Thursday, August 4, 2011

How It Is

Funny how they grow, how they disappear into their lives full of friends and activities and the first flutter of romance and they barely ever glance over their shoulder, so occupied are they in becoming. And the parents, the ones made like me, we stand here, feeling the loss of them even though we know this is how it works, how it is supposed to work, we can't hold on much as we might wish to. Perhaps sons leave more completely, I don't know. Or perhaps they leave only for a while, and when they are fully who they are, when we have stopped needing and expecting and wishing, they can come around again, they can forge something new.

I am struggling to accept what is. You'd think I'd have come to terms by now. Lord, I am a slow one. It's just that when he comes home from working all summer, he will have just one week before school starts, and his girlfriend and another friend will be staying here, too, and I will go to work and leave them all sleeping each morning, and come home and find them all gone, or if I find them home they will be occupied fully with one another and their friends, and then he will take the bus up to his college on the Friday of that week while we are at work. We will drive up the next day with our daughter and our niece, who attends the same school, carting his stuff and hers, but by then he will have disappeared into his life at school, indeed he is going up early because he and his friends are all attending a concert that afternoon, and I am sitting here thinking how little they know, how much they cannot fathom what it would mean to simply share that five hour drive north, to hear the stories from summer spill out easily the way they can on a road trip, to have him for just that little bit of time, before releasing him again to his life.

It is 4 a.m. and I am awake in the most emotional part of the night. This is when the tears fall. When I held him as a baby already squirming to discover everything around him, I never knew our time would go so fast or that this releasing would be so hard. I think there is such a thing as feeling too much. I think I'm missing the switch that other people have that lets them modulate. Or maybe this is just how it is for some of us. We swallow the ache. We smile and do. We pretend as hard as we can to let them go. And dear God, don't I sound pitiful. I should get some sleep. Maybe I'll delete this post in the morning.


  1. Angella, I've been watching my children,closely, over the Summer and they are changing before my eyes. You have to stop reminding me of how quickly they grow and are gone. You're freaking me out and I'm just starting my day.
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. You've raised beautiful children. Mission Accomplished! What's next? Or am I freaking you out now? m.

  2. It's a wonderful, emotional, loving post and I hope it stays up!!
    Unlike you, my friend, who should get some sleep.
    Sending lots of love ~

  3. please dont delete this. it is our song, the mothers' lament. we all feel it (i think you are right about the boys...); you sing it for us.

  4. Don't you dare delete this post. It's too heartfelt and way too true to yourself. I believe those same feelings we feel so peculiarly about - that they must be out of the ordinary, not the kinds of feelings other people experience - are the most genuine, the most true, and the ones that most unite us on a common ground where the human family comes together to celebrate and mourn.

    I know my father had feelings like yours with me as I moved from childhood to independence. He needn't have worried. He raised three sons who were never farther away from him than miles, and distance in space has no relationship to closeness in love. It is irrelevant.

    What matters is the love we gave and the love we give. The rest is straw.

  5. I'm glad you did not delete it. You need to be told that it all will be well- and it will.
    You just have to remember (says the woman who still struggles) that we birth and raise them to do exactly what your children are doing- to become autonomous adults on their own who leave the nest we have so carefully built and lined with the softest things we could find. Usually feathers plucked from our own breast if you want to get all sappy about it. Which I tend to do.
    It's a process. Both for them and for us.
    But a necessary one and honey, you have done so well.

  6. I can't properly comment, since my only child, like
    Elizabeth's Sophie, cannot go out into the world to make her own life. But what I've imagined, and what I've seen my own longtime friends experience, is a shift to exploration of new work as freeing and exciting and deep as what your kids are so eagerly embracing.

  7. I love this post and am glad you left it up.
    And yes you did raise responsible kids and it's wonderful that they get to experience the world, free of anxiety, which is I guess because they know that they can always turn to you and your husband should they need to.
    It doesn't change the fact that it'd be nice to spend time with them, but believe me, as they get older, spending time with you will be more of a priority.

  8. Your boy is beautiful. Damn he is.

    Angella. This made me cry. I love your writing and love the gazelle-like photo you used to illustrate him running strong and free. Like some of the others, I am not there yet. But I am a daughter and this made me cry because I think of my young selfish mind and ask myself how my parents must have felt. Oh my.

    But. You have done well and they love you. And this daughter knows that when you grow up loved and cherished, all roads lead to home. They always do.

  9. There cannot be love without sacrifice. To sacrifice is to suffer, to endure some loss. And you suffer for your family. But your anguish underscores your love and give it its integrity.

  10. This made me cry, too, and dread the day when my own sons "leave." But I remember, as well, the last day of preschool, the first day of kindergarten -- heck -- the weaning from the breast -- the knowledge that one would never hold another baby in one's arms that was all mine -- how I thought I would never get over that, always feel sad, etc. and then I wasn't. I imagine that as you shift into a new relationship with your son, while it won't ever be the same, what replaces it will also be rich. He's always, always be your baby and you'll always, always be his mama.

  11. Oh. Oh. I know this so well. We are in the same place. This is so beautiful.

    We are supposed to give them roots and wings right? So if we have done our job well, we should be happy to see them fly away. And we are, but it still aches in the middle of the night.

    I love Glenn's comment. So true.

  12. Dear Angella,
    They do come around again!
    I know it doesn't make the going any easier.

  13. thank you for this, angella. it's true to the bone. difficult when they leave difficult when they come back knowing they will leave again. like reverse birth.

  14. Beautiful post and wonderful photo. Too often I wish for the children to be onto the next phase and be even more independent. This has reminded me to ...slow down...and just enjoy them kicking the ball in the backyard.

  15. I'm so glad you didn't delete this post. It's such a great description of the pain parents feel as a child grows up -- a pain that I, as a non-parent, can't even conceive of.

    Everything always seems more severe at 4 a.m., doesn't it?!

  16. Last night, I received a call from my youngest who has been out all day. I had not seen her as I was down at our beach house and when she called, I was so happy to hear her sweet voice. But, quickly I realized that the call was made with very specific intentions about something she wanted permission to do, and instead of a light and loving conversation, it was short, not satisfying and when I hung up i felt sad, I was folding laundry and so as I continued to do so, I spoke a pretend conversation out loud of how I would have liked for things to have gone. Since I was home alone, I played both parts. I told her how lovely it was for her to call just to say hello and that is was nice of her to call just to see what I was doing. The tone was relaxed, fun and without any sense of "Mom, I have to go!" Not only did I end up knowing that I would have responded much better to that type of call, but I think she would have felt better, too. I don't know, maybe not.

    Thank you for letting this post remain. I feel your words so deeply and it is so comforting to know that there is another momma out in the world tonight, who breathes certain wishes into the Universe the way that I often do. Sigh...

    Love and healing hugs,

  17. Oh dear. While my youngest is getting ready to fly the coop next week, my son is back home looking for a job. I make him breakfast and lovingly do his laundry. I trip over his shoes and ask him every day what he wants for dinner. I smile as he sings his way through the house, hitting walls and playfully tussling with the dog. He pretty much rules the roost. But that girlfriend thing.....I haven't had to deal with that yet.....that scares me silly! Oh my!


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