Confessions of a semi-helicopter Mom.
My son, Blake, would be the first to tell you that I’m not really a helicopter Mom. He might even complain that I’m not motherly enough. That is, on the days I’m not driving him crazy mothering him too much. Or on the days he isn’t driving me crazy. Actually, that’s not a drive, it’s a short leap. For either of us.
You might call him a slow launcher.
He didn’t so much fail to launch, as take a slow, careful run-up to launching. I offered him my helicopter launch pad several times, but he seemed afraid of flight.
The umbilical cord wouldn’t stretch that far.
He moved to Georgetown, Texas and lived in the dorm at Southwestern University. So I moved to Austin, thirty minutes from his university. He was on campus four years, and I was thirty minutes away for two of those. He played basketball in college, and I was always in the stands, digging my fingernails into my palms, yelling, clapping, and on more than one occasion screaming, “That’s my son.” You know, embarrassing him in general, and making him feel good all at the same time. What Moms do.
His aunt, my sister, accompanied me to almost all his games, making the three and a half hour drive both ways. When Senior Day came around, she and I were the ones standing next to him on the court. Alongside all the other Moms and Dads. She is convinced people who didn’t know us were thinking, “Oh, look at those cute, blonde lesbians who adopted that huge Black kid.”
Did I follow him on purpose, you ask? Maybe. I got a job offer in Austin from an old friend. Since I had been coming home to my three bedroom, two bath house after seeing clients, and then just sitting in the car for ten to thirty minutes, unable to go inside to the emptiness, it seemed wise to take the job. My dogs, who waited impatiently inside the house for me to get out of the car, would thank me.
Not that my life hasn’t always been full. It has and is.
I did and do have good friends. Although it took awhile to build my support network in Austin, I go out for music, theater, movies, dances, open mic nights, my screenwriting group, and protest marches.
But I parented late in life, both my son, and during high school, his best friend. Our house was always full of boys. I took them on hikes, cajoled them into yard work, taught them to meditate, and cooked for them. Not a big Southern, Italian or Jewish mother spread, but at least fuel for their activities from skate boarding, BMX biking, and laser tagging to basketball. I loved it all. Even while he was in college, friends came home with him for weekends. Fairly often I came out in the mornings to find someone sleeping on the couch.
After college graduation, I took him on a trip to San Diego and San Francisco.
For six months, I got to be a Mom again, cooking dinner most nights, waking up to a house full of “boys” on the weekends. Being the designated driver on those same weekends. Being invited to hang out with him and his friends on Sunday Funday. Trying to impart words of wisdom in a last ditch effort to cover every possible thing he would need to know. On any subject. Ever.
He got a job after six months and moved into his own apartment within walking distance of his job. It was thirty to forty minutes away from me depending on traffic, which in Austin can be as bad as in L.A. I know because I’ve driven both.
I had heard of Moms who cleaned their grown kid’s apartments, and I refused to be “that” Mom. When I helped him move out two years later, I saw why “those” Moms cleaned periodically.
How could I possibly be called a helicopter Mom, when the only times I was in his apartment was when he moved in, and two years later when we moved him back in with me? I knew if I went over there I would start cleaning.
When he moved back in with me after two years at his job and in his own apartment, he needed a place to renew, and to figure out what he really wants from life. And of course to not have to pay rent so HE could save money. But he promises to take care of me when he goes viral, and I have faith in him.
While here, he wrote, directed, acted in, filmed and edited YouTube and Instagram comedy sketches as Moonlair360. He drove Uber and did some freelance videos to pay bills. It was a creative time for us both, as that was when I started writing and publishing more. We spurred each other on. Once more I was occasionally allowed to join Sunday Fundays.
Life was good. But, it put a huge damper on my dating life (not for the first time in this parenting journey). And then there was the night he came home around 2:30 a.m with a girl in tow, to find me still awake and reading in the living room. The girl entered first and did a full stop. I panicked, but good old southern manners kicked in, and I introduced myself to her. She busied herself paying attention to the cats, while Blake smiled sheepishly over her head. I hurried off to bed.
The next day, she was gone before I got up. When he came into the kitchen I asked, nonchalantly of course, “Did she know you live with your Mom?”
“She does now,” he answered. He got a new job and moved out soon after. Sometimes you just need the right trajectory to launch.