The Countdown Begins

Walking at Lake Hiawatha
Walking at Lake Hiawatha

Yesterday, Hannah, Ethan and I carried on one of our only single-family traditions. That tradition has us going to The Baker’s Wife in South Minneapolis, and buying freshly made doughnuts, which we carry to Lake Hiawatha and eat as we walk by the lake. We have done this for my birthday and Hannah’s for at least five years now. We really can’t do this for Ethan’s birthday as the lake is just a frozen tundra at that time of the year. Ethan’s birthday, in any event, is usually spent at some form of gymnastics meet as it occurs during his competitive season. This past year, we were flying back from his first national meet, in San Francisco, on his 14th birthday.

Ethan took this picture of Hannah and I by the lake yesterday. I like it very much because Hannah looks so happy and you can’t see my big pregnant belly. We were celebrating Hannah’s birthday early, as she’ll be in Japan on her 17th birthday this year. Also, yesterday was the first day in August, which means our countdown has begun. Hannah leaves on August 12th. The days are quickly speeding by. I cannot believe how fast July went. I want to hold onto time and keep it from slipping passed me. Perhaps that is what all parents want, only I am experiencing an amped up version of this phenomena right now. The beginning of August also brought me to the magical 34-week point in this pregnancy. I’ve been on restricted activity for last few weeks due to pre-term labor symptoms, but my midwife released me to my activities at 34 weeks. So August arrives on a bitter sweet wind. Child number three sitting more secure, but one child’s nest flight closer than ever.

I felt something else yesterday too. It was officially the end of an era. The kids and I spent the morning cleaning my house in St. Paul; the house where I raised them largely on my own for the past seven years. The house closes tomorrow. Although my kids don’t seem to realize it yet, I think they’ll look back fondly at our time in that house. We created many good memories there. It’s just that, right now, the excitement of having cable television, air conditioning, and more than one bathroom (compliments of Chris’s town home) seems to be preventing any obvious sadness over the loss of “our” place. Still, as I walked through the empty rooms one last time yesterday, I was very proud of what I had done. I was proud that I had maintained that house all by myself for seven years; that I had provided my kids with a stable home base, even as their dad’s life broke into pieces a few years back. I still remember the night that my boiler malfunctioned at 3:30 am. It was about 20 below outside and I knew we couldn’t survive long without heat. At first, I sat down on the cold cement basement floor and cried, longing for a partner to help me. Then I prayed to God for help. Then I went to get the instruction manual for the five-year old boiler and proceeded to drain the radiators and add in new water to rebalance the pressure gauge. It was about 5:40 am by the time I finished and I had to then get ready for work. Yet, my confidence  had grown so much in having solved this problem on my own, I still went to work with fresh energy.

I know that this is what I give Hannah in letting her go away this year. I give her all sorts of problems she’ll have to solve on her own, without me to consult with or even a familiar cultural base to guide her. She’ll be stretched in unimaginable directions. She will change, grow, and mature in ways that we cannot see from here; ways that I cannot define. I hope she comes through the experience as a capable, confident young woman. Maybe I hope, as all parents must, that she’ll in some way be equipped to leap frog many of the mistakes I made due to my lack of self-confidence. Hoping she’ll find herself before she gets partnered for life, not after. These wings I give her, may they help her navigate more intelligently and more practically than I once did. But not only that, may she gain vision for a life that captures her dreams.

Ten days remaining with my daughter just down the stairs. Oh, how I love her–love both of my kids. The team of three that we once were has now been fortified by a forth leg of our table; strong and stable Chris. I am grateful, ever so, for Chris but I feel also incredibly blessed to have the two kids that I have. As I told them yesterday, they made great kids for a stumbling single-parent.

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