Posted in (Actual) Empty Nest, Adult Offspring, College, Holidays, Home again, Mother to Crone, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

Home from School

The children, once grown, move in and out of the home like water.

Trickles, flash floods, sun showers, but rarely if ever the familiar steady flow, though evidence of it is everywhere, like seahorses found in the desert.

It all happened so fast.

Not the day-to-day, which seemed without beginning or end, but the vanishing which screams in silence from room to room…

Two placemats on the kitchen table.
The empty bedrooms (though we do our best to avoid them.)
The basement, from which I’ve just returned, with a hand on my heart and another on my belly, as if I’m about to be sick.

Like a morgue, the basement houses the remains of a life once embodied, together.

What to make of the favorite toys? The collections? The artwork? The photos?

I’m a Keeper, the consequence of a fractured childhood.

But now, the keeping weighs me down, leaves me sad, makes me wonder what I am to do with it all (and myself.)

To whom does it belong?
To whom do I?

My mother departed before her nest emptied, so it’s my husband’s mother whose gradual paring of the home I watched over time. I hadn’t known I’d been watching. Absorbing. Digesting. Over three decades. (Three decades!)

I had such hopes for thinning this autumn. But the weather, it kept changing. Inside and around me. The visits fast and furious and sometimes choppy and extended.

“Be like water,” wrote Minister Kendra Ford.

Run deep run clear
fill any space to its
own dimensions
respond to the moon, to gravity
change colors with the light
hold your temperature longer
than the surrounding air
take the coast by storm
go under ground
bend light
be the one thing people need, even when they’re fasting
eat boulders, quietly
be a universal solvent.

Am I water too?

I’m not sure which direction I’m flowing.

Should I swim or float or dive deep like I did each time I welcomed a new baby into my body and onto my breast and into our lives. “I feel like I’m living underwater,” I used to say to friends.

Perhaps I am a beached whale or a fossil of a whale like those discovered in the Green Mountains near Lake Champlain.

In part, it’s the way the leaving instantly aged me, signaled the impending Swan Song. Maybe that’s the secret of large families–perpetually immersed in the sea of new life–wave after wave–grandchildren arriving before the departure of the youngest.

And what of those without children? Do they experience a more seamless, fluid aging?

Must we stay young?

How do we know when. To hold on. To let go.

Posted in College, Nuts & Bolts, Twenty-something, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

Spring Break

At 22, he’ll still fight me over meal contributions (dishes & the like), and it is this ordinariness in which I most delight–this sharing of home–particularly now that he resides elsewhere; a fact my heart refuses to assimilate.

 

Posted in College, Mother to Crone, Twenty-something, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

a mother’s resolution

Saying goodbye again, K. Salasin, 2018

I’m not sure if it’s the hormones or the daily meditation practice or the surrender that comes with radical aging, but apparently, I’ve been assigned this New Year’s Resolution:

“Weep without restraint.”

I once went 4 years without a single tear–all the way through adolescence; and as a mother, my boys could count the times they saw me cry.

On this wintry day, I wake as I often do–migraine-y; only at 14 below, the pain doesn’t ease with rising & hydrating & showering.

Additionally, the departure of my first born is imminent. He only lives a few hours away this year (unlike the semester in Central America or the one across Europe or the season at the shore), but he is returning to school via Istanbul–to meet her family.

And more than that, and we shouldn’t have done it, but we’ve grown attached to him again, which is to say he arrived the week before Solstice and has been here ever since, all the way through to the Epiphany, so unlike previous years, when he was barely home at all for the holidays, let alone for more than a weekend in any season.

While he scurried around the house packing up, I felt my resistance shape like a barge inside me, and so I threw myself into cooking, just in case he was still around for lunch (and just so I wouldn’t flutter around him or re-arrange his room or decide we needed to relocate.)

Not only homemade spaghetti sauce (with Italian opera playing in the background) but a deep dish turkey pot pie, all served in my grandmother’s china.

He looks like his grandmother. He is dark-skinned like her. Wise. (Once at the height of summer, I cooked my mother’s Turkey soup to bear the ache of missing her.)

I dropped three different lids today while I prepared the feast that no one planned to eat, and he tripped up two sets of stairs while packing, and his younger brother dropped an entire tray of silverware on the dishwasher rack, (cracking a piece of my grandmother’s china) while their father had to be sent to his room to meditate for fear he would implode with his silent suffering.

They just left for the airport. All three of my men. Well, sort of. There are a few last minute stops and an overnight at a friend’s place outside of Boston for the one who is flying.

Tomorrow, my husband and our 17-year-old–will return to the high school; and then this house on this hill in the middle of the woods will be all mine again.

No doubt, I will do what I did when our son first went off to college: step into his room and steep in the absence of him, confounded by the depth and breadth of motherhood within the constant tugging of selfhood (or is self now occupied within mother?)

“Your life has blessed mine,” I told him as we embraced in the kitchen after he washed the lunch pots.

I kissed this bristly man, my baby, on both cheeks, and even on his forehead, suddenly communing with the 4 year-old boy whose self was so intertwined with mine, instead of this 22 year-old man whose life continues to twine elsewhere, across oceans and continents, as if we hadn’t shared the same body and breath.

I am learning what it is to love. It is a wave. A tide. A flood. A desert.An oasis. A fresh, pulsing spring.

At best, I am reed like. Moving toward and away. Loving myself and this vacancy even as I weep, especially as I weep, keeping my soul moist, my heart resilient, and my life ready to expand or contract at any moment.