Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In which I suffer from emotional incontinence

Z-man -- off in faraway collegeland -- pretty much vanished off the face of the earth for about three weeks.

He didn't answer his cell phone. He didn't answer text messages. He wasn't online. He didn't answer emails.

At first, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was busy. He was in college feeling his independence. Surely this was a good thing.

Eithe that, or his grades were really bad and he was avoiding me.

But as the days wore on, I began to get a little panicky. I was thinking about whether it was too helicopter parent'ish to call the school when he finally surfaced online Sunday and actually answered my instant message.

At that point, he very sheepishly admitted that he just hadn't felt like talking.

And that he had been keeping a secret.

A secret that he now felt he should have shared with me. But hadn't.

The secret was this:

He has been in an emotional pit and has been taking anti-depressants (properly prescribed) since the end of February.

My baby boy is broken.

Of course, my first thought was to get on a plane and run to him. IMMEDIATELY.

I already had started looking at flights. I had cleared it with my boss. I would have left tomorrow.

But he was unsure.

In a way, he said, it was like a tease. He wanted to see me, but the idea of a short visit was actually making him more anxious -- though he couldn't explain why.

I offered him a weekend at home instead -- Passover, perhaps.

He answered immediately: "Yes, yes, yes."

And so on the evening of April 17, my baby boy will come home for four days.

I need to see his face.

I need to touch him.

I need to reassure myself that he is still whole and ok.

So far, I think I have seemed pretty level-headed and calm.

In my head, though, I am wailing.

In my head, I am wracked with guilt.

Why guilt? Why not?

He wants to be home.

We have always called Z-man "the boy who never left." I explained it last year in his birthday post here. Read that. It hurts too much to explain it again.

And that's why I have guilt. Because perhaps I didn't prepare him the way I should have. Perhaps in holding him close, I failed to give him what he needed to spread his wings and fly from the nest successfully.

Does this mean that he will not go back next year? I don't know. I would like to think that he can give it the old college try. That we will just be better prepared for how he thinks and feels.

Or maybe we should just find a culinary institute in our area and let him train for the career he adores in the safety of his hometown.

It's a conversation we will have when he comes home next week.

I hope I say the right things.

I hope I do what's best.

My baby boy is broken.


Sadie said...

I hope his journey home is safe. I know you will find the right words. Your a mom, and the answers will come!!

The Laundress~JJ! said...

Oh Janet.

I want to hug you right now.

You are such a wonderful mom, you did and will continue to do what's best for Z-man.

If you were too helicoper'ish...he would have left a long time ago and not been as honest and close as he is now...he trusts you.

He may be broken now (a part of life, I'm afraid) but he knows you will always be his crutch when needed.

Now, can I come live with you so you can teach me how to be such a great mom?

Tink said...

Leaving home is SO difficult. You want to be ready, but you never really are... It took me three years to fully adjust. I made some wrong choices in how to cope and I learned. I'm still really close with my Mom. It was her support and understanding that got me through. You two will get through too.

Jenni said...

I'm so sorry you and your boy are hurting. It's a good sign that he recognized what was going on enough to get help, isn't it? My prayers are with Z-Man.

Janet said...

I was in his shoes too, but at that time people just told you to "snap out of it." Not terribly helpful. Give him a hug from me when you see him and I'm available with stories numerous wrong turns that I took that perhaps he can avoid.

Robinella said...

Home time is what he needs. Is what you both need.

Kaytabug said...

Awww what a sweet b-day post that was.

This one made me teary a lil...just relating to the mother feelings you shared. I think it is amazing that he sought help, that is something a majority of men just don't do. I think this just shows that he was raised beautifully! He can admit when he needs help and actually ask for it. I can only hope that my boys will be able to ask for help whenever they need it and never be afraid to ask for it.

I just want to hug you and Z-man too!

nikki said...

Aw sweetheart, you're really having a crappy time lately. I hope your son finds himself soon. And I'm sure with your guidance and love he will.

LceeL said...

At least he was able to 'man up' and tell you what was going on. Which is a major step in the right direction and a step toward the day when he can get off the pills. I'm willing to bet he feels much, much better right now.

Leaving home is so hard. But it is something we all must do, someday, somehow, some way. Just be there, should he need you to be. Like you have been.

Mr Lady said...

I know I've said this before, and I am trying to not say it anymore, but DUDE. I wish you were older so you could've been MY mom.

He'll be alright. We're all a little broken.

mama speak said...

I feel so much for you. I went through something similar in college and now that I'm a mom I can only slightly understand what she must've been going through. (Although, she was one of those people who told me to "snap out of it" initially, but once she realized the leavity of the situation she was very supportive.)

I want to give you advice from "his" perspective, but I don't know enough about his situaiton. I do know this, don't make any dicisions about anything for a while. He's overwhelmed and deciding to move home or stay at school, etc... too major to deal with right now. Plan for all of it, and then move forward to decide when you have to. Even then you/he can always change your mind.

One thing that was really hard for me to grasp was that none of my decisions were written in stone; if I moved home, there was no reason I couldn't go back, if I flunked a class, I could always retake it, nothing has to be permanit if you don't want it to be. If he can truely grap that, it'll make some of it much less overwhelming. (Sorry all the mis-spelling.)

The Immoral Matriarch said...

He'll get better. He has you - I know he will.

anglophilefootballfanatic said...

Oddly enough I feel similarly but from his position. I never wanted to move away. It sometimes is clausterphobic to not be in proximity to my parents. So I get what he's feeling. My suggestion is to try to hold back as best you can & listen as a friend as well as a parent. Have him talk through all the issues and see what he thinks is best for him. I know your parenting style & think you will do just fine.

Burfica said...

Just be his mom and his rock and his soft place to fall all at the same time. When they are broken, boys need their mom's.

I'm sure you will do awesomely. Cuz you have tons of love, and support, and that is what is needed most.

Alison said...

big hugs to you and your little man Janet...I am so sorry you are going through this, but I am so happy he talked to you about it. You are a fantastic mom....everything will work out, just the way it is supposed to.

Judith Shakespeare said...

Aww, man...your anxiety is definitely understandable. But I'm glad to hear that he's coming home soon so that you can sit down and work everything out as a family.

After all, that's what families are for. :)

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Jana B said...

Wow... what a time to stumble onto your blog.

I've been taking anti-depressants (properly prescribed) for over a year now, and they have made a HUGE difference in my life... for the better!

So, my thoughts for you are...

Find out what condition they prescribed your sons meds for... depression? anxiety? Then read up on those conditions. They really are not that big of a deal... millions of people have these, and live totally normal happy lives! :)

They don't mean he's "broken", and it's not your fault (or anyone's, most likely).. it's probably just an imbalance of brain chemicals. So relax a little... ask him how you can help... and encourage him to keep at his schooling if that's what he wants to do. He's making it through the first year, which is the hardest adjustment!

Jana B said...

On a side note (or several of them)...

You sound like an awesomely cool mom. Wanna adopt me?

My "real name" is also Janet, and my teacher called me Interplanet-Janet once... but I'd never read the book (still haven't! lol) so it didn't really make a lot of sense.

Nice to "meet" you, I'm having fun reading your blog.

Janet said...

So it's true: we never stop worrying about our babies.


I hope the visit home has restorative benefits for both of you.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

NOT broken, just a little cracked. And aren't we all? Some people need a little glue in the form of pills, some need extra love, some need more opportunities to talk things out, and some need all of the above. But everybody needs glue from time to time.

Amy said...

My oldest went to college this year too, and if she had "disappeared" for three weeks I would have been dead by the time she surfaced - completely beside myself! Ahh, I don't know how you stayed calm. It sounds like he is smart and quite level headed (nice b-day post!). The time home will be good and you'll say the right things. (HUGS)

imaginary binky said...

I humbly hope that I can handle something like this with Amos the way that you have. Good job, Mom.

Joy T. said...

Awww I'm so far behind on blog reading and this is so sad :o( The days can't come fast enough for both of you I imagine. Hugs to both of you!

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Oh this made me especially sad, since we took our oldest to the school he'll probably attend next year today for the whole "we want you to come here" schpiel. I had in mind he'd be at a school much closer, the one he REALLY wanted to go to, but he was wait-listed and I don't think he'll get in off the wait list. The good news is at school B he'll be in the honor's program and it sounds fabulous. But it's also much further away, and he'll be GONE. And I have not at all allowed myself to think about him being gone. And when they're gone, you don't have much of a hand in a damned thing about their lives, do you?
I hope your son's visit home is just the thing to get him over the hump and that all works out for the best...
(p.s. I linked to your blog from Holly's)

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