I Can’t Wait to be an Empty Nester

And I feel guilty as Hell
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

28 days 17 hours 35 minutes and 26 seconds.

That is how many days until December 31. That is how many days until my youngest child turns 18. I can’t wait and I feel guilty as hell.

I long to be an empty nester.

I’m frustrated with my son, again. Seems like I’ve been more frustrated with him the last two years than in the entirety of his life before. We have definitely had rough patches. He has attempted suicide numerous times. He has cut his arm so many times it looks like a cheese grater. He has smoked pot, gotten drunk, and tripped on cough medicine. Each time, he has done these things he has gotten sick. Not with the pot. Pot just makes his depression worse.

We have a mental hospital an hour’s drive away. The first time he went, after some back and forth with the social worker, he asked to stay there. This happened only after I went mama bear on the social worker telling her she couldn’t force him to stay. Not with his parents right there. Not when he hadn’t come in an ambulance. It had been a week since he overdosed. 

He finally admitted he wanted to stay. We said ok, of course, if this is what you want. The social worker assured us (after I apologized) my son would get the help he needed as an inpatient. My husband and I were actually a little relieved. We hadn’t slept or eaten much in the preceding week. We thought we would be able to rest up and get strong enough to face the emotionally challenging times ahead. We were wrong.

Our son was home in two and a half days.

I learned this hospital is an acute care facility. Meaning they get people stable and get them out as quickly as possible. So, all of that fuss was really for nothing.

The fuss continued at home as I scrambled to get him state insurance, as I made appointment after appointment. Psychiatric doctors, psychiatric social workers, psychologists for him, psychologists for the family, psychologists for me. 

The meds prescribed were just beginning to work when he decided he would rather smoke pot and drink than take medication. Weed and alcohol have an immediate and unmistakable effect. Psychotropic medication can take four to six weeks to work. It is understandable to me that so many people want to feel better right now.

His psychiatrist told him she wouldn’t prescribe medication if he tested positive for illegal substances. We live in Texas. Everything is illegal here, except shooting someone on your own property. Knowing he was going to test dirty, he simply stopped taking his meds. When we found vodka and weed in his room, he ran away. 

He came home three weeks later.

We continued in this vein for months. More drug induced sickness. More suicide attempts. More hospitalizations.

Finally we got him into a long term facility. It was mostly a rehab tha also prescribed psychotropic meds. He felt he didn’t belong there, but stayed the entire month, and attended their groups and meetings. 

He seems to have turned a corner. He wants to feel better, and he acknowledges medication will help him. He is working with his psychiatris, his social worker, and his therapist. 

Now, instead of huge worries, I get to have regular mother of a teen worries. I’m grateful for that. Still, I am parenting a teen. A teen who uses all the laundry soap, who eats everything including food I bought specifically with a meal in mind. I know better than to do meal planning in this family. I can’t seem to break the habit.

Photo by 42 North on Pexels

He leaves hair in the shower drain and bums my cigarettes. He can’t seem to figure out his bedroom light switch also goes down. He sleeps most of the day away and wanders through the house at night eating. His bedroom is a smelly obstacle course of computer monitors and dirty clothes. He either isolates completely or won’t give me a moment’s reprieve. 

Normal teenager.

He is moving to Washington state to attend a computer college. It is a technical school. One of those for profit deals. I worry he won’t be able to transfer his credit if he wants to continue his education. 

His birth mother lives in Seattle. He will be living with her to save on housing expenses. This terrifies me. She is an alcoholic and a meth user. I worry how my son will get his medication. His mother isn’t known for her ability to follow through with paperwork.

My oldest daughter also lives in Washington. Near Seattle. I’m hoping they can spend time getting to know one another on equal footing. She is almost twice his age at 32. 

I have all of these worries. But if I’m honest with myself, I am counting the seconds to his 18th birthday. I can’t wait to be an empty nester.

28 days, 16 hours, 36 minutes, 23 seconds.

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