“Hey are you awake?” texted my son yesterday morning. “Can call you?”
I knew something was up, I paused, took a breath, and prepared for what I like to call, an incoming.
From that moment on, the previous day’s birthday upset looked like a cakewalk. So my youngest wanted to hang out in his room on his 16th birthday. Whoopee. That’s not a big deal compared to what my middle son relayed as soon as I answered the phone.
This one, who works for Apple and is Mr. College Poster Boy, lost his resident assistant gig. In other words, there went half his ride.
Between his job at Apple and being an RA, his college costs were covered. But his over-achievement in all of his additional roles – student government, class representative, orientation leader, event team leader, let’s not forget a full course-load – his grades went down. So far down that he missed the GPA cut-off requirement by a fraction of a percent.
I’m adept at crisis management, God knows I’ve had enough practice to last perpetual lifetimes. But this one stung, deep in the gut, and in the pocketbook.
A mother is never off duty. She may think she is – that whole midlife change is supposed to bring freedom, a renewed sense of self, dancing around the house naked and having wild sex with her husband. It’s a myth.
It killed me to hear my son in distress. Although he had a week to absorb the fact that he had been laid off before he called his mom. So this one came out of the blue of course – but what else is new. I am good at handing incomings.
Over the years I’ve learned how to dodge their hits, and slow these stress missiles down. I can grab them in mid-air and juggle them until I diffuse their impact. That’s not to say it’s easy. Triaging crises no matter how big or how small eventually takes a toll.
I spent the day working with him, explaining how to set up a budget, the costs of living off-campus, the costs of real life. He went to look at apartments while I was on the phone, he shared videos, and we talked about Plan Bs.
It’s hard to have him 10 hours away, we rarely see him and miss him so very much. I secretly hoped he might move home due to this change in course. You know – get his finances in order, and go to school in Boston, where we are about to live. That was his home once before, so it’s a familiar cushion.
There’s a lot to consider now – especially how to pay for everything without the RA safety net. But he thinks he has it under control, so this is the part where I have to stand by, watch and wince as he tries to work it out.
But it’s visceral. This incoming hit my mother-gut. I know this is a life lesson for him. He lost his ride. His path has changed. Our path has changed. The comfort-zone is gone. Life is different than I ever thought it would be…seems there’s always more to learn.