The waiting place

(With apologies to Dr Seuss…)

I am currently in the Waiting Place and there’s nothing to do here except…wait.

I’m not very good at just patiently waiting, even though I’ve been working hard on trying to become more patient in general.

One of the things I’m waiting on is whether or not my son will continue with college right now. He says he doesn’t know if he wants to drop out or not.

I tried advising him several different ways. I encouraged him to try to stick it out and gave him some strategies to do so.

I also told him that this isn’t a life-or-death kind of decision. I reminded him that even if he decides to drop out now, it doesn’t mean he can’t ever go back. Whether he takes a semester off or a couple of years, the rest of his entire life isn’t hinging on what he does now.

I admit that I would love to have him back home. But I also take a lot of pride in the fact that he’s a student at this university. I am conflicted in part because he’s conflicted. If he were committed to staying there, I would just keep cheering him on and taking pride in being an “Aggie Mom” (his school team is the Aggies.) I’d still feel kinda sad and lost because of his absence but I’d learn to deal with it.

I guess in a way that’s a lie, though. I think that it did feel like he left too soon, which is probably only because Amy didn’t move out until she was 23 and Chloe is still here, possibly for the long haul. He is feeling a lot like he left too soon, too.

That’s another way in which I’m in the waiting place, though: gradually coming to see my time in this country as inevitably finite. I am both excited and terrified of the thought of going somewhere else.

I’m still in the early planning stages, so I’m not sure yet where I’ll end up. I was thinking of Puerto Vallarta but the climate there is probably not what I want. It doesn’t ever get cold, which is good, but the humidity levels are even worse than Houston (much worse, actually) and I absolutely hated the humidity in Houston.

So now I’m looking at San Miguel de Allende, which is also cheap and safe but has a more moderate climate.

I wish that J could go with me. Who knows? Maybe he can. If he lives long enough and we save enough, maybe it could happen. But I also realize that it probably won’t, which makes me very sad.

In a way, I feel like in his death, he’s making sure I’ll have a better life—which is his greatest concern—by enabling me to leave the country. I just don’t see any future scenarios in which it would still be good to stay here (unless like I got remarried to someone with a buttload of money, which is very highly unlikely.)

The one good thing about that is that it’s already decreasing my desire to shop because I know I wouldn’t be able to take most stuff with me. It’s funny how effectively that curbs my shopping desire and hopefully I can find my way back to a more minimalist lifestyle again.

Another bit of good news is that Chloe really wants to go with me. We talked a lot at dinner yesterday about how the US is really the only culture that puts such an emphasis on independence, often to our own detriment.

We talked about how everyone is essentially on their own here, maintaining separate households, even when it would be so much better to combine them. If she ever adopts kids, I could take care of them, rather than her having to pay thousands of dollars a month for child care from a stranger.

She also said that as I get older, she can take care of me (which was an enormous relief to hear, since I won’t have J and the future of my health is so unknown.)

She said that the multi-generational approach to living that is common in almost every other country than here just makes a lot of sense (assuming you don’t have a really toxic family.) And honestly, I agree. I’m still salty about the fact that my parents wouldn’t even watch the kids for a couple hours a week so I could go to school or work.

I guess this is the payoff for the way I’ve raised my kids with a “family first” ideology. They aren’t ready to be completely independent at 18–but I dare say that most kids aren’t (or at least certainly not these days.)

But because I’m committed to trying to understand them and working on eliminating my more toxic traits, they don’t see it as horrible to be around me or as necessary to be on their own.

It’s a different way of life from most Americans, to be sure, but I’m really happy that at least one of my kids wants to go with me. And even in the off chance that I don’t ever end up moving, there’s still this idea of shared responsibility to one another, which really makes me feel like I’ve done some things right as a parent.

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