Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Home and Homeless

My daughter E has been on a month-long road trip.  She went to Rainbow Gathering in Georgia, then Naples, Florida.  I believe I posted about the incidents in Pensacola in another entry.  She’s been in New Orleans for several days and is finally back in the Dallas area.  I have missed her and I am glad she’s home.

The problem is, the place where she was staying is no longer available for her.  Apparently the homeowner decided that before E left, but nobody told her until she was on the way home.  Considering what a vagabond she is, they probably didn’t expect her to come back.

I rent a room from someone else so I don’t have a place for her.  Her dad has passed away so he’s not an option.  She won’t stay with my extended family.  So there isn’t even anything I can do for her, she’s on her own about this.

It does make it more likely that she’ll hit the road and work renaissance faires though.  She was loving being on the road and we’ve talked about her working ren faires before, this might be just the thing for her.  I’ll have to figure out paying for her phone and her meds, but other than that she can figure it out herself.

I can’t tell if I am being reasonable as a parent or neglectful.  I mean there’s only so much I can do for her, she’s an adult now.

I wish I could fix it though.


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Sea Fever

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
     So this was, at one point, my father’s favorite poem.  I wanted to memorize it to honor him (he passed in 1984) but I have only gotten as far as the first couplet.  There are two other poems which I might share later that I would also memorize for him.  This is odd to me because Dad was a scientist, you wouldn’t think of him reading poetry.  Mom was a librarian, you’d think of her being more involved in literature, but I don’t know of a poem that was meaningful to her.  Just two books:  the Bible and The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
     Anyway, what brings all this up, is that my cousin sent me a picture today of Dad and Nana (his mother) on the boat we had while I was young.  The name of the boat was Sea Fever, after the poem above.  We sailed out of Beverly Harbor, through a facility called the Jubilee Yacht Club.  Here’s their website, they still exist.
     Now don’t get the idea that I grew up all rich because we owned a boat.  We didn’t have color TV or wall to wall carpeting or a dishwasher or even wallpaper.  But Dad wanted to sail, which we did many weekends, so we had a boat.  She was a 32 foot sloop, which means she had one mast with a sail on both sides of it, and a jib out over the bow.  All my memories of time on that boat are very visceral.  I miss the ocean, living landlocked as I do now.
     So I’m going to add the picture, my Nana looking prim and a little uncomfortable, Dad relaxed with a can of Budweiser in one hand and the tiller in the other.  Funny the things that bring up memories.  I can almost feel the rocking of the ocean and hear the seagulls and the lines clanking against the mast. This is probably around 1974; I believe by 1976 Dad owned a share in a small plane.  Look at Dad being all casual in trousers and a button shirt.  Notice that nobody wore jeans in my family, while I practically live in jeans these days.  It was a different era.


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Letting Go

I am a mother.  About 22 years ago, I gave birth to the world’s most perfect child.  Which, of course, every mother probably thinks.

Only now she isn’t a child any more, she is an adult.  A YOUNG adult, but an adult nonetheless.  And probably not that young, come to think of it.

When I was 19, my parents died.  I was thrust into the world on my own.  By 22, I had gotten myself under control.  I can’t say I was a hugely successful adult, but I was working on it.  I don’t feel like my daughter is nearly as adult as I was.  Maybe that’s my own nearsightedness.  Maybe we always think too highly of ourselves.

My daughter has taken off on a road trip for a month.  A month!  Three girls and two dogs in a car with no money for a month.  She is loving it.  I am scared to death.

Okay, not scared to death but nervous as hell.  What about phone or meds?  Well those things are on me, actually.  I said I would pay her phone for her so she has that security.  Meds are more on her.  There isn’t much I can do about that.  She’s going to have to find a Kroger and come up with the money.  I might have to pay by phone, I don’t know.  I can’t help worrying.

What about the other people on the road?  What if she has a fight with her travel companions or something happens to one of the dogs?  Who will she meet, that might hurt her.  She is going to Rainbow Gathering, where there will be drugs and alcohol, no doubt.  She isn’t clean, she’ll try stuff.  What if something goes wrong with the experiment?

And yet, this is exactly what’s supposed to happen.  She’s supposed to grow up and build a life apart from me.  Take the trip while she’s young and optimistic.  Do the stupid things while there’s time to recover.  Live!  Live the life she dreams of, before reality sets in and she has to sell out to pay for the daily needs.   How many of us work a job that doesn’t make us happy just to pay for rent and food?

I am supposed to let her go.  Push her out of the nest and watch her fly away.  I wonder if mother owls go through that.  “Get out, get out, get out, no, don’t go!”  Probably not.  Nature doesn’t second guess itself.

So she goes and I chew my fingernails.  I hope she never sees me do that.  I want a strong brave adventurous girl, not a wimpy little person afraid to take a risk.   I want her to fly strong and swift.

In about 25 years, I won’t be able to live alone any more.  I’ll have to come home to her nest and wait out my days.  Separation isn’t forever and the roles will reverse.

Until then, I watch her head out and miss her.


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On Being a Mother Hen When Your Chick Needs an Eagle

My daughter is approaching her 19th birthday. Seriously, next week she’ll be 19.

For most of the last year, she has talked about how she doesn’t want to handle things on her own, she wants a parent to do it for her, she isn’t ready to adult.

She says it that way, with “adult” as a verb. I think, but don’t say to her, that most of us are still figuring out how to adult! A lot of us are still faking it until we make it, and are a little nervous that someone might actually discover we don’t really know what we’re doing. At least not all the time.

Now, on the cusp of her 19th birthday, my daughter came to me shyly and asked if she could tell me something. She hemmed and hawed for a minute, then started with “I’ve been thinking about some things . . .” which kind of trailed off. So I cut her some slack, since I am impatient sometimes, and told her to just go ahead and blurt it.

“Would you still be okay if I didn’t live with you?” she asked, all eyes and uncertainty.

No, I thought, no I will not be okay. I haven’t had nearly enough chance to be your mother. I haven’t loved you enough. I haven’t bought you everything you ever wanted. I haven’t been your best friend. I haven’t sat at the dining room table and done homework with you. I’ve been a crappy role model because all I can do is take care of today so you’ve never had someone show you how to plan for the future or pursue a dream. I never even taught you to drive. And when you go, I will be all alone and my world will be smaller and darker and emptier. No I will not be okay.

But that isn’t what I said, because even though it’s true, it isn’t exactly true. For most of her life, she lived with her dad, not with me. I have lived without her before. I will go to work, hang out with friends, go away on weekends, go shopping, read books, feed the cats. Life will go on pretty much the same as it always has, I will just live alone. I’ve done it before. I’ve done it most of my life in fact. It’s normal for me. I’ll be fine.

Plus, well, I’m not young any more myself. I’m 50. It’s not exactly old but I outlived both my parents who were 47 when they died, so this is kind of a milestone. I’m entering the second half of life, and at some point there will come the time when I won’t be able to live alone any more. When that happens, I’ll be back at her door telling her she needs to put her life aside at least a little and make room for me to come home. Not right away, but maybe in 25 years or so.

It sounds like a long time, but when you’re busy having a life, it’s surprisingly short.

I’m looking at my bucket list, culling the list simply because I’m not sure there’ll be enough time to do all of it any more, deciding what adventures I must have and which ones I won’t regret passing up. I’m thinking about, what are the last things I want to get done in life, to be sure they are complete and I am full of memories and experiences. Some of them I need to do now while I still have energy and ability to do them, so I’d better get on with it.

My daughter? She’s just starting out. She’s at the other end of this process. She has a whole wide world out there waiting for her and she doesn’t even know what she wants to do with all the time she has. Not yet fully, anyway, even though I think she has a basic plan.

Tell her to stay here with me, to be limited by my limitations which are only going to increase in coming years? Clip her wings so she can’t see what’s over the horizon? Not a chance. This is her time to go and do and experience. Have adventures. Fall in love. Change her mind. Whatever it is she needs to do to be a full person and a citizen of the world.

“Would you still be okay if I didn’t live with you?” she said.

This is not asking permission, even though it’s phrased that way. This is a declaration that after a year of saying she’s not ready, now she’s ready.

Now she’s ready and I want to fluff my wings around her and say, “No, no, you’re fragile and it’s not safe, and you need to stay here with me.” Instead, I keep my hands in my lap and I don’t get emotional.

“Of course I’ll be okay,” I say.