Saturday, December 31, 2011
BEFORE THE TIDE RUSHES IN...
Time it was, oh, what a time it was, it was...
For me, it was a time of major change, a seismic shift in my parenting paradigm.
In fact, if I had to give this past year a name, I would tag it, "The Year of Letting Go." Or, to be perfectly honest, "The Year of Freeing Daniel From My Steely, Over-Protective Grasp".
Foremost on my mind, 24/7, from Jan. 1 through May 23, was, of course, Daniel's upcoming high school graduation. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of impending loss. It was four months of "lasts". Daniel's last Dessert Theatre. Daniel's last spring concert. Daniel's last day of his senior year. My one and only Sonny Boy was soon to be leaving home. Cue the sack cloth and ashes, the gnashing of teeth. On and on and on I mourned. And not quietly, mind you.
Foremost on my mind, 24/7, from May 23 through August. 17, was Daniel's upcoming departure for college. "I've got all summer with him," I'd silently console myself. But I was wrong. His friends had all summer with him. Anyway I looked at it, all I could see was Daniel constantly distancing himself from me -- a normal emotional progression at this time in a young man's life, and I knew that (during my more rational moments, few that there were). But most days it was impossible for me to accept.
It is so clear now, looking back. Daniel was a short-timer in this mom's navy, ready to set sail on his own. We butted heads. We were both cranky and, quite frankly -- I think Daniel would agree -- we annoyed the hell out of each other most of the summer.
Yes, it was time for him to shove off. He knew it. I knew it. I knew he knew I knew it, and it was clear I didn't like it. But there was nothing I could do about it but buy him college stuff. Sheets. Laundry basket. Shower shoes. It took a small fortune...but he had everything he needed for his dorm room.
Then, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the van was packed and we were headed down the highway, bound for Iowa City. THE GREAT UNKNOWN. My life, it seemed, was unravelling mile marker by mile marker.
I can think of only one other time that our house felt so empty, so void of life, as it did when we got back from Iowa City, sans Daniel, that night. The stillness was deafening.
Foremost on my mind, then, from Aug 17 thru Aug. 24, was emotional survival. It was, perhaps -- for me, anyway -- one of the longest, most difficult weeks of 2011.
From August. 24 thru Oct. 24 (my birthday), I immersed myself in thoughts of anything but what Daniel might possibly be doing at college besides studying. I cannot tell you precisely how I slogged through those two months (like the pain of childbirth, the details do fade with time), but I did. I can tell you that it was disturbingly reminiscent of me breaking up with an old boyfriend (don't call him, leave him alone, let him live his life) -- which was never my strong suit.
But I digress.
Suffice to say, thanks to my Facebook obsession, working two jobs, the love of family and friends, and regular calls/texts from Daniel, I slowly but surely began to rediscover and live my own life and let go of trying to steer and protect Daniel's.
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be."
Even now, just writing that, I cry.
Daniel surprised me with a visit home the following weekend, but even more surprising was that we spent a couple hours, not just a couple minutes, talking and laughing. We got along swimmingly. It was as if we were both seeing each other in a brand new, more interesting light.
The cranky, ready-to-bolt high school senior that I was loathe to leave on a crowded college campus last August, had, in the interim, morphed into a smiling, appreciative, delightful conversationalist who was, come to find out, having fun at college, yes, but getting good grades. And apparently he still loved his mom (who had also done a bit of growing up, ahem), and he still needed me, evidenced by, if nothing else, the humongous pile of laundry sitting on my kitchen floor.
Since October, I have come to relish the inner calm I feel knowing that Daniel is, above all else, happy. It is obvious he is in his element in Iowa City. He is thankful for the opportunity to follow his film-making dream. His laughter fills my heart. Letting go gave both of us a new lease on life.
Hence, perhaps for the first New Year's Eve in seemingly forever, I am thinking that the past year of my life, while not a total beach, has not been a total bitch, either. Would you believe it? Right now, in the final hours of 2011, I am smiling. All things considered, it's been a good year.
Yes, I know. The New Year ship is docked just around the beach's bend, its flag of unknown and uncontrollable life events about to unfurl. But I insist on basking in the slow, warm, assuring waves of 2011 if only for but a few more glorious hours before the tempestuous 2012 tide rushes in...