Transitions are happening all around me. The weather, school starting, our oldest daughter leaving for college, my body, my life…. I can’t help but think of Stevie Nicks Landslide. She must have been in her 40s when she wrote that song. Can I sail through the changing ocean’s tide, can I handle the seasons of my life ? Her lyrics and melody capture every aspect of what it is like to be a wife, mother, daughter, woman at mid life. Complicated, exhausted, wise, reflective, and uncertain of what life holds next. I have always loved this song but appreciate it beyond words in this moment, in this season.
This past Sunday morning we had Caleb, Amelia’s boyfriend of almost 3 years, over for traditional Sunday waffles as a chance to wish him well as he heads off to college in Vancouver . We are incredibly proud of him as it has been a goal of his to play baseball at the college level; he has made this dream come true. I knew that Amelia and Caleb had been going through the emotional rollercoaster of saying their good-byes but was caught off guard when he walked into our kitchen with blood shot eyes, splotchy cheeks, and tears streaming down his face. “Oh Caleb, come here.” I said bringing him in like my own to comfort him.
I never realized my daughter’s boyfriend would become like a son to me, but it happened. Their friendship started off so innocently. Frosting Christmas cookies together, going to the movies and hanging out on Sundays. But then their relationship grew, inevitably hitting a few bumps, big bumps; but they held on tight and became even stronger, even closer. I started looking forward to his visits and always made sure we had enough skittles in the snack drawer. Before I knew it, I cared deeply for Caleb as well as the bond he and Amelia had created.
They both painfully know they are too young to make a life long promise. They both realize that they need to spread their wings for a little while before they can contently circle back to the nest. It is just way easier said than done. Before I knew it, little Elle wanted in on the hug too … and Amelia joined in along with us. “This is not the end, you are a part of our family Caleb, and always will be. I consider you to be like a son to me.” Ugggh. This is so hard. No one ever warned me “this” was included in the “Mother Package” that I so willingly signed up for 19 years ago. What was I fucking thinking ? After we finished breakfast, Tim and Caleb loaded up an old futon couch and television from our basement we rarely use and gave it to Caleb for his new chapter in life. One last hug and we waved good bye as he and Amelia walked out to his car to say their good byes.
Amelia is not the only one in our little family going through significant changes. Charlie our baby, made it his 13th birthday wish to “re-do” his bedroom. Sunday we spent the better part of the afternoon putting his room back together after we had the Denver Bronco blue and orange painted over with a “mature” tan at Charlie’s request. I offered to paint it Seahawk colors in an effort to keep things “balanced and fair” but he was not having it. I don’t blame him, time to move on…. He wanted tan.
It has been a while I dare say, since I have spent any length of time in his bedroom. In general, I try to avoid the basement area where Amelia and Charlie co habitate. Not only is it out of my “loop” but it is not my favorite thing to walk through their shared disaster zone. Sorting and reconfiguring was long over due. First it was a matter of arranging the bed, desk, and dressers followed by going through all the drawers of clothing that are past their prime. Next it was the top shelf of his closet. Stuffed animals and old blankets were folded neatly and tucked away. I spied his baby blanket and reached for it right away immediately time traveling back to the days when I carried him on my hip and fed him rice cereal. Sky blue fabric as soft as bunny fir bordered with a wide white satin trim; I swear I could still smell the spilled rice cereal and A&D ointment.
I treasure those early days. The days when your baby giggles as you softly tickle him under his chin, the way he rests his sweaty head on your chest after waking up from an afternoon nap. “What are you doing mom ?” Charlie asked bringing me quickly back to the here and now.” “Why are you burying your face in that old blanket?” he asked. “This is your baby blanket Charlie, don’t you remember it ?” ( Please tell me you remember all those long gazes we shared, all those tender moments when I rocked you to sleep, all those times we went on short walks around the neighborhood looking for acorns and other signs of Fall) “Oh ya, sort of…” he replied. “Don’t ever throw this blanket away Charlie, it is a keep sake. Got it ? ” I said with complete certainty. “I hear you mom, ok.” he replied.
After a few hours, we managed to sort out all the stuffed animals, old pajamas, and match box cars. Presently, his tan painted bedroom includes a table with a lamp where framed pictures sit of he and his closest friends at Hoopfest and a picture of him holding the fish he caught at Priest Lake this past summer. There is also a desk with a lap top and a laminated map of the San Juan Islands tacked above. It suits who he has become without me even realizing it. Charlie is more like Charles now.
Then there is Elle, she is now a Saxon at Ferris HS. We spent an hour or so at freshman orientation this morning. Over all, we had a positive experience at orientation but the details I will save for another day. The best part of our morning was the drive through Cool Beans… One raspberry Italian cream soda for Elle and one Extra Large cold brew a little heavy on the cream please. Therapy comes in all forms right ?
Times are changing, the kids are getting older, we are getting older. I can feel it. It is in the way my life is taking new shape, it is when I no longer look down but up to see my childrens’ eyes, it is in the salt and peppered 5 o’clock shadow my husband sports, it is in the way I feel flushed through out the month, it is in the way I marvel at the young woman Amelia has become… it is in every single way … every single cell. And I hope and pray that I will be able to sail through this season intact and content.