If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, March 9, 2009

Growing Pains

Angel came home for the weekend. It is Spring Break for both of us. Originally he was going to be home for the entire break so he could work but there is no work. So he decided to go backpacking with his fraternity brothers for the rest of the week. He came home to hang out, eat, and borrow gear. Boredom has always been Angel's nemesis. Just the thought that he may end up bored strikes terror in his heart. There is no way he felt he could survive a week home without friends or work to occupy him. But a weekend appears to be doable.

Friday night we all went to the dojo together. During the workout he appeared unmotivated and not very social. As soon as we left he became highly critical of everything taught or not taught in the dojo. I held my tongue. Much of Saturday was similar. We had to run errands as a family and went out for lunch. His comments seemed harsh and rigid to me. He seemed defensive and I, in particular, seemed to be doing nothing right in his eyes--from my feminism to my dieting to my career choice.

I tried hard to let things roll off my back and not take them personally. Earlier in the week a colleague mentioned his family expecting him to go home for regular visits but how being with family can push your buttons. I know this myself only too well. I don't want to push Angel's buttons or allow him to push mine. I want an adult relationship with him; I don't want him to feel that he is being pushed back into a box every time he visits. I want to be able to enjoy the man he is becoming without missing the boy each time I see him.

These transition visits are difficult for both of us. It is hard to find comfortable ground between who he was and who he is. Young adults often assert their adult status by rejecting beliefs and values of their parents; by taking a strong stance and defending it. I imagine this is particularly hard when you (a) mostly agree with your parents and (b) have very laid-back parents. So sometimes the arguments/discussions get very lame and far-fetched. However it is mostly the hostile tone and attitude that bothers me. I think I'm pretty good at not taking it personally; at seeing it as an internal struggle and feeling sympathy for him. However it is hard to go long stretches of time in his presence without feeling the love. I think it is the absence of warmth that bothers me the most.

Saturday night Pumpkin and her friend/my student came over for dinner. The weather had been gorgeous all day so b grilled and we all hung out in the backyard eating dinner by candlelight and then sitting around the firepit. Angel joined in but was rather quiet and kept disappearing to work on a fraternity project. The fraternity is pretty much his world now. After the girls left, he came into our room and snuggled on the bed--working--while b and I watched TV. Then this morning he called me into his room for a snuggle and we spent a pleasant day together--no real deep conversations but no defensiveness or hostility either. At the end of the day we all had a nice dinner and then off he went.

I know one day visits will be happy occasions, I just don't know when.


Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

As someone who had a hard time asserting my independence, the visits home got much better after my first year away. If it can happen with me, it can happen with anyone. I'm sorry that it's so hard for you. [As an aside: I instant messaged my dad after reading this and apologized for being so difficult. He appreciated it. So, thank you for posting this.]

MsPrufrock said...

I still have trouble going back home and not having an attitude, and I'm 30!

I'm glad that at least some of the visit was pleasant. I'm sure he'll come round soon.

Julie said...

I used to be that way, too. I remember coming home from college, and everything my parents did irritated me. I think it's how we establish our independence and launch into adulthood. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier when I irritate my daughter:)