Sooner or later it had to happen. Like my mother used to tell me, "I promise dear, they will not be wearing diapers when they go to college, nor will they need their pacifier." They grow up in spite of us most of the time! The thing is I was ready for the bounce the last time. As sad as I was, I was excited about him getting involved in a life of his choosing at college, excited about the possibilities. I cried and felt lost for a while, but then my life began to take on a new direction and I had more space in my psyche for the things I loved.
What I wasn't prepared for was the coming home part. And then the leaving again part. And then the coming home part. The last few years things have settled into a comfortable consistency. It's as if we're meant to be together as a family. My sons are grown-ups now. Having them live with us is not only helpful, but fun! They're very entertaining! They keep us up to speed on what's going on in the world when we're too tired to care. We're friends. Their leaving this time is going to be different.
Why is it things never work out the way we think they will? I wonder why I didn't learn from my own erratic behavior as a twenty-something that getting settled into life (if, indeed that is ever really possible) is challenging at best? How did I come to have the audacity and downright arrogance to think that I could change the nature of things when it came to my own children just because I loved them? I had so much pain as a young person that I was determined with all my being to protect them from such a fate. Who was I kidding? Life is just damn hard! and the pain is necessary.
I feel frustrated when I consider that although I've lived a few years more than they have and I think I've figured out some things, I can't really share what I have learned with them. They're not ready to benefit from my wisdom. Nor should they be. It would be stealing their destiny. Life is no less a process of discovery, an adventure in trial and error, for them than it was for me. It's just what is!
What I have figured out is for me and me alone. Not for them. They have to find their own way and the world is a very different place now. Even if we hated the societal structures that we grew up with, they were there for us, strong and steady, giving us something to rebel against, something to measure our decisions by and we had the freedom to choose our own path. It was a path that was different from our parents. My sons had a different set of parameters to measure their beliefs and actions by. Why should I think they would come to the same conclusions that I have? Maybe they will in time. But time is pretty gosh darn important when it comes to figuring out what life is all about. After all, isn't the term "wisdom" applied to the old, and why we say someone is "wise beyond their years"?
I'm proud of both of my sons. I'm proud of my husband and me as parents. Have we been the best? Not a chance, but we have loved them with everything we had and have and stood by them through thick and thin. They know we love them. They know we are here for them as long as we're standing. Whether or not they will be there for us is yet untested, but I believe they will. They are thinkers, they evaluate, they are sensitive, kind and caring, they are creative, smart, careful, loyal and very much individuals. They've had a good start. The rest is up to them. For me? Life is a series of transitions. This is just another one. I'll adjust.