15 August 2011

And who says...?

The shadows lengthen in ways I recognize, and I feel something like melancholy at the signs of late summer--by the calendar, not the seasons.

Somehow the summer has all but disappeared. Friday, I take the daughter to registration/get yer books and schedule and hopefully, a supply list/have your ID photo taken, and orientation (for her) and parents' reception (me), designed to make us all feel better about the first day of school in a strange new land. Where she lands the following Tuesday.

Really, how did that happen?

(Not to worry, I have the son hanging out with me until the following week.)

Usually, the idea of going back to school fills me with unholy and slightly guilty glee. Hours to myself again! Not so much this year.

This autumn, I need to make a decision about how much longer I'm going to live with this level of pain. I have such bad days (today) that I don't know how I'll make it another week. Then I'm quiet and everything sort of settles down, but you know, I didn't sign up to live the remainder of my life quietly. I haven't even made it out of my 40s yet, so it's not like I'm ready to roll over and play dead. We all know that there will be more ladders (hey, I only fell off once yesterday...) and rock concerts and the other physical things that get me into trouble.


There is also the college thing. Trust me, this is one that is starting to keep me up at night.
(Free-floating anxiety is a bit of a theme around here. We all have it right now for vastly different reasons. It's making for a lot of fussing.

All summer, I've been confronted with the reality that I've a year left with my son. Even if it should happen that he lands at a local school and lives at home, in some ineffable way, he will no longer be mine. I've been--gently and not so gently--pushing him toward adulthood these last few years, teaching him basic skills, though he often doesn't recognize that's the point. He's just happy to learn how to make tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches. He knows how to run a lawnmower, how to drill things. My generation of parents--at least here in California--seems so stuck on making their children dependent. I make mine help me trim hedges and clean bathrooms and sort their laundry and wash dishes.

I examine my relationship with my own parents and the spouse's with his, and I worry. I don't think I've made quite the same mistakes with my own children that our forebears did with us, but I have made mistakes. I don't know what impact those errors will have on my future relationship with these two, but I've enjoyed a closeness with them that I've never had elsewhere. I want them to grow up, I want them to become happy and fulfilled adults, but I don't want to lose them.

I've never rushed through the process of raising them, never been anxious to see them on to another stage, never thought "I can't wait until they're out of my house!" I learned early that yes, there are terrible twos and there are terrible teens, but each of those terrible phases has its own moments of beauty and discovery. I don't regret the difficult moments because each meltdown taught me something, even if it was an inconvenient moment for a lesson.

I've been firm with the son that what he decides is his decision. Of course, the schools have a say in what goes on, but I am trying to divorce myself from the selection process. It was up to him to choose the schools we looked at this summer; I just planned the trip.

I don't tell him that I can't for a moment imagine him three thousand miles away for years.

Go listen to some good music: "better on the hard side" from the album ...undone by The Lucy Show. I mean there is something to be said for no more driving kids to school and no more back-to-school-nights, but...

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