Lately, my sons have refused invitations or eagerly accepted them but then not followed through, while simultaneously (along with their father) they make increasingly unconscious demands on my time and energy; so that yesterday, I found myself walking to the pond, feeling sorry for myself, absent of the sweet company I so desired/deserved; and these thoughts continued with me down the road, across the brook, up the hill and down the path through the woods to the water’s grassy edge, where they slipped away with asana under the morning sun, until I found myself supine on the dock in a gentle spinal twist, looking up at the needles of a tall pine with whom I’ve communed for so many years–through so many seasons of my life–and hers–ice storms and snow storms and early springs and fair autumns (skipping high summer when the campers are here)–And in that moment I felt the steady friendship of her branches extended toward me and the strength of her deep roots sustaining our connection, and I realized how I would never be alone, not really, even when both boys are gone; and I thought about how often men forsake not only the women in their lives, but the earth, and how that brings women and the earth closer together, and aren’t we better for it; and then, something else:
I consider it part of my parting duty to impart beach culture to my mountain grown sons.
Lose the hikers.
Let the hair become wild with humidity.
Get sand… everywhere.
Let it stay.
Smell the air.
Feel the spray.
Sample slices until you find the best pizza.
Welcome the fog. The rain. Let it all be one.
Thick hoodies. Leisurely breakfasts. Coffee. Music. Chaos.
Beach chairs. Flip flops. Fudge.
Salt water taffy. Beer bottles. Bar flies. Bare feet. Sunburn.
Shellfish. Sandcastles. Donuts. Surf shops.
Waves. Seagulls. Lifeguards. Sunsets.
Who knew that the blues could speak to mothers, but they do…
I tried to get a head start on this empty nest thing years ago when my son first entered adolescence. I thought if I wrote about it, ahead of it all, it would be easier, like having an epidural. But47 posts on Teens later, I still feel the pain of this impending separation.
I feel it when I shop for his toiletries. I feel it when I kiss him goodnight. I feel it when I look at his younger brother, who has just turned 13 himself.
It’s too early to pour a glass of chardonnay so I turn toward the issue of laundry. My 18 year old’s laundry. At college.
For days now, I’ve been plagued with worry…
What kind of laundry basket should he have at school?
What would serve as an inviting receptacle, and also a means of transport to the laundry room, and then back again, folded, to be placed in drawers?
This preoccupation of mine is odd for so many reasons, but mainly because:
I stopped doing my son’s laundry when he was 5,
and because my son currently leaves his clothes strewn across the floor,
washes them only when he needs underwear,
(or when he can’t afford to buy any more shirts,)
and then leaves his clean laundry in the washer–for hours,
followed by the dryer–for days,
Until it is coaxed along by strident parental pleas,
after which he leaves it in the laundry basket,
Until someone else needs the basket,
and grumbling, dumps the laundry on his bed,
Where it Remains…
Until it slides back onto the floor
Whence it came.
“Why don’t we wait until I get there and see what I works?” my son says.
He was always practical like this, even as a toddler. (It’s annoying.)
I’ll never forget the first time he called me on my parental misguided-ness: