Ace is home.
For the past eleven days, Ace has been on a trip with his grandma. Grandma likes to travel, and she decided that once Ace turned 13, he was old enough for an adventure just with her.
They flew to Colorado (thankfully avoiding all areas of wildfire) and stayed with my aunt near Estes Park and my cousin in Loveland. My cousin has triplets who are all Ace’s age, so it was basically a week of things 13-year-olds love. Ace did not want to leave.
Then they flew to Oklahoma to visit my sister where Ace watched MMA fights, went to a cowboy museum and Pop’s Soda Shop. He also got to wear his uncle’s flight mask. Apparently, he wore it around the house for 4 hours because you never know when the living room might lose cabin pressure. Ace did not want to take off the mask, nor did he want to leave.
The trip was a wonderful, memory building thing for my mom to do with him. I know he’ll never forget it.
I missed him greatly while he was gone, but it was an important break for me.
For eleven days, I didn’t have to worry about him.
The past few years have often felt like a long, fearful slog through situations I never imagined and have often felt I can barely handle. I spent almost every school day of the past two years sending Ace off to school with knots in my stomach. Would he be okay today? (Usually, no.) Would he get hurt? (Often, yes.) I would jump when the phone rang during school hours. If I saw the school number on the call screen, my heart would immediately start to race. It wasn’t going to be good. It never was good.
This has all improved since we switched his school, but the vestiges are still there. And Ace still careens through life – crashing off of everything, leaving shattered pieces in piles on the floor and bruises across his body. I often feel like a triage nurse – assessing injuries, winding bandages, stabilizing situations.
He’s been away before. Two years ago, he went to sleep-away camp for one week and had a wonderful time. I worried for the entire week because it was the longest he had been away from home in someone else’s care and camp seemed like a potentially volatile social situation for an impulsive, emotional kid. It turns out I didn’t need to worry that year. Ace did great and loved camp so much that, last summer, we sent him to the same camp for two weeks. I didn’t start worrying until I started getting calls from the camp after less than a week. I ended up having to pick Ace up early because his counselors took a dislike to him. They told the entire cabin that he had ADHD and was on medication, so Ace got harassed by the other kids. The counselors didn’t intervene to help Ace. In fact, they told him to his face how much they wished he wasn’t there. Several nights the counselors banished Ace to the porch outside the cabin where he had to sit by himself in the dark. I am still instantly filled with rage when I think about it, and if I ever run into those counselors on the street, they are going to want to run far and fast. It was hardly a worry-free time.
This trip was different though. Ace was with his grandmother. She knows, loves, and understands him. He was with our family, who know, love, and understand him. I knew he would be okay. My mom would take care of him, so I didn’t have to worry.
And I didn’t. I didn’t worry at all. I only spoke on the phone with him a few times. We exchanged a few sporadic texts. But mostly, he went on his adventure, and I let him – without any worry.
It was a tremendous gift – both for him and for me. It’s hard to measure the weight of something you carry until you set it down. Constant vigilance is heavy. I didn’t realize how heavy until I was able to set it down for awhile.
Ace came home today. I missed him terribly. While it was a relief not to worry for a short time, part of my heart was in Colorado and Oklahoma, probably in the pocket of those brightly colored, skinny jeans he likes to wear.
I’m glad to have my heart back. And my boy.
He’s worth the worry. He is mine to care for, to guide and to worry about. Always.