When i left home for university, i was just 18. Other than a few weeks the following summer, i never lived with my parents again. Due to a combination of sheer will, and a bit of luck, i did not ‘bounce’ back. The youngest of the four children in my family, i was the only one who managed to make it to adulthood without a temporary return to the nest. They had worked hard to raise us all, and by the time i got to 18 they were tired. So very tired. i didn’t want to pile on heartache.
With my own children, it was a little different. The Girl moved back in after graduation, while pursuing work in the Foreign Service. She worked full time, saved money, studied for her exams. She was an excellent room mate and citizen of the household. Her cooking and baking skills were greatly appreciated (the best tabbouleh i’ve ever had). She was here about a year and a half before setting out for her life abroad.
The Boy? Bounced back a few times during The Wilderness Years*, while fighting his way through The Gargantuan State University. When he left school, to work full time on the road, he used my place as a mailing address, and would be home for a week a month. We had to revisit house rules, but he became a decent room mate. When he enlisted in the Army, we both knew his time living with me was coming to an end – and we enjoyed each others company more than ever.
The Girl was really gone eight years ago. The Boy? Five. They are far enough away that time spent with them is rare, and quite precious. When The Girl comes home for a month in the summer, i adjust my schedule to accommodate another person in the household. There isn’t much she can do to annoy me. i know it’s brief. i know she has to go home again. The same with visits with The Boy. The chaos is disruptive, but never in a bad way.
What i’ve discovered is an ache – something new for my parental angst inventory. When they are headed home, or when i’m leaving after an extended visit, my heart simply hurts. It’s physical. It’s not debilitating, and it doesn’t last for more than a week or so… Just a soft blanket of melancholy.
It was my hope to raise independent, functional adults, living lives of deliberate choice. Clearly, in that way i succeeded.
When Mom died, i was surprised to find her calendar notes, carefully tracking my planned business trips, up until the month she died. She always asked questions about where i was headed, and i didn’t give it much thought. i think she just needed to know where on earth her kid was, even though the ‘kid’ was in her 50’s.
Looking back, i realize that the fiercely independent girl who left home at 18, determined to never ‘bounce’, wanting to spare her parents heartache failed. It can’t be avoided.
Source: The Artwork of Chad Knight(Digital Artist)
*Should be a trademark of kono over at The Asshat Lounge. If you’re not reading his blog, you are missing some of the sharpest, darkest, most honest writing on the internet.