Back but strangely quiet

Those of you who have raised 11 year old boys are familiar with the "I dunno" syndrome. I’m dangerously close to being 55 and I’m not male but I find myself afflicted. What’s up with me? I dunno. What’s new? I dunno. For 3 days I’ve been saying, "Hey! Me! Snap out out of it! Are me depressed? Confused? What can me do to help?!?"
"I dunno."

Which is odd, since what’s new is my daughter has gone and gotten herselfAbbyusf launched. Out into the world. Her trajectory course is high and straight and she’s sailing away. So here’s the bare bones report and at some point I’ll try and figure out how I’m feeling but right now, I just dunno.

I arrived at midnight and there she was at the curb in her 13 year old Miata convertible (with 204,000 miles), smiling like a moonbeam. (Insert some feeling stuff here.)

Here is her little pool house apartment. PlaceHere is her little kitchen. This is the child
that we have all been taking to task these past few years for her slovenly habits and copious sticky culinary accidents.Kit

She had clean sheets on the trundle bed for me and a fresh towel in the tiny bath. She showed me the inside of her closet where every single thing was straight on a hanger and the inside of her cupboards (where I was appalled to discover two boxes of Quaker Instant Grits. Grits, for heaven’s sake.) On her bed was the blanket I knit her and "Belly Button Bear".  This 19 year old little floppy bear still has the pink button sewed on to simulate Abby’s very pronounced umbilical hernia that didn’t fully disappear until she was six. Whatever.

She got up to an early alarm and headed off on her bike to class. And then we met up for lunch and she went back to her Thursday classes and then we met up for dinner. And then she studied and I read. On Friday and Saturday we did some other stuff like go shopping, get massages, check out the Bay and Gulf, buy fresh food at the Saturday Market and, uh, wander around and, uh, I dunno.

Her cell phone had dried out enough to receive calls by Friday (remember, she put it through the washing machine when she was busy getting tidied up for mama’s visit) and by Saturday it was fully recovered and she could make calls. Abby has never been one to linger on the phone for more than the minute it takes to handle logistics but it was clear that she has many new friends, places to go and people to meet. She introduced me to her closest friend and we all went out to lunch.

Those of you who have come by often remember that Abby, who could have quite literally gone to any University she wanted, never filled out applications, stayed in town an extra year after high school, signed up for ancient Greek at a nice little local Lutheran college and aced that, but basically, she was aimless for a year. So while all her high powered friends were racing headlong off to Brown and Harvard, Abby was doing that little horse dance, turning in circles, rearing up and standing like a dolt in the starting gate. That was an infuriating conundrum to those of us who are close to her but there was nothing to be done about it. The only response we could get from her was, "I dunno."

"What do you want to do?" "Dunno."
"Well, where would you like to go to school?" "Dunno."
"Abby! How do you plan to support yourself?!?" "Uh, I dunno."

She didn’t literally do nothing for a year- she worked hard at several crummy jobs to pay for her basic needs and she did some incredible diving in Costa Rica- but, by and large, I have no idea what was going on with her.

This year she is in the Honors College and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. She is taking classes like Acquisition of Knowledge and AC Calc 2 and Rain Forest Ecology. She was working on a paper offering up proofs on both sides of the argument as to whether something exists. I looked at the assignment and it suggested a thing like a chair or a bed. Abby wanted to do it on "song" so one evening I was there she and her professor were rapidly e-mailing back and forth discussing the various layers of complication she was adding to her argument and how that could work out for her. She was having a discussion with a teacher. A teacher was actually responding quickly with thoughts and questions and encouragement. What did I think of this? I just dunno.Study
What else? Let’s see…hmmm…ah! You think I’ve been missing in action but that’s just because I haven’t had much to say. I tasted Bonnie’s fish and chips, copied down Angie’s biscuit recipe, thought about Jen’s feelings of being self-employed. I always look at Roxanne’s pictures. I took Sp00k’s beautiful compilation of my photos and put it up as my banner- thank you, Amy! I usually go see Arethusa but right now she reminds me of someone so, I dunno, I haven’t been by there for the past four or five. I always visit Hoss but the last few days just felt lost in the crowd over there.
Here, Hoss (in lieu of comments this past week):

A Polish immigrant goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for a driver’s license and is advised that he has to take an Eye Test.
The optician shows him a card with the letters:

       C  Z  W  I  X  N  O  S  T  A  C  Z

"Can you read this?" the optician asks. "Read it?" the Polish man replies, "I know that guy."

Amy asks what’s up with my son. Dan wants me to minimize his exposure here but I’ve pointed out to him that this is my place and I can do what I want with it, within respectful limits. That being said, he’s doing great. He’s playing and composing and studying and running. He and Jill were around over the weekend and Jill practiced her cello here, much to my delight. He did a 20 mile run on Saturday; Jill ran 10. He is doing a full marathon and Jill the half in about 10 days. Ask me how I feel about the fact that he has trained himself in fairly short order to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon after I’ve spent his entire life worrying about his congenital heart defect? All together now! "I dunno."
I’m thinking if I come by and see what’s shakin’ at your place I might get jump started over here. Especially if there’s lust and passion between Jim and Lu and maybe Mamacita is off on a rant…

19 responses to “Back but strangely quiet

  1. Doctor Bonnie is in! My analysis follows. You are either:

    1) Proud to bursting at the well-deserved successes of your incredible daughter
    2) So filled with gratitude for both of your children’s many blessings that your tongue is rendered tied
    3) Mellowed to silence by Jill’s lush, warm cello tones
    4) Ashamed down to your sorry Lutheran core that you haven’t asked my forgiveness for offering to cheer the SPARTANS on during a BYE
    5) Weary of the (dare I say it, Hoss?) b**g
    6) In need of the French phrase – “Comme ci, comme ca” Everything sounds better en francais, oui?

    Feel better now? I charge by a sliding scale and also accept tomato sauce, jam, alternative jazz cds, Boarshead Festival videos from nice little local Lutheran colleges, and cute knitted hats in lieu of filthy lucre. Also, why is your writing superior even when you dunno what to say?!


  2. P.S. This green is just right!!

  3. Like Bonnie I think there may be several possibilities:
    1. Abby launched in slow motion last year but now up to speed she is great. As moms our heads know this is great and our heads know we are proud and our heads know this is what we have worked so hard for, for so many years but somehow our hearts haven’t caught up with our heads and that little pang goes off and says “She doesn’t really need me the same way any more”. So it takes time to adjust to this. Note: I said “in the same way”; daughters always need their mothers it just changes. For us this is the beginning of becoming friends with our daughters as well as staying their mothers. It is an awkward time for mom and probably daughter too. It will be ok.
    2. It sounds like there may be some other change in your life as well. Perhaps seeing your son and daughter now on their chosen paths and no longer saying “I dunno” makes your path seem less certain. I certainly know how you feel. Nyssa is on her path, I am not. Roles reversed. Now she asks “Are you ever going to go back to Pathology?” and I say “I dunno.” It is very uncomfortable to say and admit.
    3. Or maybe Bonnie has it right, it has something to do with the football team. Oklahoma simply stinks this year so time to write football off for a while.
    We had a “daughters leaving the nest help group”, maybe we need a “mothers regrouping group.”

  4. I can’t say anything better than the first 2 people did – so I will just say welcome back and come to see me sometime. There’s no passion here, but a cute cartoon for your chuckling pleasure.

  5. No analysis here, just an awed WOW at your wonderful kids!

  6. No analysis here, just an awed WOW at your wonderful kids!

  7. Heyyy, I’ve been in the dunno zone. Its hard to get out but when you do, and you will, you’ll have all the answers from before. That didnt make any sense but its true.

    You’re welcome, by the way!

    Abby is so pretty. I think she was smart to hang around until she figured out what to do with life. And think how much money you saved by not sending her somewhere she wasnt sure she wanted to be.

    I think your kids are too cool. Abby is going to be so amazing in whatever field she ends up in, and Dan is going to a famous composer, I know it.

  8. It’s eerie isn’t it? Hey, I come here all the time so reading my comments is like a “mini-visit”, yes? We’ll make it count.

    (My kitchen isn’t quite that tidy though. Or my bed…or my closet…)

    I’m glad your back, Vicki.

  9. Hey! Since you don’t tell jokes on your site you were supposed to give that to me. I am Mr. Surfs-a-lot, King of Internet Theft.

    I love your stories about your kids. Superman and Wonder Woman. Only Abby is prettier than Lynda Carter. Way smarter, too.

  10. Bonnie- I believe you and Roxanne nailed it. It’s #2 with a fair amount of, wait! don’t leave me! mixed in. It’s true that I’m tongue tied at my blessings and simultaneously unsettled in my own life and transition into a new phase. Oregon has upped their offer along with my anxiety. Juanita’s baby will arrive soon so that will satify some snuffle-up needs. Yes, A, it is eerie. You and my girl. Hmmm. Hoss- I have another one- racier- I’ll email you. 🙂
    Kenju and Goldie and Amy- I’m always so glad to see you! Thank you. I’ll be by shortly!

  11. Vicki, I’ve missed you! But I’m so glad to hear all your news. Abby is amazing, and so is Dan. Bonnie’s analysis is spot-on, and srp is right, we need a new focus for the therapy group. Oh, and Angie is not going to be happy about the grits comment 🙂

  12. Welcome home! I am so happy you are back and had a wonderful time with Abby. I am sorry you are in the “I dunno” mood. How about if I make you a cup of tea and you sit with Mary and I and have some pie? (I am ignoring the grit thing because obviously Abby is brillant and has excellent tastes.)

  13. Oh man, there is so much going on, isn’t there? So much change over which you don’t have much control. I understand. Hope to see you soon. Roberta

  14. It is amazing to watch children grow up, and this stage is the most amazing one of all.

    I like the new look!

  15. It is amazing to watch children grow up, and this stage is the most amazing one of all.

    I like the new look!

  16. Both of your children sound amazing. They seem confident, unafraid and curious. What a combination. I’m happy for them and for you. Its just hard to relax the mommy-mones though, at least for me.

  17. I am in the same frame of mind as you, Vicki. Your photos are fabulous and your stories of Abby remind me so much of our Ashley. (there are differences, but the similarities are startling) Our mood could relate to the season, the weather, our age, our hormones, etc… as Bonnie pointed out in French, there are many ways to indicate that life is so-so, not bad, or even Bof (a neat word that is a bit to the negative of so so) We have the right to feel vaguely dissatisfied and down; it is normal!

  18. I think any time something we have put a lot of energy into no longer requires the same attention, we feel an emptiness, we feel the hole instead of the whole. Now if we have a distraction that grab our attention long enough, we might be able to get away with not feeling the hole. But I think we’re supposed to feel the contrast of that gap. Its what keeps us rooted to each other. And Yes, those kids are well off into their own lives where you THINK you don’t have as much of a place. But, in the scheme of things that is only temporary. We all have such a much bigger place in each others lives than we can ever begin to imagine I think. Feel your Dunno’s, they are the bitter herb right now, which by its very contrast helps you taste all the other flavors.

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