I see children as kites.
You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground
You run with them until you are both breathless
They crash, they hit the rooftop
You patch and you comfort
You adjust and you teach
You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they'll fly
Finally they are airborne, and they need more string and you keep letting it out
But with each twist of the ball of twine there is a sadness that goes with the joy
The kite becomes more distant and you know that it won't be long before that
string will snap and the lifeline that holds you together will no longer be the same
A child, as a kite, must be prepared to soar, as they are meant to soar,
free and alone, to the greatest extent possible
And only then can we collectively say that we have done our job.
(Thanks to Margie Schwenk, my dear friend and fellow college freshman kite flyer -- one of Daniel's special "other moms" and favorite high school teachers -- for sharing this poem with me at just the right time. It helped. Love you...)
Sunday, November 13, 2011
After months of anticipating John's first live Iowa Hawkeye football game (it's at the top of his bucket list) and hanging with Danny Boy for an entire weekend, we decided to stay home and give our tickets (good seats) to Daniel and his friends.
Probably a good thing since the Hawks lost to Michigan State, 37-21, and John would have had to double up on his nitro...
But seriously, folks...
Other than the Hawks losing, it's been a perfect first Parents' Weekend.
Yes, you read that right.
I was so OK with not going. And I am pretty sure Daniel had more fun with his pals than he would have had with us. And that is OK, too. It's better than OK, really. It's fantastic! I have enjoyed this weekend at home just knowing that Daniel is enjoying it in Iowa City without his "rents".
Can you believe it?
The frazzled mother-of-an-only child who counted down every last second from high school graduation last May to college move-in day last August with a bucket of tears, who practically had to have her fingers pried from around her son's ankles as they said goodbye at the campus bus stop, is OK with not visiting her Sonny Boy on his first Parents' Weekend?
Granted, the day late last summer we ordered our Parents' Weekend tickets, neither John or I could fathom having to wait to November for the Big Event!
True, Daniel and I texted and IM'd on Facebook fairly regularly, and he called every Sunday like we planned, and we had visited him at school one Sunday in September...but there was still this nagging, lost feeling. The feeling of not being needed anymore. Of being disconnected. Uncomfortably untethered from the one person I had been tied to with constant, sturdy heartstrings since he was conceived in May 1992. That disconnection seemed to grow and haunt me more with each passing day...
Then Daniel's high school homecoming arrived, and he came home for the first time since college had started, and I knew the minute our eyes met he was not the same kid we had left to fend for himself in Iowa City a few months earlier.
Danny Boy was now Dan the Young Man.
And he was happy! And smiling! And laughing! And so talkative!
My sonny boy had not only flown the family nest, he was soaring! Thriving! Good grades, new friends, adapting well, having fun...Thank God!
And come to find out, he still needed me a little bit, evidenced by the duffle bag of dirty laundry that came home with him. We talked and laughed and reconnected. Heartstrings still intact, still sturdy, just different. Freeing. For both of us.
My mother-in-law said it best as we discussed Daniel's surprise visit home last weekend.
Daniel stopped by to see his beloved Grandma before we headed back down the road to Iowa City the following Sunday afternoon, and come to find out, they had had a wonderful, chatty chat.
"I think Daniel has matured two years in the three months he has been gone," she observed.
"Yes, and he's happy," I said. "He's definitely in his element in Iowa City. And we could not be happier for him."
Gee. Guess Daniel is not the only one who has done some growing up. And some letting go. Could it be that I'm beginning to feel my wings again, too?
It's been a gut-wrenching process for me, one that I do not wish to ever relive -- and I miss Daniel so very much -- but three months into The Empty Nest gig I can honestly say it's not so bad.
When you know your child is truly happy, it's all good.
I didn't even wince when we dropped him off at his dorm last Sunday night.