It’s a normal transition day. I get off work early, pick up Carter from school (whomever decided that kids need to get out of school at 2:30 pm on a Monday of all days is crazy….crazy), and ask him how his week was with his mother. He gives the standard response, “played video games and spent the night at everyone else’s house.” It used to get us riled up that all he appears to be capable of doing at his mother’s is eating Cheetos, playing video games, and spending the night at all of her friends’ houses instead of having some stability at home. But now we have come to know this as the norm and we choose our battles wisely. I politely reply “Oh that’s nice. I bet you had fun.”
We begin our drive for Henry’s pre-school and on the way, Carter keeps saying things like “Mom isn’t available” and “Mom can’t talk to us all week.” I ignore it the first few times, but it’s apparent he wants me to say “but why Carter?” (in an emotional and concerned voice), so I cave and say it. He replies, “Mom went on a find me mission.” I ponder the words for a few seconds to evaluate them and think out a response that doesn’t sound condescending. Nope, doesn’t work. “What the heck do you mean find me mission?!” Carter replies, “she told me she is lost and going to the wilderness to find herself.” I begin racking my brain trying to think of a polite way to respond, but I can’t get there. Instead, I choose to ask questions to have the full picture before explaining to the kids what is healthy and what should be kept to oneself vs. telling very young children. “So Carter, what wilderness is she going to? A cabin in the woods with friends since we are getting four feet of snow tonight?” I am one of those people that knows the answer before I ask the question. It’s like a quiz to see if you will tell the truth, to see if I am right (super competitive), and just because it’s fun. But I am terribly wrong on this. His reply: “no, she left for Canada this morning to the woods all by herself.” I pause and think. I know that she acts crazy on occasion, but this may take the cake. We have a high of six degrees over the next five days, there is four feet of snow, she is going to another country (kinda), with only her SUV and the clothes she packed, with no cell service, and she left Trevor and I to try to explain this rationally to the kids?! Thanks.
We pull up to Henry’s pre-school and I tell Carter to wait in the truck. I walk in, get Henry, and strap him into his booster seat. Off we go home. I decide not to call Trevor to tell him what is going on until we are home and I am in a quiet place. I know what his reaction will be when I tell him. “What the f*** does that mean? Does Carter think that is normal? How to hell do I explain that it is not normal?” We arrive home, I get snacks for the boys and turn on cartoons while I retreat to the bedroom to call Trevor. His reaction is almost word-for-word as I had predicted. I tell him that she will be without cell service all week, but will try to call if she has time. He laughs and says ok.
The week goes on and as the snow piles up and the temperature drops, we begin to wonder if she is capable of finding shelter, staying warm, and if she packed enough food. Thursday rolls around and Carters Gizmo rings….it is his mom! She is alive! We ask the kids to go to Henry’s room to talk to her so it is more private and they have a chance to engage with her vs. watching TV. Five minutes later, Carter comes out to tell us “Mom couldn’t find herself so she moved on to Calgary and is going to stay three more days to look for herself.” I wish there was a camera capturing Trevor’s and my reaction. We say “Ok, good. We hope she has luck.”
There was a small part of us that was grateful that she is in a city with food and shelter and another part of us that was mad that she can’t pay for things for the kids, forcing us to pay more, but she can go on a “find me mission” and spend money on gas, hotels, food, alcohol, and shopping. Again, something we can’t control so we move on.
On Monday, Carter walked home to find his mom. She was safe and sound…..errrrrr…..safe, just safe. We are not really sure what she found, but it wasn’t a different form of herself based on the text messages, lack of responsibility, and typical behavior she had displayed, but we take what we can get.