How is he talking to me and he looks like himself and his hands move like himself and I’ve sat in this chair across from him a million times while he sat in that chair across from me a million times? Now all his words in their order make no sense like cut up, strung up and mismatched pieces of fabric. I’m trying to smile on the outside and I’m praying he can’t tell that I’m screaming and crying on the inside.
I’m in awe, and it’s not in the fireworks way, or being at Disney way, or a nurse handing one of my babies in my arms for the first time sort of way. That’s all awe filled with joy.
Tonight he couldn’t tell me very importantly what he very importantly wanted to tell me. That’s awe filled with sad.
Falling asleep, broken heart. Scrunch tears and think of years ago, walking on a beach where he pulled me out of the water, laughed loud, called me “twinkle toes”, skipped a rock and bent down to hold my hand.
Things effected by Covid that are ok, but still not quite right: movie theaters, music concerts, some shopping experiences and the freaking DMV. It’s never been a walk in the park, it’s always usually a total PITA, but now it’s kind of a mess.
We had two reasons to go to one of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.
1.) New Driver’s License
Number 2 sadly, because, genetics…lost his wallet last week with his license, debit card, and some special un-needed but sentimental keepsakes. Some of those things include his Great America pass since he was nine, an old school ID, his social security card….YOWZA. Ok, that one was needed. Insert super big face palm. I feel like we need to report that or something.
And he also lost $100 in cash; hard-earned tips from the restaurant where he works. The day he lost it, he spent three stressed and upsetting hours retracing his steps, talking to all the management he could at the three places he went, searched his car multiple times, left his phone number everywhere. It’s gone. A bummer of a life lesson.
Sidenote: I just can’t relate with a human who would find a wallet in a parking lot and not try to do the right thing. It makes me so sad. I hope they get a flat tire, they ruin their favorite shirt in the laundry and a bird poops on their head.
2.) Driver’s Permit
Number three needed her drivers permit. She finished the class part weeks ago and was scared she was going to forget everything. Which I get. But dammmnnnn it’s hard to get an appointment. You have to wait weeks. It’s such a clogged drain that they have given people who have an expired license a six month extension. The best option for us with a busy schedule was just to suck it up and go.
The first time we tried to get her permit was a disaster. It was about three weeks ago. I had to take a half day off of work, which was hard in itself, and I was not having a good tummy day. I was trying my best to smile and be excited for her, but inside, it felt like there was a tiny, little angry person living in my intestines, repeatedly stabbing them with big fork.
A lot of my stomach issues are stress-related, so this wasn’t helping. I raced home from work and grabbed all the essential documents needed: social security card, a bill with her name on it, her driver’s school paperwork, a copy of her birth certificate. Let me repeat that, a COPY of her birth certificate. That’s what the school told me. A CO-PY. Or maybe they didn’t say that. Maybe it’s just…me. We all know it’s most probably just me.
The facility wasn’t close. We make the trek out to Schaumburg and got there at about 1:30pm. We pull in:
That scenario, for me in particular, was like an irritable bowel horror movie.
We waited in line and soon we were not the last people; we were giddy. She was so excited to get this…I was a little teary that I was already at this milestone with my baby. I had also already quietly made a plan that if I needed leave the line to run inside to the bathroom, I would do it very stealthily and with conviction. But so far, so good.
There was an older gentleman busker playing mediocre violin, but I was feeling jovial and supportive, so I gave #3 twenty bucks to go toss it in his guitar case. I told her to do it dramatically so everyone could see. I thought we would start a tip trend when everyone saw us do that. Crickets. Come on, humanity!
Finally, an hour and a half in; we were about 30 feet from the front door. An employee was checking people’s documents to prep everyone who was about to enter. I handed him everything, while I made what I thought were witty, funny and adorable side comments about our line wait. Number 3 nudged me a little, rolled her eyes almost out of her head and pretended that she didn’t know me. Then the man said, “I‘m sorry but this is a copy of her birth certificate. We need the real thing.”
“What?” I said?
“This is acopy of her birth certificate. Do you have an original with the stamp on it?” When he said that, I started to get a little dizzy, I couldn’t seem to find any air and his voice was warped like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Number 3 was shocked and looked at me like a just ran over a baby bunny.
I was horrified, She was horrified. But…I…you see…I ….was digging in a dark closet, trying to grab things out of our file cabinet…it’s looked like a birth certificate, it felt like a birth certificate, it smelled like a birth certificate…I was going to throw up. My sweet daughter. I’m not sure what embarrassed her more, the fact that we had to leave in front of everyone or the very obvious crying of her very distraught mother. What a SHIT. SHOW.
Pivot, heal, relax, re-group, re-charge.
Three weeks later, we tried again. I grabbed number 2 to kill two birds….This time we got up at 6am, headed out to Waukegan, whipped through Dunkin’ and pulled in…
OK, ok, ok, OK. It wasn’t that bad. The weather wasn’t horrible and we actually kind of had fun. In true Moran fashion, we made lots of new besties around us, with people we will absolutely never see again. Number 3 was so nervous for her test, so we pulled up an online practice test and she was asking me for all the correct answers. Dear Lord…the wrong parent took her. Number 2 wasn’t much help either…who can remember these little things?
We made it to the hot spot; the entrance door (past the scene of that last crime), so I felt victorious. You can’t see it because of the glare, but right in the doorway behind the glass, the security guy had this huge Uzi megaphone thingie and it was right near me when I was waiting there and it took every little strength in my body not to pick it up and yell “BREAKER BREAKER ONE_NINE!”
Number 3 said, “MOM, NO.” She knows me.
Inside, the employees were wonderful. Kind, helpful and sweet, we went through both processes painlessly. It’s not their fault that China created Covid and now we have long DMV lines. #2 and I had to go outside and wait for #3 to take her test and when she came out smiling, we knew she passed. Easy peasy.-ish. We were home by 10:00am!
Yesterday I did what I’m sure looked like an obligatory Facebook brag post. Especially to people who probably don’t have school-age children, or …any children. But the ones who had to hands-on watch their children navigate their education through a pandemic every day for the last year, I bet they got it.
I didn’t post that for myself. I already know how neat my kids are; I get to live with them every day. When I posted that, I posted that for her. Whether it helps her read it today or it helps her when she reads in 20 years, she needs a reminder that her mom loved her and what she overcame. She will see what I wrote, remember the lovely comments shared from people who are dear to us and see a picture of what she looked like at that moment.
Just because she did well and got straight A’s, doesn’t mean that she didn’t work. her. ass. off.
It’s not a scenario where things come easy to her, look at how perfect she is, blah, blah, blech. The real truth is that I watched her study and worry and plan and make goals and work really hard to finish them. That’s all on her.
And she did all of this basically sitting on a mattress, on her bedroom floor, surrounded by Cheetos’s, our loyal dog and a teenager amount of dirty laundry.
Please make no mistake, as a mother trying to help my children learn through a pandemic, I’m an idiot and can’t teach them anything, but I can online shop. I transformed the loft and I set up quite the beautiful school area. It had wonderful lighting and it was comfortable, with productive desks and chairs. I tried to give both her and her brother, who was enrolled in some CLC college courses, an environment where they could concentrate when they needed it, and then walk away when they were done.
I’m pretty sure they used it for about a week and a half. And I didn’t push them because this wasn’t about me doing all that work and me getting upset because they didn’t use it. (Truth: It gave me something else to do during the pandemic besides putting booze in my coffee and overeating. ) Nay, nay: It was about them being comfortable when everything around them made no sense.
Her freshman year in high school should’ve been filled with nervous giggles, experimenting with outfits every morning, walking to classes with new friends, sneaking out to get ice cream on her lunch break, walking in the halls and blushing when she passed somebody she had a crush on, laughing with her friends in the locker room about how much swimming class sucks with their period, going to a pep rally…going to a football game….going to Homecoming, going anywhere…with anyone…
Our walls are thin in our cookie cutter home. Her bedroom is next to mine. I know the sound of fear, frustration, angst, anxiety and sadness. Her teachers voices came out of her laptop sounding legit Charlie Brown. I heard late-night heated and passionate conversations, but couldn’t make out the words. Those emotion-filled moments made my tears run all the way down to my pillow.
But, there where lovely noises. She taught herself some pretty bitchin’ guitar playing. Her lovely voice, soft and lilting, wafted into the hallway. The strumming was comforting, the sounds of her trying to figure out the Bohemian Rhapsody solo, endless Fleetwood Mac. She had the lonely time to do that. l will cherish those sanguine sounds that seeped through my bedroom wall.
Another sound that didn’t make me feel sad to accidentally overhear: the laughter with her friends. They found a way to make the “pandemic sleepover” work; messy but still with laughter and love.
What one wouldn’t also post on social media is that she battled two significant and private medical issues that most don’t know about, and one very significant dental issue that meant literally 30 doctor and specialized dentist appointments in a year. In one year. In a pandemic.
Could she cry to her friends at the table in the lunch room, where she could get hugs and whispers of support? No. But she could talk to their faces on her small phone screen and at least feel some love, however she could get it. Funny…it’s the one time as a mother I have been grateful for my children’s social media.
Life has gotten slowly back to “normal”. She eventually went back to school, picked out cute outfits, walked the halls, snuck off to The Jewel with friends on her lunch break, met her teachers face-to-face for the first time, played an actual high school lacrosse game, even laughed on a bus with her teammates…normal things started happening again. I think the kid is finally able to realize that she is going to be okay.
My life purpose is to love and protect my family; keep them alive for a life that is worth living. I have two other great kids who are creating their own life journey tapestries, but I celebrate this moment for the little one who won an epic battle this year in her bedroom. Shine on, little diamond.