In a Blink, It was Different

11 Nov

One of My Favorite Photos of All Time - Yes - It is a Bit Old

I’ve taken a while to write about this because it’s not sassy or snarky. It is painful. And it is the most significant chapter of my current life book. I’ve started and stopped this post many times, and each time, the tears flow.

I’ve been a single mom for 14 years (my son is 17). It has not been easy. He was difficult. I’ve been tired. He got easier. We got better. Through all the ups and downs, it’s been the two of us in our little 1,000 sf house.Β 

Even in his teen years, we shared time together. I was going to West Coast Swing Dance events, and at the age of 13 he started dancing too. He’s really amazing (view demo)… I would have never imagined that he would have loved to dance so much, and that he would show so much natural talent. We traveled; we hung out in hotel rooms and ball rooms.Β  He stayed out of trouble, got good grades and has grown into a funny, smart young adult. I knew I was lucky to hang out with my kid.

But earlier this year, it slowly started to shift. He got a license and a girlfriend. He started flexing his “I’m independent” muscles. Even with the shift, I felt lucky that it had taken so long – and it still wasn’t too bad – although the conflict in our house grew.

And then it changed. He was done with me, and I was totally unprepared. I had this mental list of all the things I still needed to teach him before he left the nest. But he was done. And there was no going back. He still “lives” here, but he is gone a lot.

I blinked, and it was over. It changed that fast.

No more hot chocolate on the porch. No more hanging out at dance events. No more… No more… No more…

I was a mess, overcome with sadness and regrets.

I know in my head that it’s not “really” done – that I will always be his mother, he will always be my child – and most likely he’ll look to me for advice as he moves into his new chapter next year.

But I mourn.

I’m sad that I didn’t teach him how to take better care of himself. I’m sad that there were too many times that I was too tired to play. I’m sad that I didn’t learn to ride a bike sooner. I’m sad that this will be his last Christmas at home.

But through all of this, I started taking better care of myself.Β  Part of it was that I wanted to show him a few things. But a bigger part was that I had to or I was going to be swallowed up by my sadness.

Even though the tears are flowing, I am much better than I was this summer. I realize that this is bittersweet – and my job is to feel the bitter and open my eyes to the sweet – and I know there are some sweet parts. Health? Travel? Hobbies? Relationships? A new set of pans? (Hehehe – I had to throw that in.)

Dang! I can’t find a picture! That’s kind of sad too….

So here it is. the back story of my tripping down the fitness path. And I’m so grateful to all of you who have welcomed me into your circle. Thank you!

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26 Responses to “In a Blink, It was Different”

  1. merindab November 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Just a *hug*. I’m not a mother, so I can’t say I know how you feel, I just wanted to say your never alone.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      I love hugs! It is true – we aren’t alone – that has been such a wonderful discovery πŸ˜‰ Thanks again ~

  2. Karen November 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Oh I have a 17 year old too! 18 in a couple of weeks, actually. Sigh. Mine has been sort of done with me for a while now – very social guy. I worry about him making good decisions when he leaves home next year; worry that I didn’t do what I need to do and teach him what I needed to teach him. Too late now, I guess.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

      Karen – I hear you…. “People” tell me that they’re still learning, even though they aren’t “listening” – I’m not sure about that, but it sounds good, right? Funny, I can’t teach him what I don’t know/do, so the cooking thing was not gonna happen. But, he’s great with a spreadsheet and budgets and does his own laundry πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Kathy H November 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Wow! My oldest is 14 and I am seeing tiny hints of him wanting to branch out. I, being over protective, am struggling with a few of the new independent issues that arise. Nonetheless, I compromise with him, for now. I feel your sadness and appreciate you sharing your feelings which will help me when my time comes with him. Then my second (12) followed by my third (10). Sadly, yet excitedly, time is flying by and like you, I’m starting to take a wee bit of my focus away from my kids and turning it back onto myself with my health and fitness and have even set a goal to enter a spring 2011 fitness competition. Wanting to set one more example for my kids (& hubby).

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

      Oh Kathy – I hope it isn’t a “blink” for you – it was so very strange, and I was very unprepared for it! Trust yourself with your oldest – you know him best. I’ve been lucky, he hasn’t gotten into any “real” trouble. For the most part, he’s fairly responsible. But the conflict that comes out of it can be so ugly – sigh…. Good for you for taking great care of yourself – it is so important for us and for our family – keep us posted on your competition – that is so exciting! Thank you for stopping by ~ Kris

  4. run4joy59 November 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Aww…I’ve got tears in my eyes…I just want to remind you that even this period of his (and your) life will change…there will come a time when he and his wife and kids (you know, those grandkids that you will absolutely love with all your heart) will come to town to visit…and you’ll be the person they want to spend time with, not the kids he went to high school with, or the old girlfriends…you…because no matter how much time passes, no matter how things may change, you provided him with the memories that he’ll share with his children…and you are the biggest part of those memories…hugs to you today!!

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

      Aw – Patti – Thank you! You made me weepy πŸ˜‰ It’s true, it all changes – and I know that I have so much to be grateful for. Thanks again!

  5. spabettie November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    I do not have kids (just Basil!)… so I can only imagine.

    (( hugs )) my friend πŸ™‚

    (I LOVE the new set of pans!) … although I read it as “new set of plans” !

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Oh – Basil is precious! So glad he’s (she?) isn’t going to college. TY for the hugs – is it wrong that I’m thinking about the new pans and towels? Hehehehe – Not!

  6. Imelda Dulcich November 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    This is very sweet. I promise you he’s not going anywhere. He’s just seeing what he can “do” without mom, but he’ll love and need you more the closer it gets to college; and when he’s finally there. I just enjoyed every moment our son wanted to chat with us, hang with us and even when he told us he was going to “bounce” in his last year. Now he’s in college and he texts me almost every day, and calls every few days. Modern technology makes staying in touch a comfort.

    And, you will find that you’ll be more open to new things. I’ve found that I’m braver than I would ever have imagined – going to “Tweet-Ups”; signing up for classes to help me grow as a professional – and reaching out to others.

    Good thoughts to you. Nice post. Imelda

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

      Technology is an interesting thing – I’m thinking it will help… Perhaps? Thank you so much for sharing your experience – I so appreciate it. And it does seem that you’ve found the sweet side of this chapter. Education? New friends? Growing connections? That all is very appealing to me – so aside from the weepiness – I have a lot of hope and excitement – and I owe so much to my new friends that continue to teach me everyday. Thanks again – Kris

  7. Christina November 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    Dear Kris,
    I’ve been a single mom for 10 years & thank you, these are the warnings I knew would come. I have prayed for double days, the ones with an extra 24 hours, so school and work stopped eating up so many of our precious hours together. Healing myself rigorously for 7 years has made me realize the scam of the world: success is really at home with your loved ones, money can’t buy memories and the arms to bear are really bear hugs from children when you thought what you were working on was “important”. Nothing holds glamor but truth and honest connection, legacies of happiness are what we build and women, YOU being a major one that I’ve discovered, can change the universe by being living love. Your courage to lete read this has me in tears. Thank you. You get it…now I’m not so alone anymore ( or crazy!)
    Love to you and your son…I hope you convince him to have another hotel adventure with you, it will do many things & teach him to stay connected when his kids become “cool”.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

      Wow Christina –

      “The scam of the world,” — isn’t that the truth! “Honest connections & legacies of happiness…” so beautifully said. It’s funny because I’ve been putting this out there with people – IRL & digitally – and there seems to be a LONGING for honest and meaningful connections – the relationships piece that so many of us may be coming up short with, yet the piece that ultimately brings us the most satisfaction. Isn’t it lovely that we’re not alone? And crazy or not, that it’s absolutely OK and we’re definitely on track? There is so much comfort in knowing this and being able to share these feelings and longings with others. Thank you so much for your very kind and generous words – and yes, I’m plotting a trip – it may not be received well, but I feel a need to make it happen. Kind wishes to you ~ Kris

  8. Coco November 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Oh, this is so hard. My daughter is 20 and my son is 16.

    My daughter and I went through a long rough patch from 9th-11th grade, senior year was a roller coaster, but the day she left for college, our relationship got really good again. Maybe having that real space let her feel comfortable with being close again, or maybe I let go in the ways that she was fighting against (rules, curfew, etc.).

    My son hasn’t rebelled, but he is quiet. Since my mom got him a laptop last Christmans (grr!) he spends most of his time in his room – at least before he had to do Facebook on the den computer. He’s not isolating himself of hostile (we can always talk to him and he does watch tv with us) but there is less casual interaction.

    I will be a weepy mess when he goes to college, so I try not to dwell on it too much.

    On the other hand, I think of the relationships I have with my parents, and I have no right to complain. We just aren’t that “close” although we get along fine and see each other almost every weekend (at my son’s sports events).

    Wow, I bet you weren’t expecting me to dump all this here, but clearly you hit a nerve! πŸ˜‰

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 11, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

      Yep – disappeared into the cave of a room with a laptop…. It is a sad state of affairs in many ways and our home is no different. That’s lovely that you and your daughter reconnected – so lovely indeed. The weepy mess part was completely unexpected — shocking actually! I’m not a Cleaveresque mom, and I just didn’t expect to feel this way. We’ve had bit of an unorthodox homelife LOL. That said, it has brought a lot of other things up for me – my health? my long term boyfriend? how I spend my time? So I am very grateful for that. I think I would be rather doing this soul searching now, rather than 20 years from now…. And, uh, that was not a dump my friend – I’m glad we connected through this! Hugs ~ Kris

  9. eatmovewrite November 11, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    That really touched my heart. I cannot imagine how that is. As I get older and have seen my parents struggle with empty nest syndrome, I’ve begun to realize how heartbreaking it is to be a parent from the very start in some cases. All the harder as a single mom, I have no doubt. Know that you’ve given him an incredible foundation. He will need to find out who he is without you for a while, but ultimately, he will come back around and the lessons you’ve given him will still be there. They will be, don’t worry. ❀

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 12, 2010 at 6:59 am #

      Jasmine – TYSM! I’m learning that the empty-nest “thing” can be a really big deal for folks. Married couples learn how to be with eachother without the kids. Parents rediscover how they want to spend their time. Everyone asking, “Who am I?” He is very independent – a great traveler, great with money, mature – so I am proud of that. He will not be someone who will live with me into his 30’s LOL. It will be interesting (exciting?) to see how he continues to grow in his new chapter, and yes, I have a feeling he will poke around for a bit. Thanks again ~

  10. gettinfitbritt November 11, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    This is beautiful, thank you for sharing your life with us! Know that we are here for you through it all!

    ❀ ❀ ❀

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 12, 2010 at 6:59 am #

      Ah – you are so sweet! It really has been beautiful knowing that we’re not alone – there is so much comfort in connection. Thanks again ~~

  11. Heather @ Not a DIY Life November 12, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    Kris, thank you SO MUCH for sharing! Our stories are different, yet the same. This is change and it’s hard. Transitions. The unknown. It’s all scary and different, but sharing your story allows us to join you in this journey. Thanks for allowing us to walk with you. πŸ™‚

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 14, 2010 at 7:17 am #

      Heather ~ You’re so right – so different, but so similar. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about these “universal” paths that we travel that include all sorts of challenges, lessons, seeking. Isn’t if funny how social media connects us? Isn’t it funny how we might “follow” someone and think, yeah – they’re cool, and then we learn more and find out things that shows how we connect? It’s been a pleasure learning more about folks and sharing a bit with eachother. Thanks again Heather ~

  12. Todd@PhitZone November 16, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Kris, thank you for sharing. I don’t look forward to those days, which are probably not far off.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 16, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks Todd – Yes, it changed for me in a blink & I was totally surprised! Hopefully for you, you’ll get a couple of blinks πŸ˜‰

  13. Sarah @ Low Stress Weight Loss November 22, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    I totally get it. I have had a really rough couple of months recently & I backed way off the weight loss focus while I weathered the storm.

    Learning about limited self control helped :
    http://lowstressweightloss.com/blog/where-are-you-spending-your-limited-self-control/2361

    I’m fine now (news on my blog on Wednesday) but I just didn’t have the mental bandwith to keep my sanity & worry about my diet.

    • Kris O'Connor @Krazy_Kris November 23, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      Sarah – Thanks so much for taking time to stop by and comment – I LOVE your article on self-control – it is so true. Yep, for me, my well runs dry sometimes, and the bandwidth is stretched too thin. Great piece on keeping priorities and remembering the relationships that matter. Thanks again!

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