Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Birth Day

If you want, you can add my personal soundtrack for this post by opening the video in my previous post.  Sometimes a good cry is just what I need.

I am quickly approaching the anniversary of the labor and birth of my second...and last baby.  It began 15 years ago today at 2:00pm. My son was born tomorrow, early in the morning at 5:50am, he arrived into my husbands hands at our home in Redmond, Washington under the support and direction of our beloved midwife, Christine Thain.  The concept of 15 years is truly incomprehensible. I have been emotional all day today.  This coming of age, latter teen years is a process of detachment and pulling and pushing and letting go that is definitely not my personal forte in parenting.  If I give it any thought at all, I am literally in physical pain about it.  My chest tightens and my eyes well up with tears.  I can't believe sometimes that parents that have gone before me, have been able to do this.  I ask my Mom and Dad "How did you do this?, How does anyone do this?" all the time.
Now, I still have my two kids at home, they "keep the couch from floating away" as my honey credits them.  They go out to FroYo together, they will still hug me and make eye contact with me when we talk.  They still need me...though they won't admit it.  They still need guidance, that's different than means you have to have the mental control to talk to your teen in a way that makes them feel respected and trusted by their standards, not yours (not always easy to ascertain), while still managing to get the information to them that you need them to have, but they have to think that they thought of it.  There's a reason why people start to go to bed earlier as they get's exhausting, the mental energy.  And yet the idea of not having to spend it, is unfathomable.  The idea that I will be in my early-mid forties with an empty nest sounds pretty nice to the naked ear. Our friends who traveled in their youth who are starting to raise their children now, probably think they we almost have it made.  On the surface it looks like we have time to work in our yard and make it pretty, and our floors aren't littered with battery operated, noisy toys.  There is an unexpected trade that they can't conceive of yet. Some friends and I went over to another friends house last year, who has two grown sons.  Their house is beautiful, everything is just right.  It's clean, decorated, classy, warm, friendly, artistic.  As we entered, the customary compliments were offered.
Her response?  "It's too quiet."  It hit me like a ton of bricks.
I've realized that I'm balancing on a fulcrum.
And that is just how it feels.  It tips in both directions, up and down, on both sides and it never quite feels solid under foot.
My children are not children, and yet I still have them for a short time. I know how short the time is, but they don't.  I know how valuable the time is, they don't.  Time seems like it's standing still for them, teenage time, the countdown to perceived freedom. I remember it.  I can only dream of that now, time feeling like it's slow or standing still.  My oldest is going to be a legal adult in six short months and by that time my youngest will presumably have his drivers permit and will begin to distance himself from me for all the reasons he should, he needs to, I need him to, it doesn't make it feel good.
Like every other process in life, birth for example, there are built in processes that are a force of nature.  For example, a pregnant woman has to wake up several times a night, to use the bathroom, turn over to shift the weight of the baby onto the other hip etc.  It feels like a nuisance at the time, but if we had to transition to be awakened many times a night with a newborn without having gone through this training period, our patience would be short, it would be harder to awaken from a deep REM cycle to the sounds of newborn hunger signs.  This is a similar process, If my kids sat on the sofa and cuddled up with me until the day they moved out I think I might crumble into a million pieces.  If we sat together for meals every night and they hadn't created a circle of friends that they went out with and shopped with and traveled with, the idea of them being out their on their own would be too much.  If my husband and I didn't have the time to go for walks and have a quiet house from time to time, the silence might deafen us.  I need it, and it's the hardest thing I've gone through as a parent so far.
I don't mean to sound like the cliche...cherish every minute and the like.  I have had my share of un cherished moments.  Every stage has it's challenges and it's joys, including this one.  I know that the next one will too.  For me personally though, this is the hardest so far.  I just love them so much.  I've had 15 and 17 years, respectively, to grow in love with them.  The photo's of them as small children aren't just "cute"or "precious" to me.  Those words are the real cliche'.  They are haunting, if truth be told.  I long to hold that child again, kiss him in that little spot where his tiny nose fit right in the curve of my chin and it felt like a puzzle when I kissed him between his eyes.  I want to feel the heavy contentedness of her asleep in my arms and watch her sleep with those long eyelashes and her little fingers twirling my hair.  I can't. When I look at them now, there are still shadows of those precious moments for me.  They catch me staring and say "Mom, why are you staring at me?" in their teenage tone.  I know I can't explain it, so I just give them a compliment and move on.  "I like your hair like that", or "I like that outfit".  When I miss the child, it seems like it makes them feel guilty for changing and growing or something, and they don't understand yet how I can grieve the loss of the child while still cherishing and adoring the son and daughter right in front of me. There is nothing to be done about it anyway, it's just where I am right now.

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