“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
Well, technically it isn’t over, over. It is, however, the end of a long road. The road of incubation, both inside and out, coddling, hiding in a closet the first night home from the hospital because of a tornado warning (it’s Texas). No more awe at the ocean, fireworks, or going fishing. Maybe there is still awe at snow, we don’t get it enough for that to get old. But dear old Mom and Dad are old hat and a little obsolete, both much louder (“What did you say?”) and even quieter (we’ve gotten used to much more silence).
I innocently asked my dad once, When do you stop worrying about your kids?
His wise and true answer was, Never.
So parenting is not over. But hovering (Did we ever really do that? Have they brushed their teeth today?), the opportunity and ability to hover, gone. As are our children (just about).
One packed off to London on Sunday, full of tears and self doubt and wanting to throw-up. It’s Tuesday as I write this, and if she’s looking for tissue or buckets in London, its only because of that perfectly lovely looking ice cream she just ate and shared with the world.
I’m not crying. (Am I?) I know this because I’ve not started wallowing in sad music, yet. (Yes, I do this, bathing in sad feelings with sad, sad music and then suddenly pulling the plug on it, snapping it all off. It’s a secret, but my husband does it, too; I know it because he’s out back, in the cold and dark, feeding the fire and sniffling, with his earbuds secure in place while I catch snatches of his sad-wallow singing with modus operandi, Les Miserable.) If you don’t have a sad playlist go-to of your own and have listened to your therapist instead of tuning her out (Feel the pain, she says, don’t bury it), let me know if you need my playlist (but first assure me you are perfectly fine or I won’t send it to you).
The boy soon leaves for Spain—to teach English for a year. (Good Lord, why didn’t I think of that when I was younger?).
They both have the travel bug and it’s all my fault, with my exalting over studying abroad, seeing the Berlin Wall coming down, the Christopher Columbus statute, the TGV (spoken as fast as the bullet train travels, with French accent), Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, as well as the City on a Hill that no one ever talks about (Lyon) and the old tunnels that enabled the French Resistance, the UN and formation of the European Union (good God, is that over, too?). It is my fault, and I’m glad of it, even if it means I don’t get to see their sweet faces, kiss their ear at just the ouch spot, and hug and hug them, while listening to their music, their books, their shows, their life,
their voices, their opinions. Thankfully, I do still get to see their pictures.
I'll take the bridge between then and now. I’d never ever give up that yesterday dance, not in a million years (a Garth Brooks reference, for you youngsters out there). And, yes, Dr. Seuss, I’ll choose to smile because it happened, once upon a lovely little family time.
Plus, I still have the money, so, thank God, they’ll still be calling. Texting. Something.