A Parent…

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.

parenting - the hole truth

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. 

Settling in…

It’s strange, but good.  After twenty years in a comfortable family home, i’m starting fresh.  Some observations on differences and adjustments…

– My dog can shit four times a day.  When i just put him out back in the fenced in yard at the old homestead, i didn’t stand there watching him do a poo.  Until i started walking him three or four times a day, i had no idea what a complete shitting machine he is… 

– The bathroom just isn’t right.  No shelves for all that “girl shrapnel” (make up, potions, lotions and gooey things).  Putting it in drawers isn’t the same.  Made a run today for some small shelves/baskets to help organize it.  Won’t be truly settled until i can put on my make up in a pre-caffeinated haze in the morning…

– My dog likes going for walks.  The first few times, Mr. Pickles was timid, nose down, and skittish.  After a few days?  Head up, tail up and a jaunty sproing to his step.  Sniffing here, peeing there, he’s having a great time when we go out.  Probably clocking in a mile or so every day, i look forward to the morning and evening walks as well.

– Speaking of evening walks… it is a bit difficult to find and bag dog poo while holding a flashlight – and a hyperactive dog.  i need one more hand.  Perhaps one of my camping headlamps?  Need to come up with something before winter sets in and it’s dark after work…

– Quiet.  i mean reallyquiet.  No street noise, generators, lawnmowers… or voices.  Just frogs, crickets, cicadas.  The Stepford Neighbors don’t seem to go out much after dusk…

–  i don’t miss the old house.  At first i had moments of squishy, nostalgic glurge… “my babies grew up there…” and “we had so much fun there…”.  After spending the better part of the past two weekends repairing odds and ends there?  Screw it.  i’m sick of replacing screens, washing windows, replacing outlet covers and mucking around in the old place.  ARRRRRGH!  i need it rented, and i want it behind me!

– i still have way too much shit.  Today, i took three more bags of clothing and shoes to Goodwill.  More to go.  i’m still in a “pare down” mindset… and i feels good.  But so much more to pitch.  Overwhelming…

– Empty… The Girl is settling into her new gig in Beirut.  The Boy is in an apartment on the main campus of his university (rather than living in a small apartment in a cornhole town attending a satellite campus).  Classes start in about a week.  He’ll have plenty of distractions, not to mention, his own washer/dryer.  i don’t expect to see much of either of them this year… as it should be…

– In six weeks:  i leave for a two week trip to South America.  Holy Crap.  i’ve got a lot to do between now and then… unpacking?  Still at the top of the list…