Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: mother and son

Home for Dinner


With the extremely busy schedules most families have today, sitting down to dinner, as a family is becoming a thing of the past. It’s actually more of a luxury when it happens. For many, dinner is grabbing fast food on the fly between practices, games, school events and lessons of some sort.

Growing up, my mother made sure there was a home-cooked meal every night, and we all sat down to eat dinner together as a family. Granted, this was in the sixties and seventies and we did not have the insane schedules most families have today, but my Mom was a single Mom who worked full-time.

88670557 - mom and daughter cooking together. home help, upbringing. vector

That in itself was somewhat rare for that time period, but my father passed away when I was three, and with five additional siblings, ranging in age from 18 month to early 20’s, my Mom had no other option but to get back into the work force. Thank goodness she had a nursing degree to fall back on.

So, for me, a single Mom who works full-time and cooks dinner every night was the norm. This is why I believe I am hardwired to be that way. Eating out, even fast food is and was a treat, not a common thing.

Even during our hectic marching band season through out my Son’s high school years, I would juggle my work schedule so I could be home on a Friday with enough time to heat up leftovers so my Son and I could eat together before we went to the stadium. I would calculate what I would cook earlier in the week so there would be enough for Friday night. Sometimes I’d supplement with some frozen food, but the bulk was home-cooked warm-ups.

Having that time together, no matter how brief, was and still is important to me.

Home for Dinner

My Son and I may be going in a million directions all day, but come dinnertime, we put everything on pause. We don’t answer the phone unless we know it’s important. Eating dinner together is a way to play catch-up after a day apart. 

As my Son has grown, and become more vocal about life in general, this has become the best part of my day. That’s why I get upset when he drags his feet coming to the dinner table because he’s caught up on something on his computer. Mostly gaming, which can infuriate me even more, but as long as we have time together at the end of the day, I let it slide, sort of.

Now that he’s working, I truly appreciate the nights he will be home for dinner. He has no regular schedule, so when he gets a day shift or a night off, I’m thrilled.

Even if I am still putting up with the feet dragging and late arrival for dinner, he’s home for dinner with Mom, something that will be a rarity when he heads off to college in August.

Being so programmed to pre-plan meals to work around my Son’s schedule, I’m quite sure I’ll feel lost the first couple months when I only need to worry about me.

It’s already evident the nights he works. Only having to plan a meal for me isn’t quite the same.

I am however using these nights as a means to mentally and emotionally prepare for dinner for one.

12959512 - 3d render of cartoon character in restaurant

There are many things I will have to adjust to when my Son is away at college, but eating alone will be one of the toughest adjustments.

Dinner has always been our time together. Not having him across the table from me will be a constant reminder that I am now an empty nester.

Granted, I can try to look at the positives that come with my son away at college. Like my food bills will be drastically less, and if I don’t want to cook, I won’t have to, but right now those things aren’t enough to balance the scales.

With time though, I know I will adjust, but I also know I will be looking forward to every visit home my Son will get, just knowing that he will be home for dinner will bring me great joy.

72768083 - woman preparing food in the kitchen

 

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2018. All rights reserved.

Old Days – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_dinkoobraz’>dinkoobraz / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Home for Dinner – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_iconicbestiary’>iconicbestiary / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Dinner for One – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_3drenderings’>3drenderings / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Happy Mom – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_graphicbee’>graphicbee / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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WTW Is Coming Full Circle


If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you know oh to well the show returns February 25th. And with it’s return, the undoubted departure of a well-loved character.

TWD Masthead

Spoiler Alert –

If you are not caught up with TWD, please do not read any further.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Year of Lasts


With band uniform fittings the beginning of this month, I realized my Son and I are officially starting “The Year of Lasts.”

In September my Son starts his Senior Year in high school, so all the things that are once a year in high school, will never be done again. They will be the last time he and/or I do them.

Just as this was my Son’s last high school uniform fitting, it will also be his last high school marching band camp at the end of the month, which ushers in his last high school marching band season.

First Game Senior Year

I stress high school, because there is a possibility my Son will be marching in college. One school he is applying to has a marching band. This would mean Saturday road trips for Mom, but I’m OK with that because I would get to see my Son.

To be honest, I’m not sure either one of us is totally ready for this, but the reality of it is sinking in fast, especially with college applications being submitted this month and his Senior pictures behind us.

I actually got teary eyed the day of his Senior pictures just thinking about it. School photos are a rite of passage and when the final one comes you are met with an avalanche of emotions.

Excited for the future, but sad because it means everything will change. Change in a good way, but all change is met with some apprehension.

Next year at this time it will be about packing my Son up for college.

How did we get here? Where have all the years gone?

Last school year we were so consumed about making it through Junior Year and starting the college preparatory process that the notion of Senior Year was just a fleeting thought.

That thought is no longer fleeting. It is staring us down and forcing us to “wake up” and realize that we need to truly appreciate this “year of lasts” because we will never experience them again and can never get them back.

Junior Year was about surviving; Senior Year will be about appreciating and savoring every little detail that comes into play with the “lasts.”

It’s about living in the moment, which is not always that easy with the pace and pressures of today. This is something I know I need to learn to do better, not just for this year, but in general.

August Calendar

As I sat in the mandatory parent band meeting the first day of band camp, I didn’t drift off because I was a veteran parent, I listened and remembered what it felt like my Son’s Freshman year.

There were so many questions, so many fears. Would my Son actually survive band camp and stick with it? What is expected of me as a band Mom?

We found out the answers to these questions quickly and slowly fell into place with the rest of the veterans.

Now I’m a member of the music booster executive board and knee deep into everything band. Some days I ask myself why, but to be honest, just as the band has given my Son a safe-haven in high school and second family, so have the boosters for me.

I know I have made friends who have been and will be there for me even when our kids have graduated and are grown.

So, although this will be a “year of lasts,” I will cherish every moment, even the challenging ones, and store them for when my Son is away at college and I’m missing him.

The “lasts” won’t just apply to high school events though. They will also apply to this blog.

I started “Waking the Walker” in 2014 when my Son was finishing up middle school and transitioning into high school. It was a means to work through the trials and tribulations of raising a “zombie,” I mean teen.

WTW_TShirt_Final

 

Granted, there will most definitely be trials and tribulations when my Son goes off to college. They will however, be on a different level than those experienced through high school.

Will there be a new blog reflecting how I deal with these new issues? And how it feels to be in an empty nest? I have no idea yet. Only time will tell.

I do know though, that with each passing month, I found writing this blog quickly became therapy, even during the months when my time was stretched thin. The process of writing became my place of refuge and a means to work through my ever-evolving emotions.

Those ever-evolving emotions will be all over the place this year of “lasts.” Particularly the closer we get to my Son’s high school graduation.

Lord knows what I’ll be like when we get to the end of next Summer and it’s time for my Son to head to college. Mentally I won’t go there yet. I want to enjoy what this year has to bring.

I can guarantee though, this last year of “Waking the Walker” will not so much be about how I’m dealing with my Son’s behavior, but more about how my Son and I are dealing with the emotional roller coaster we will both be experiencing.

It has pretty much been just my Son and I from the very beginning. We have become a team. So, as we experience each “last” through this upcoming school year, the reality that the team will eventually be disbanding, will become ever present.

The good thing though, we have the school year to work through the challenges this reality brings, together. In so doing, we will make the team even stronger, so when we are apart, it won’t feel like it.

So, with “The Year of Lasts” already in motion, and quite a few “lasts” already behind us, the pausing and savoring every detail has begun.

Not just for me, but for my Son. He and his Senior buddies are determined to make this their best year yet. And I will cherish hearing all about it.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2017. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

The Optimistic Realist Wingman


It may be two weeks since my son and I got back from our TWD Summer Road Trip, but we’re both still riding high on the joys of the trip. Hard to believe a 53 year old single Mom and her 14 year old son could travel 860 miles from PA to GA and not want to rip each others throats out like a starving walker. Add to that, driving over 250 miles around GA and then the return trip to PA. Sure we had a few hiccups, but nothing that took away from the pleasure of our adventure. Maybe it’s because we don’t often get to just hang out together. It’s usually all about the day-to-day tasks at hand, especially during the school year. Or, it could be because we were both equally excited about touring the towns where our favorite show “The Walking Dead” has been filmed. More than likely, it’s a combination of the two. Personally, I feel that this trip has become another turning point in my relationship with my son. And a positive one at that, but the proof is in the pudding.100_3413

Most importantly, we did it. After months of talking and preparing (booking hotels, ordering tickets and collecting directions) it seemed like a far off fantasy that would never come to fruition. Add to that the fact that many thought I was crazy to consider driving that far for just a couple days, let alone driving with my teenage son. Not me though. I believed the TWD bond we have was strong enough to over ride any issues that could arise. Plus, I figured the thrill of exploring new territory would keep us both in good spirits. Turns out, I was right about both. When we got back to PA, we looked at each other with a huge glint of satisfaction in our eyes and both said “We did it!” We worked as a team, and accomplished our goals and then some.

I preach about team work all the time, but, the importance of the need for it at home just doesn’t seem to sink in. It was a different story on the trip though, my son found out very quickly how important it is when traveling on the overly crowded highways and byways of the good ol’ USA. Especially in the areas where the speed limit is 70 miles per hour. My unresponsive, not very helpful at times walker became my wingman. And a good one to boot. He helped to keep an eye on traffic when I was merging or passing, and, was the navigator, which he thoroughly enjoyed. In addition, despite having directions, we did need to consult the atlas and maps on my phone in a few instances, which without his help would have meant pulling off the road, which would have added to the already long trip, which neither of us wanted.

Me and my Wingman

Me and my Wingman

He also learned a lot about the responsibilities of driving. Seeing first hand what it’s like to drive at high rates of speed on crowded highways made him realize that you really have to have your wits about you behind the wheel. I do hope this experience pays off when it comes to him learning to drive in two years. We were almost clipped by more than one tractor-trailer during our travels and this really shook him up, me too, but, I already knew the dangers that the overworked and under rested drivers of these metal menaces traveling at high rates of speed can cause. In all honesty, they are the reason I don’t take more road trips. They take the pleasure out of the trip. The close calls did make us both more vigilant when passing these beasts though. My son even put his video game playing aside to be my extra pair of eyes, which, for any of you who have read previous posts know, is a huge feat. Read the rest of this entry »

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