MomsGetReal™ Contribtor Belinda Hulin

The gumbo had just started simmering when my cell phone rang. The name on the readout came as a surprise: My son’s ex-girlfriend. I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in a couple of months and I’ll admit, I felt a little surge of happiness—tinged with wariness—seeing her name there.

I stirred the pot, took a breath and answered with a cheery “hello.”

On the other end, Dylan’s ex (we’ll call her Jane) couldn’t talk fast enough. “Walgreens called me to say Dylan’s prescription is ready. I told them to take my name and phone number and all my contact information off his account. But I thought I should tell someone his prescription is ready.”

I didn’t know he had a prescription at Walgreens; much less that he had ever listed her as his contact. He lived with us the entire time he dated her, and she was here so often we felt like she lived here too. “Uh, oh—ok Jane,” I said. “Thank you.” To which she replied, “Yes ma’am” and promptly hung up. I kept stirring.

The breakup was less than amicable. All of Dylan’s breakups are less than amicable. My son seems to attract women who bond to him in an instant, stay glued to him literally or via electronics 24/7, then dump him weeks, months or years later with a swiftness and viciousness I find shocking. Of course, I love my son. He’s got a good heart. But I can see why a young woman might find a 23-year old with ADHD, limited employment possibilities, very limited means, no car and a room in his parents’ house to be a less than perfect catch. Mostly, I’m confused by the fact that he is never without a girlfriend. And these women always seem committed to excusing his lack of initiative, accepting that better days are around the corner, and convincing themselves that their love will turn him from a misunderstood geek to the next czar of poi, of fire spinning, of Halo, or of whatever else he’s obsessing about at the moment.

Jane was by far the biggest enabler of all. She had an independent income, plus support from wealthy relatives. She wanted to go out, to travel, to buy things—and she wanted someone to do it with and for. Dylan was in hog heaven. But here’s the thing: Much as I try to ignore Dylan’s girlfriends (I value my privacy and I figure they’re just passing through anyway), I came to love Jane. She was quirky, funny, awkward in some ways and incredibly sophisticated in others. She loved Dylan in spite of his flaws and she seemed to love us as well. I embraced her. I even took her to New Orleans for Christmas to spend time with my extended family! (And we all know that’s a stretch on the vulnerability scale.)

So when Dylan told us she’d just announced (by phone) that she never wanted to see him again, I of course comforted my distraught son. I wondered what could cause someone to abruptly dump someone she’d dated for two years, including a month in China for which she paid the bills. I wondered what Dylan had said or done. What had happened?

Then I heard she had another boyfriend. Dylan moved on. Within a week he was dating. Within a month he had a new girlfriend. I didn’t have to worry about him—well, beyond the usual amount.

But am I wrong to feel betrayed? I know, I know: It’s not about you, Mom. Yet, I let this young woman into my home, into my life, into my family—and through no fault of mine (unless you want to blame me for Dylan’s foibles) she removed herself. …without so much as a “thanks for the memories.”

I guess this is the mini-version of what parents feel when their children divorce. Since Dylan has moved on and there’s nothing more at stake, I’m not really entitled to grieve over this. It’s just life moving on. However, I hope you’ll forgive me if I indulge in a really big helping of gumbo. It’s my comfort food and after being abruptly dismissed by someone I hugged and encouraged, I need it.