Together for Better or for Worse
I used to be afraid to leave them alone—together. It seemed that every time I went grocery shopping, to the dentist, over to a friend’s house, I’d come back to what was equivalent to Armageddon. Chairs would be tipped. Food on the counter, on the table, down the stairs, all over the basement couch. Wrappers littered the living room floor, the front steps, the driveway, front lawn. Something was always broken; mirrors, furniture, windows, toys…limbs. Occasionally, while I was gone my cell phone would ring and when I’d answer it, there’d be blood curdling screams on the other end. One boy was threatening to kill the other. One son had pummeled another. Most of you might’ve jumped from the dentist chair, left the groceries in the middle of aisle 12, or politely told the friend that you had diarrhea and took off fast in your car towards home. And…like you…I would do the same thing. Right-down-to-the-diarrhea.
So for awhile, I stopped leaving if they were both home. I held up like a trapped animal in my tiny master bedroom, ears perked, legs ready to run to break up a fight, mouth ready to scream to halt some destructive action. My husband and I were prisoners because of my “fear” of what might happen if I wasn’t there to control the outcome. My sons’ hatred for one another wasn’t going to ruin the house or the things I worked so hard for. I was determined to have a “happy” house. I was tired, so tired of the fighting and the bickering and the chaos. I was frustrated with their disregard for the peace I so desperately demanded.
Like I mentioned in the column last week, peace did come — however, not in the way that I expected. Gannan moved in with his father. Many said to me I should rejoice in the freedom that his absence offered. No longer would I have to worry about the violent fights and the shouting matches that had so permeated seemingly most moments of the day. But, I didn’t feel that way. I couldn’t see ANYTHING positive in Gannan’s leaving. Mothers are the greatest martyrs. They love. Even in the face of the most horrific pain, they still love.
Over the last 6 months, we have seen Gannan periodically. Every other weekend he came to “visit.” Most times, I didn’t have to worry or even think about that old problem of not being able to leave the house. Aidan, after all, has a very nice girl friend, and so much of the weekends were spent with her somewhere (ANYWHERE) but home. But last week, Gannan’s father went away and Gannan stayed with us for a longer stretch of time than those brief weekend “visits.”
Days before he came, that old fear began to creep into the cob webby part of the corners of my mind. I started to steel myself on the notion that for several days I’d once again be a prisoner in my house so that I could be there to control my sons’ behaviors. To be sure they walked the line. To be sure they stayed away from each other. To be sure that there was peace in the house.
The first night, the boys begged me to let them play the X Box together. Nothing violent, just an innocent game of NHL. And sticking to my word (written in the last column) I tried to focus on the positive and gave them ONE chance to get it right. I didn’t hear from them for the next four hours. I take that back…I actually DID hear from them…but it was laughter and giggling and jovial competition that shot up the basement stairs like lightning. The next day, I got home from work to find them out into the street playing a game of one-on-one basketball. Humming the song, “You’ve got to ACCENTUATE the positive…” I pasted a smile on my face and asked who’s winning? “Awww. We’re not keeping score. We’re just playing around.” Gannan replied as if non-competition was some sort of everyday occurrence.
That evening, I needed to run to the store. My husband was out, and once again, that old scared feeling took over. Instantly, my positive attitude melted away to the pushing resentment that seemed to enter every pore of me. Here I was again. Not able to leave my OWN home because those boys of mine fought as often as a child eats a peanut butter sandwich. However, a little bit of that positive voice remained and it whispered, “Give them a chance.”
And so, with a resolve that was not quite gargantuan, I opened the basement door and yelled down to those sons of mine. “I am going to the grocery store. I am so pleased that I am able to go with the knowledge that the two of you have grown up so much that you no longer need to fight and argue. I know you’ll take good care of the house while I am gone.”
Later, walking through the front door with grocery bags hanging off my right arm and a toddler in my left, I yelled to Aidan and Gannan for help. No answer. It was quiet. It was eerily quiet. The wee bit of post traumatic stress in me jumped up and yelled, “Somebody is hurt or worse…they’re DEAD.” (Yeah, I know. I know…bad.) I dropped the bags, gently put the toddler down and began moving through the house quickly and methodically looking for any traces of destruction or…okay I’ll say it…blood. By the time I got to the back door, my heart was pounding in my ears. I slid open the large glass door and step out onto the deck. I filled my lungs and shouted their names. Ok….I shouted in an extremely panicky voice their names. All of a sudden to the left of me, I heard giggling. I turned to see those two goofy boys rolling around on the trampoline together laughing at the frantic look that went with the panicked voice.
“Jeez mom. What’s the matter?”
“I got panicky when I couldn’t find you.”
They rolled their eyes in unison. And then the oldest said, “It isn’t like anything would have happened. We weren’t alone mom. We were here together.”
And so they were… they were there…together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed.