This past weekend, my youngest child turned 21. I had to reflect on 3 years ago, when he turned 18, and how things were the same and how much they differ. On the day he turned 18, Young Son asked if we could go out to dinner at a wing place, his favorite. I gave him a card with $$ and we had a good time. After we ate, he asked me to drop him off at his father’s place. I didn’t see him again for 10 months. I’d get an occasional text from him to let me know he was still alive, but other than that, crickets.
At month 10, he calls. Wants me to pick him up from a hotel because his father is homeless, and they are about to be kicked out of the hotel because the rooms are booked for a football game. So I take him in, along with these stupid cats of his father’s, with the stipulation that he either goes to school or pays rent. He is almost 19 and I am not enabling him to waste his life. Of course, he chooses school, finishes his coursework in less than a semester, gets his high school diploma, and is now in his sophomore year of college.
For his birthday, he again wants to go out to eat, this time to BJ’s Brewhouse. We had celebrated his coming-of-legal-age the evening before after midnight, when I lined up several shot-sized drinks for him to try. So at dinner, we order a few drinks, and enjoy ourselves. He gets another card, with more $$. Again, he wants me to take him to see his dad. But his dad is homeless (again), lost his car to repossession (again), and is at a local pool hall. This time, Young Son asks me to wait. He goes inside, stays for 15 minutes, and comes out. He is ready to go home. To our home. He was quiet on the drive. Turns out…
His dad asked him for money.
So he gave him some of his birthday money.
My ex is biggest kind of loser.
When I start to wonder if it’s all worth it, I remember that Young Son needs me still. I can’t be a total buffer between him and his dad, but I can be a soft place to fall. And that is worth something. If he is disappointed in his dad, I have a better role model right in our own home.
Edit to add: I was a *little* petty on his birthday. I made a public facebook post wishing my son a happy birthday. My ex always hated it when I called him “my son” and insisted he was “our son”. But now I can call him anything I want 🙂