After Baby Kitty but before Winky, a great aberration came into my life. Ok, it was a dog. We got Elby from the pound when he was only 8 weeks old. That dog was one of the cutest puppies I have ever seen. This should have been my first warning.

It was unusual in the first place that I decided I wanted a dog. Not that I don’t love dogs, I do love them. I just hadn’t wanted the trouble of a dog. I had five kids and a perpetually messy house, why would I want to add to my exhaustion? This should have been my second warning.

I realize now that the reason I all of a sudden wanted a dog was that I was suffering from something akin to post traumatic stress disorder. My mind plays tricks on me. I can’t deal with rejection but I sometimes see ordinary events as rejection so I get knocked down more than the average ordinary person. Darin says there’s no such thing as an average ordinary person.

My oldest daughter finally decided to move out when she was 25 or 26. No, I can’t remember exactly which it was. I get fuzzy on details like that. I remember the feelings more clearly. I probably should have been happy, for her, for me. I was devastated. Heather and I had started moving toward a reconciliation in our relationship – at least that’s what I thought it was – and right in the middle of it she abruptly announced she was moving out and then she did.

It feels like my words get sticky like flypaper here, they stick in my craw (or my wrists in this instance since I am typing them). The room temperature seems to go up five degrees. I start thinking of all the other things I need to do right this minute, like check my email or make a list of the rings I need to make today. I read over what I’ve written so far and I think I should just chuck it all and I think right now that maybe that is a defense mechanism because maybe it still hurts a whole heck of a lot to think so deeply about what happened. And maybe I’m a little ashamed of how deeply I can be hurt over something that really is an ordinary event.

So I’ll keep going.

Heather and I kind of lost touch during her teenage years. I mentioned before that if you don’t keep the connection going with your teenager when they start to make that normal and natural separation, you might look up one day and realize there’s no longer just a gap, there’s a gulch between you and no bridge. That’s what happened with me and Heather. It wasn’t her fault at all. I no longer hold it against myself but it was my fault because I didn’t know about my rejection issues and I didn’t know how to parent a teenager. That whole joke about not having a manual, it’s dark humor.

By the time she’d made it through her teen years, we didn’t touch at all. That’s right, we never touched. Hugged. No. Don’t get to this place with your child. I know there are some other people out there with this problem. I don’t lie to myself anymore by thinking that I am alone in my issues past and present. So one of you needs to know, if you and your teen don’t touch, start touching. Even if they pull away. Especially if they pull away. If they pull away you reach out and pull them right back into your arms and give them a hug and rub their shoulders and kiss them all over their face before you let them go.

I’m leaving this little story before it is done, but I want you to know that things are much better now. I am no longer standing with my toes hanging over the edge of a vast gulch. Things are much better.

The great aberration… Elby…. more about all that later.

Written by Tina Gasperson

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