our ugly orange room will have a new occupant--one who is congenial, but no substitute for my DJ. I'm not sure how I feel about this, but my father-in-law has been through some recent emotional trauma and he needs us. I guess that's the most important thing.

But I still can't help feeling that having children is some cosmic joke played on us by God. We fall in love with them, devote our lives to them, live each day trying to teach and provide and care for those cute babies who grow into adults--and the sole focus of this is to get them to the point where they can leave us. It seems unfair, somehow. And I don't want my children living with me forever...I just don't want them to leave me behind...actually, I'm not sure what I want...

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