What really happens when your kid goes away for the summer

12291294 - can telephones

The second week into what I’ve dubbed Margaret’s summertime ‘leave of absence’ and, admittedly, I’m still adjusting. Like most things in my life, what I’d envisioned I’d be feeling couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m one of those people who thinks in terms of movie scenes. (Which is odd since I rarely make it to the movies.)  Life’s many ironies seem to be the perfect fodder for what’s to come in the following scene after the director in my imagination yells “cut!” Here’s an example. Reluctantly, you decide to join Weight Watchers after debating it for months with your significant other. The first day of the program, finally convinced this is the right thing to do, you say to yourself, “I’ve got this!”

Next scene: you are standing on the scale  at Weight Watchers two weeks later in shock and disbelief at the five pounds you gained.

You get the idea.

So, here are the things I thought I’d be feeling versus what I am actually experiencing with regards to Margaret living away from us to attend a theater program in Los Angeles this summer.

Her chronic need to argue with me

What I’d imagined I’d feel: Peace, like I’d never felt it before.

What I’m actually experiencing: Like I’m detoxing from an addictive substance that took over my life –  and slightly paranoid that when she returns, she’ll take advantage because I’ll be completely out of practice.

Her beyond messy room

What I’d imagined I’d feel: Like I’m on cloud nine every time I walk down the hall, kind of like that scene in Naked Gun where Leslie Nielson and Priscilla Presley walk out of Platoon giddy with laughter because everything in the world seems temporarily perfect.

What I’m actually experiencing: Sadness. Every time I pass her room I’m reminded that like the mess, she isn’t here. And I’m finding that not only do I miss her – I also kind of miss the mess.

Feeding the cats

What I’d imagined I’d feel: Relief from the daily frustration that I have to remind her to feed the cats because they are meowing like crazy at the crack of dawn while she’s been up an hour and yet miraculously doesn’t hear them.

What I’m actually experiencing: Frustration at the cats for meowing so loud they wake me up at the crack of dawn and I have to get up to feed them instead of yelling, “Margaret, feed the felines!”


What I’d imagined I’d feel: Like I’m communicating with a global positioning system app robot. – completely devoid of emotion.  (“Day was good” or “OK”)

What I’m actually experiencing: Like Margaret’s had a reverse lobotomy.  She’s never, ever been this effusive with me.  (i.e. “I love you momma!” or “How was your day? or “I miss you!”)

Rolling her eyes at me

What I’d imagined I’d feel: Relief that Facetime has poor quality video so I can’t see her eyes clearly enough when she rolls them during our chats.

What I’m actually experiencing: Facetime comes through a lot clearer than I thought it would.  (No rolling them yet though – phew!)

Chit chatting with her

What I’d imagined I’d feel: Completely uninformed about what’s going on with Margaret because she doesn’t really understand that you CAN actually talk into a phone.

What I’m actually experiencing: Margaret is like “Fun Bobby” from Friends when he’s drinking. The phone seems to lower her inhibitions so she is not only more fun to talk with but she also divulges much more on the phone to me than she does in person. (A bonus is that I can’t see her rolling her eyes if she does.)

Of course, as I’m posting this today I’m reminded that when we spoke yesterday said she’d call me after her performance last night…and yet she didn’t. However – I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and imagining she was just crazy tired and fell asleep just before she hit “call mom.”

After all, it’s my movie, right?






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