They’ve Left; I’m Back

I think that I’ve ended this blog twice now and have come back to it. Perhaps next time this happens, I just need to say that I’m taking a break for a while. In any event, I’m not good with endings; with goodbyes; with letting go.

I need this blog right now because, more than any other time, I feel in a unique parenting position (now with two in college and a preschooler at home) and I need to express into words this place where I am. I will try my hardest to not specifically discuss my children in this blog. In particular, child number two–who is the one who complained about me discussing his life on this blog. Instead, I’ll try to keep to the “me” part of parenting.

I left child number two off at college yesterday. I left him to his already-messy dorm room with his three roommates, already worrying they weren’t compatible. I left worrying about how he’d wake up for classes on his own. And worrying about his lack of interest in keeping up on the college web site or even emails–wondering how he’d know what was going on. I was sad leaving child number one at college two years ago, but I knew she’d make it. She’d managed a whole 10 plus months in Japan alone at age 16-17. How could she not manage college, only 5 hours away? Child number two, however, has not had that same type of life experience. So this is the first big separation for him. Yet, he is emotionally more independent than child number one (although she is getting there now). Chris assures me that he will be fine–that he is more than capable. And he is. He is.

When I came home last night, after dropping Two off, I found myself pulling out his birth video–still on VHS. We currently have a DVD/VHS dubbing machine set up (for transferring the VHS home videos to DVD–and when I say “currently,” I meant that it has been 4 years now and no one has completed the project) and so I rewound and rewound the tape, finally reaching the day of number Two’s birth. My ex-husband had started taping just after Two was born and placed on my belly. He was peaceful and calm. Then they took him away from me to weigh and such. Then he howled. I still remember how helpless I felt, over there pushing out the placenta and unable to reach my howling newborn. I felt that same way yesterday, driving away with my son still tired from his lack of sleep the night before (he’d already spent one night in the dorm room and I came back yesterday for orientation) and totally unsure about how he (who has always had his own room) was going to function in a room with three other guys. Number two likes his peace and solitude; needs it. I tried to encourage him to go for a single or a two-person occupancy dorm. He went for the quad, however, because it was cheaper. Two’s always trying to save money.

My pelvic region has been in pain for the past week or so. I am going to get it checked out but I am wondering how much of it was just early contractions. My womb preparing to spit out this child once again–this time to a place far apart from me. He felt it too. Indeed, perhaps he is the child most connected with me at a deep soul level. He is the most like me. And so, in preparation for leaving, he suggested we watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy during the week before he left. We watched The Fellowship of the Rings on the Sunday before he left. The middle one (forget the name–it is my favorite of the books and least favorite of the movies) on Wednesday. I slept through much of this one. On Thursday, the night before he left, we watch The Return of the King (my favorite of the movies). With each moment of the movie, I was aware exactly how many hours and minutes I had with that precious son left in my house. I never wanted a movie to drag on as much as that one. We last watched these movies together when he was 13. It was just after I had finished all three books so that I’d be able to discuss them with him (one of the best moves of my parenting life). It goes so quickly–once they reach 12 or 13 and become like these really cool people who like to do the kind of stuff you like to do. It is like having really fun friends right there with you. It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing dinosaurs on the floor with number Three (okay, well I enjoy that he is enjoying it), but the parenting years really get amazing when your kids are old enough to watch movies you enjoy (in other words, out beyond the Disney years) and can discuss novels with you and visit art museums, while intelligently critiquing the art, or introduce you to Broadway plays you never would have seen without fueling their interest. You only get about 5-6 incredible years like this and then they leave. It’s actually pretty sad.

I am quite aware that, had Chris and then Three not come into my life 5 and then 4 years ago, I would truly have not just an empty nest right now but also an empty home. I paused for a moment yesterday to think about what that would have been like, how I would have coped. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it though, likely because it is just not my current reality. Instead, after dropping two off, I came home and hugged number Three just a little tighter all evening long. After all, he’s turning four years old soon. I realize quite acutely how these days of playing dinosaurs on the floor will eventually give way to days discussing and reading The Lord of the Rings and then, one day, the day when I too will leave him off at college. For today, however, I commit to really being in every moment down there on the floor with the dinosaurs and the puzzles. I am finally starting to recognize that my role as “mother” is the very best and greatest of my life.


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