Posted in Adult Offspring, College, Fragile Life, Insight, Milestone Moments, Mother to Crone, Nuts & Bolts, Takes a Village, Twenty-something, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

No Guarantees

There’s something about a college graduation.

I can’t put my finger on it.

Last weekend, at the farmers market, I came across another college graduate and she told me about her plans to return west to start her career, and I walked away weeping.

I’m grateful for sunny days. For sunglasses.

I think it’s time. Maybe it’s time. Time passing.

Teens becoming grownups. Everything changing, reshaping.

I had come to the Farmer’s Market from yoga so maybe I was especially tender. I feel awfully proud of my son’s graduation, but I’m not sure why. What did I have to do with it?

I actually felt called out when the commencement speaker said: “Thank your parents,” especially as I looked around at all the richer parents or harder working ones or more sacrificing ones–those who put their kids through school while ours did it on his own.

And then I remembered all the trips I made to be close by when he was going through something that I couldn’t quite figure and then all the times I helped him navigate through alternate routes and detours and segues. I remembered all the encouragement and returns and goodbyes and trips to the airport. The fights. The pillow talk. The persistence. So much persistence.

Maybe I feel used up.

Maybe that’s just right.

I gave it my all, I did.

He seemed so happy on his graduation day and that made me happy. It still does. He was so full of himself in the way that every one of us should be at such a moment. Inflated. Buoyant. Light. The whole point of me was to be ballast. Weight. Homecoming. Backboard. Less and less relevant.

I always feel better when I write into something that I don’t quite understand even if I don’t understand it much better afterward.

Just showing up for myself is something.

Like I showed up for him.

Like we’ve been showing up for this nation.
For women.
For immigrants.
For Muslims and Jews and POC.
For the underpaid. The uninsured.

No guarantees.

Posted in College, Fragile Life, Insight, Milestone Moments, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

The missing limb

1187287_10151818827533746_1766580072_nI’m not a sailor or a swimmer, but I love being beside the water. And so, while my husband and our younger son gallivant around town, I retreat to a quiet table on a floating dock.

I order a glass of Chardonnay and coconut shrimp and then I set to scribbling notes on sheets of paper that I obtained from the young man at the Marina desk.

As I sip and write, the day is crystal clear and the mountain range across the great expanse of Lake Champlain appears as if it is a sea of waves unto itself.

This is perfect therapy for saying goodbye to a son (my first born) which we did just an hour ago. This is better than all those last minute searches at Wal-Mart and Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond with the throngs of other distraught parents of college freshmen, willing to buy anything to delay the pain of separation.

Before we leave town–and leave him behind–the rest of us will take the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory tour, I think to myself. Why not! We can have some fun.

A thin, blue dragonfly lands on my table and reminds me of my calling. I am a not only a mother. I am a writer. I fold a second piece of paper once, and then again, so that there are 4 boxes into which I can, somewhat privately, collect my emerging thoughts as the server refills my water.

I write about how how the body has its own response to goodbye even as the mind says it’s fine…

When I have filled an entire side of the sheet, I unfold it and flip it to the opposite side, folding it up once more. I scoop out some of the ice from the water and drop it into my wine. I am almost buoyant.

“I think we should move here, Dad.”

I look up to see a boy about the age of our younger son, 13, standing beside his father who has stepped up to the bar. I recognize the longing in the boy’s voice, feel it in myself. I’ve heard the same longing  in my husband’s today as he raves about the Champlain Valley, as if to say the same: “Let’s just move here.”

I don’t hear the father’s reply, but I sense it in his wife’s face as she approaches him. She is beautiful, but her cheeks look hollowed. She attempts a smile and then brushes her hand against her husband’s cheek while he leans over to kiss his son on the forehead.

From behind, a small girl with long brown curls wraps her arms around her father’s waist and rests her head against his back.

As the family limps away with their drinks, I brush tears from my cheek.