My son has returned home. He got a big hug rather than a fatted calf and it was good to have him with me again, however briefly that might be.
When he left aged 18 to seek work and fortune interstate, it was a wrenching moment, but one that I knew he had to make. Think ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’, or ‘The Journey’ by John Marsden or all those classic stories relating to The Journey that you may have read. It is a time when a young person leaves the safety and security of home to seek the learning and experience that life outside of the home has to offer them. There is the call to adventure, entering the labyrinth, fighting the demons, achieving, reaching an understanding, etc. as described by Joseph Campbell in ‘The Hero’s Journey’.
Young Donald had reached a crossroads in his life. He had realised that his relationship with Daisy was destructive and based on the web of lies that she continually spun. (Donald and Daisy are discussed in earlier posts.) He was played for the sucker. He had dropped out of school and had no prospects, beyond the casual pub job that he had. He was bored at home and I was forever on his back about helping around the house and just doing something.
I was fed up with the piles of dirty dishes around the house and other things just dumped anywhere and had made the decision at work that day that when I got home, we would have a serious talk. Either he needed to leave home, or he needed to start paying board. He got in first. He said that he had been thinking and perhaps he would go to Perth and look for work. I was both stunned and relieved.
Perth was not such a big deal in that my sister lives in that city and his donor father is also there, although Donald and his father hardly knew each other. They certainly did not have a father/son relationship. Still it was far away and it meant that Donald was going to have to find accommodation, a job, and to make a new life for himself.
While away, he did labouring work, did some TAFE study in the mining sector and got a job at the remote Woodie Woodie mine site in the Pilbara region. He had to work with characters who Donald described as racist, sexist and homophobic. (I was relieved that he recognised these people for what they were. It meant that I had done something right.) He found himself somewhere to live and made new friends. Those were the social skills.
On the practical side, he learnt self-resilience, how to budget on minimal income, how to shop economically, and how to keep himself healthy with wise food choices. He can drive a 4-Wheel Drive and change a spark plug. He has a range of technical skills that surprise me. He also has a new confidence in himself that I welcome.
OK – there are not total miracles here. There are still dirty plates hibernating in his room but not as many and he is better at washing up and domestic chores and cooking dinner for us both too. Importantly, it was a teenager who left and it is a young man who has come back. It is so good to have him home again. I didn’t realise how much I had missed that kiss goodnight before he went to bed or he went out with his friends. It’s great to have someone with whom I can discuss issues and share decisions. At some stage, Donald will move on and make his own life elsewhere, but for now I like the feeling of company and understanding.
I realised when he left that this was a move that he needed to make but it is only now that I have understood that it was a version of the epic Journey. Thinking back, it is very similar to a journey of self-discovery that I made decades before, and that was important to my self-learning as well. It is a pity that all young people are not able to make this trip of discovery though many of them do.
Did you make a journey? What changes did it make for you?