The safety net

I am so thankful for my daughter in particular. All three of my kids are very special and important to me and each makes their own valuable contribution to my life, just in being who they are. But I had a long chat last night with my daughter and her boyfriend (who has been living with us since August due to the pandemic) and it made me feel much better.

My daughter and her boyfriend have been dating for nearly two years now. And she said that something she told him very early on in their relationship was about my husband’s cancer and the fact that she would want to make sure the rest of us were able to survive if and when my husband passes.

At first, that was just a commitment to keep my youngest at the same school until high school graduation. Now that that’s on the horizon, her goalpost has shifted. She says that she wants to give them until she is 30 (seven years away), more or less, to establish themselves and to give them a home base.

This of course relies heavily on her boyfriend, who makes pretty good money (last I knew, he earned about the same as my husband does now) and said that he’s getting a very substantial raise soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if the raise will push him above six figures, with the way he was talking about it.

I am so happy for her that she has found someone who loves her enough to agree to support her siblings (and me, by extension, as she said we could combine expenses proportionately.) I know that her boyfriend also cares a lot about my husband, as he’s bought little gifts for him just because he thought he would like them.

I know what it’s like to have that kind of love that shows such sacrificial devotion to you because that’s what J has been for me. And like me, my daughter has some significant mental health struggles that interfere with her ability to work.

I just hope she knows how good she has it and appreciates how rare it is to be loved so well.

They’re looking at pharmacy vaccination sites elsewhere in the state and thinking of taking her brothers for a road trip so they can all get the Covid vaccine (which seems especially urgent now that our asshat governor decided there’s no more mask mandate as of next week.)

That brings me to my second point of worry that has somewhat been resolved: my middle son. I’ve long been very critical of the fact that the online moms I know seem to hide their kids’ mental health issues. And just yesterday, I was devastated to learn that one of the online moms I’ve known for 20 years lost her 18-year-old son. She didn’t list the cause, so I am assuming he died by suicide.

I’ve had similar worries about my middle son. He has really struggled to find his way since graduating high school and seems to give up in defeat when his plans hit road blocks.

He just started on antidepressants and it’s the same medication that my daughter, her boyfriend, and I all take. I am really hoping that it will help him.

I’ve recently had some more in-depth, real talks with him about mental health in particular and I feel reassured that he’s in a relatively good place. He said that his mental state was actually on a mild upswing before starting the antidepressant and he’s just hoping to make things better.

Still, the pandemic is increasing his anxiety about looking for work, especially now that the governor is dropping the mask mandate. And my daughter told me something reassuring about that, too: she said that even if it takes him a couple years to feel ready to get his life together, she doesn’t feel she can judge him because she needed the same.

I can’t tell you what a weight it took off my shoulders to know that I’m not suddenly going to be solely financially responsible for keeping the rest of the family afloat financially if my husband’s gone. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that for a while yet.

I’m also immensely relieved that she is allowing my middle son the time he needs to get himself sorted out. I know that will put a lot less pressure on him.

I may never know why she feels such a responsibility to the rest of the family and why my middle son does not. I am just grateful that she (and her boyfriend) will likely have my back as I try to rebuild after by far the shittiest event of my life. I am so grateful. Like she told me last night when we concluded our conversation, the unconditional love goes both ways.

I never wanted things to work out this way. I wanted to be the strong rescuer who rose to the occasion. And who knows? Maybe I still can be. But it’s such a relief knowing that I don’t have to be.

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