Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ch Ch Changes

No, I'm not giving a political party convention speech. I'm just talking about the changes that have come about in my life lately. Big changes. For 18 1/2 years, I've been a mother. I've taken care of my oldest daughter with delight and love. She's blessed our home with her light and her music. She's had a gentle way with her younger brothers and sisters. And now she's gone to college.

I've been thrilled for her as she set her college goals and reached them. She not only got accepted to BYU (where I went), but also got a 4 year full-tuition scholarship as well as enough local scholarships to pay for her dorm housing (which is not cheap! So a big PHEW on that!) She barely got into the dorms (my dorms 26 years ago) and got to meet her roommate on-line before-hand. It was fun to see her plan and prepare.

When the time came for her to drive away, however, it was tough. Really tough. Sobbingly tough. We drove her an hour north to meet another family who took her to college. The timing didn't work for us to make the 16 hour drive, so we were grateful she could go with them. (Plus they are a TON of fun, so that added to her college entrance adventure). But when I walked back in our door after the drive up to their house, the space that she left in our home was immense. It was rough. I had a whole new appreciation for anyone who has lost a family member. I don't know how they can handle the grief.

This eventually trickled off. I was able to share my loss with a few friends. It was nice to hear their words of experience. I paused from time to time, realizing the changes coming about in our lives -- the closing of one chapter and the opening of some others. This is always a tough thing for me. It's also exciting and joyful.

A week later, my youngest son started Kindergarten. He could have entered last year. In California the entrance deadline is early December and his birthday is late November. But he never would have sat still. It would have been frustrating for him and his teacher (even though he could read and was ready in that respect). He's been waiting a long time. He was raring to go! It was a celebration for all of us because we knew how excited he was -- plus it's a milestone for him and our family.

This is the first time I've had an empty home (not counting my husband who works from home) since my oldest daughter was born -- as I mentioned before, 18 1/2 years. My youngest son is only gone till noon, but there's a new sense of freedom in those morning hours that's really nice to have. It's peaceful. I can think without interruption and just get things done on my own. It's definitely a change.

What is it that Meg Ryan says in "You've Got Mail?" (It's actually the character, Kathleen Kelley, who's saying it :)) She says, "People always say that change is a good thing, but what it really means is that something that you didn't want to happen, has happened." That's probably true.

Perhaps in my case, it's not that I didn't want it to happen exactly, I just wasn't ready for it to happen just yet. My baby is growing up and going to Kindergarten on his own. My first baby is growing up and has left our home to start college on her own. When she used to walk from our Vanagon to her Kindergarten class, I'd watch her with her big puffy pink coat trying to hold onto her homework folder and lunch pail. And I'd say to my other children, "She's so big and she's so little." I've thought that throughout her life. I've thought that about my other children.

Now I hold my younger children a bit longer. I look into their eyes a bit deeper. I try to relish each opportunity I have with them in our home because I've learned first hand what it feels like to have one leave. I knew it was normal for it to happen when I left and when someone leaves from another family. But when it happened with MY little girl, it didn't feel normal or nice. It was quite sad.

I can't end with a sad note though. There are many joys as I watch my children grow -- even as I watch them leave. I heard a song this weekend about parenthood. We could always get in the way and protect our children, but then they wouldn't be able to grow. So we let them go and they grow. We grow as well.

I just have to add that I have this affinity for "You've Got Mail" -- stay tuned -- I've been planning a whole post on it in my head. Once I get the chance, you'll be reading about it (whether you like it or not :)). TTFN!


  1. How very poignant, Renee. That was a nice account of what us boomers and boomer wannabes are starting to confront, and it touches home. Thanks for being brave enough to go first and have the oldest children. The phases in life aren't easy to move between, for sure. You kind of get attached to the status quo. But I guess we have to let them grow up just as we did, dang it. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives...

  2. It's so funny you mentioned the sands through the hourglass because I was just quoting that to my kids a week or so ago (when that show was coming on TV and I was about to turn it OFF :)). I told them how gma and gpa used to watch it every day. But I didn't really stop to think about what the sands or the days meant. This time, I did.