Waking the Walker

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

Tag: writing

At a Crossroads Without a Compass


In 1995, at the age of 34, I walked out of a dead-end marriage. I was beyond stressed, not just about my marriage, but work too.

Anyone who has ever worked in advertising or marketing can relate to the ridiculous levels of stress one can experience in this world. In the beginning it was exciting, but one can only take all that BS for so long, and I had been at for 15 years.

I felt trapped at work and home. I felt like there was no way out.

Dead End Sign Maze No Way Out Danger Warning 3d Illustration

It was a co-worker who encouraged me to just set a date, and leave my husband. At first I thought the idea was nuts.

How do you just do that?

The worse things got though, the more it made sense. 

I knew I could only tackle one life-sucking situation at a time. Leaving my husband was a lot easier than figuring out what to do about my job, especially because the stress of the two made me brain-dead.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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 Consequences of a Bad Decision


As a writer (yet-to-be published, produced, or paid) discussing the storyline of a TV show, movie or book is one of my favorite things to do. I love to hear writers, directors, producers, and actors talk about their craft, about bringing characters to life and the path those characters take or could take along the way.

Turns out my son has inherited this gene and although for many years has fought the writing thing, I found out recently that he now considers English not only a favorite subject, but one of his better ones, plus, lists writing as a top skill. You can only imagine what joy this brought to me when I heard those words.

Writer

My son’s imagination is like no other I have come across. His ideas go far and wide and I have always told him to write them down because one day his mind will be cluttered with so much real world crap he may forget these brilliant sparks of creativity. He has yet to do this with all of his ideas, but he has over the years kept a file on game ideas, which all evolve from a storyline, so he’s got that much going for himself.

Needless to say, him and I can get into some serious discussions about story lines and characters, especially when it comes to “The Walking Dead.” Since he has read the graphic novels the show is based on, he often gets very excited when things play out according to the book or when a new character from the book is introduced. I saw a lot this over the past season, especially the closer we got to the season finale.

Whether you have read the books or not, if you are an avid fan of the show, you are aware of the notorious barbwire wrapped bat wielding villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Moragn) (evil personified) and the anticipation of his arrival on the show was making book readers in particular salivate.

I myself was dreading it because along with his arrival brings the departure of a beloved character in an extremely brutal way. The key question was whether the writers of the show would stay true to the book or deviate, which is often the case. And, how on earth would they show this horrific scene (barbwire covered bat connects to victims head multiple times) on regular TV?

Lucille

My son and I had many speculative discussions leading up to the season finale, each with our own ideas about where the writers may take the story. My son believing they will stay true to the books, and me feeling stronger that they would switch things up. Turns out they ended the show on a cliffhanger, so we will have to wait till Season Seven to see who became Negan’s first victim, but, we both feel that the cliffhanger did not detract from the brilliant story telling in this finale. (Note, we are in the minority here.) Read the rest of this entry »

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