First comes the easy stuff...diapers and food mills, naps and first steps.
It gets harder once kindergarten begins. You must relinquish them to a stranger and a class full of mostly good kids but a few nincompoops who will worry you.
Then they get older but they're still around. Middle school means more complications, of course. Their world expands as do your worries. High school is a nightmare for all involved. Hair becomes an issue. Pimple creams go on the shopping list (for me, my skin breaks out when I'm stressed).
You see less of them and you hate that but they're still here. Home. Mostly.
Then college steals them from you. Suddenly you find yourself pretending that you are going to pursue other interests but you are really panicking because you have none. Your interests are two big galoots who now have lives of their own.
You try hard to get used to this. You don't cry (mostly) when they call. You pretend to be thrilled at things that make your stomach hurt and your blood pressure sky rocket. You console yourself with aimless trips to Target where you find yourself in the men's department buying them underwear and shirts.
Then they graduate and move away. Now is the time to summon every shred of your ability to not threaten to hold your breath until you turn blue until they come home and let you make them grilled cheese sandwiches again.
And then the lousy bastards get jobs. This completely changes the playing field. Things you took for granted as your rights as a mother are now things you must negotiate.
Using a voice you don't recognize, you say things like: "Oh, do you think Dad and I could come down for your birthday this year or have you planned some sort of
When they're in school, you technically own rights to their birthdays. But things change.
In any case, how will my mettle be tested now, you ask? Do you mean after 26 years of a series of small but constant goodbyes (have a nice day at school, at baseball camp, at your friend's for the weekend, at your new apartment, at your own totally separate life)?
Well, Charlie is coming home for a week and I am going to have to behave myself since he will begin a new job at the end of the month.*
This means an end to lazy, extended vacations where he still (kind of) belonged to me.
It also means an end to subsidizing rent, phone bills and car insurance so Seth and I may actually now have enough money for a toothpick and an ice cube.
It also means that I have to contain my nostalgic ranting when I look at all six foot three of him and, instead, see the two and a half foot version with that smile and those dimples -- he still has those things -- and the hand ready to be held as we cross the street.
He still has the hand, too but it's used more to prevent me from running into traffic now.
But this week, I will make the most of it (read that as: get a hold of more seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and watch them with Charlie) and celebrate this next phase of parenting.
Or, will I behave badly and be a clinging hysteric who drives him away sooner than expected? That kind of thing is always a crap shoot around here.***
*the girls my sons have dated have all been lovely, adorable young women but calling them crack whores gave me a really good laugh this morning.
** in reality, I am neither stupid nor ungrateful enough to be anything but overjoyed that my son was able to find work after college.
***This, of course, applies to you to, Tom. When did you say you were coming home for the weekend, again?