I went a little crazy. I came unglued. Jumped into the deep end.
Fortunately, my crazy ended and I regained my composure. Then I asked myself why and how I got to that point. Then of course I had to write about it.
Working the night shift doesn’t usually bring out the best in people. There is a constant level of exhaustion that you just learn to live with. I function. I do all that I need to do each day. I do it well. Until today.
The people closest to us, the ones we love the most, are the people who know us the most intimately. They know our nuances They know our foibles. They know which buttons to push to lift us up. They know the buttons to push to tear us apart. And they know the crazy button. Today, two of the people in my life pushed my crazy button within minutes of each other. Yeah.. not my most shining moments. I was waaaay more human than I ever like to get. I was actually ashamed of myself. And the worst part is.. once that button got pushed, its like it had its own power. And I wasn’t strong enough to un-push it. I couldn’t stop the course of the runaway train that was my ranting behavior.
I wanted to protect my son. To keep him safe. Regardless of what it cost me personally. If I gave up some much-needed sleep to keep him from harm, in my eyes it was well worth anything I would lose. So with my son, we created a plan that would get him where he needed to be, (at Wednesday evening church classes), in the best way possible. My ex was not available to drive him because he had to bale hay and would be 6-10 miles away in a tractor. My ex gave our son, age 12 permission to drive the pick up these 6-10 miles to go pick up his dad. HELLO! I was right there.. and I could drive him without this complicated (and illegal) arrangement. He’s 12. Not licensed to drive on city streets. Just because he drives a race car around in a circle in a well-defined and protected race track.. DOES NOT mean he can legally drive on city streets. Then my ex pressed my crazy button. “He’s a farm kid, he does it all the time.”
My head started spinning in circles. My ex walked over to the tractor and drove away. I explained to our son, that since I was right there and a licensed driver, it would be in everyone’s best interest if I drove him to church. Crisis averted. Or so I thought. I laid down to sleep for an hour or so before his classes started.
After 30 minutes had passed, Hunter woke me to ask if he could use my cell phone to call his dad. He has his own cell phone to use, but in my sleepy stupor, it didn’t occur to me. Soon, I could hear my son talking to his dad from the other room. “Okay, I’ll drive over to get you”, made me fly from my warm bed. And then it began. Pajamas, sleepy stupor and all.
“But dad said I could”
“I can drive Mom” (Insert sarcasm here.)
“Well, you were sleeping”
“Mom you’re just dumb”
It became a power struggle. I hate those. I try to avoid them because no one ever wins. But Hunter is a head strong 12-year-old. He’s certain about things. No matter whether he’s wrong or right, he is certain about his opinion. And he can’t figure out why I’m so dense that I can’t see it his way. Which in his mind, makes me stupid. And with that, he walked out the door. I could hear him starting his dad’s pick up.
My blood boiled as I threw on a pair of jeans. My own mental conversation was not helping matters. My crazy button was flashing red.
“He’s 12 for crying out loud!”
“Farm kid or not.. he shouldn’t be driving on the road.”
“Something’s gonna happen.. ”
I raced out the door grabbing my own keys.. it wasn’t until I reached the gravel on the driveway that I realized I was barefoot. (I’m not a barefoot kind of girl)
Hunter was rounding the curve of the driveway and stopped when he saw me coming in the car.
He was mad. I was mad. And tired and scared and relieved.
I drove Hunter to the church. And cried all the way home.
There was an hour and a half before he’d be done. I had been awake 22 hours and I had to be back at work in five short hours away. I needed to sleep. But there was something much more important that I needed to do. I needed to compose myself. And figure out what had just happened.
I did figure it out. Dang. Power and control, Manipulation. Selfishness. Risk Taking. Poor Choices. Misplaced Priorities. Exhaustion. Poor Communication.
Time sure flies when you’re figuring things out. I drove back to the church to retrieve Hunter. Within a few minutes, he came walking toward the car. The first thing I said was, “I love you.” “I’m sorry that we had such a terrible argument.” Then I went on to explain how much I love him and want to protect him and keep him safe in the ways that I can, every time that I can, Because I love him. I told him a story of sorts.. relating how much he loves his new niece, and all of the things we all do to keep her safe, and take care of her. Within a moment or two he seemed to ‘get it’.
Then I went on to explain that just because he races a car, wearing all of that protective gear, with emergency personnel standing by, doesn’t mean that he should be driving around town to retrieve his dad. Even when his dad says it’s alright. I talked to him about consequences, and that if he got hurt.. or hurt someone else, he would not be able to get his license at 16.
I also talked to him about why his dad thinks its okay. His dad grew up on a farm driving tractors at age five. Milking cows on his own shortly after that. There were no safety laws back then. Kids drove on the farm all the time. ON THE FARM being the key words.
Hunter and I worked things out. He understands why I want to keep him safe and out of harm’s way. He understands why his dad thinks its okay. We ended with hugs and I love you’s.
Talking with his dad is always more difficult. He is certain too. Rigidly certain. Unwaveringly certain. Regardless of the consequences. In his eyes nothing is more important than farming. Nothing. So what ever risks are taken, are worth it. Our conversations never end with hugs or I love you’s.
In my eyes, nothing is more important than caring for the people we love. Nothing. Protecting them, teaching them, allowing appropriate freedoms and responsibilities. Being 12 has its own freedoms and responsibilities. He doesn’t have to be 16 yet. He doesn’t have to be an adult yet. Cause he’s not.
Of course I learned some things from this situation. I learned that if people are repeatedly pushing your crazy button, you’d better pay attention and figure out what role they can play in your life.
If they are not pushing the other healthy buttons too, it’s probably not a relationship you want to be in.
For me, there’s a reason my ex, is an ex. He is in my life as a co-parent. God help us both.
My next words were important… a prayer actually. “GOD, PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE”
God answered my prayer the very next day. The phone call came at 1:25 pm. The voice on the phone said, “The apartment is yours! When would you like to move in?”
The perfect apartment, in the right location, is finally going to be home. Let the moving begin!