Sometimes I have thoughts in my head before I go out walking at dawn, and by the time I return to the house I have replaced all previous thoughts with new ones. The air, the light, the scent on the breeze, the thousand little snapshots of the world that enter my brain through that amazing multi-sensory system that we carry around - all lead to a rapid evolution of thought.
I am filled to overflowing with contemplations on my role as mother - yesterday, last night, today. The incipient arrival of empty nest, really empty in the long term for the first time, takes over my mind now and again like a tidal wave of gloom. Yes - I understand from everyone that it will be GREAT in some ways. There are times when I get excited about the freedom and independence to pursue my own track, to really plunge into writing or music and working without the steady interruptions of somebody-needs-me-to-do-something.
But - it is that somebody-needs-me-to-do-something that has sustained me for over 23 years. How do I make that shift to nobody-really-needs-anything-from-me? From the time I sat perplexed by the responsibility of my first baby, I was at least secure in the comfort of seeing a clear path before me. My job was clear, my duties defined.
I studied Spanish, I did some teaching, I wrote, I took classes, I exercised, I worked on music in multiple forms, I sat on committees and did volunteer work -- but, everything else was something to fit in on the side while I worked at my primary occupation. If someone asked, "What do you do?" I had to answer, "I'm a mom."
Motherhood has sustained me, inspired me, fulfilled me like nothing else ever has. I feel an ache of grief, a hollow pain of emptiness at the prospect of relegating the job to the sidelines.
I am fighting the inclination to cling. Since clinging has never been my way, it is not difficult. My clinging is almost entirely internal (although the cat's out of the bag now, since my children read my blog). My own mother gave me lessons in the highest form of non-clinging mom, so I am well equipped to put up a good front.
Certainly I will find all kinds of doors and windows to open. Projects are constantly growing in the back of my mind, things I can't wait to get started on, as soon as I have the time and space. It is the presence of my children that thwarts all resolve to separate. I am nearly useless when they are around, since I only want to hover in their presence, drink in their being, before they are gone again. I am an addict.
Yesterday I got my mother fix nicely, even though three of the connections were made by phone - a promising thing for the future.
Sons, in my experience, are not big fans of shopping. I, in fact, am not a big fan of shopping, but have appreciated outings with my daughters to buy back to school outfits or something new for spring. But yesterday I talked my son into allowing me to take him to town for some apparel.
"I have plenty of clothes. Why would I need more clothes? My drawers are full!" The hook was athletic shoes - that's something he can't deny he actually needs, since it is all he ever wears on his feet. Off we went to the mall region. Once he was well-shod for the year I asked about dressy clothes and got him to admit that he might be lacking in that department.
Three and half hours of shopping with my only boy is probably a once in a lifetime event - quite astonishing really. But in spite of my achy feet, it was a wonderful day.
In the evening I got a phone call from my older two daughters, just launched on the road for their 2 1/2 day western road trip. "Mom, what is this song we have stuck in our heads?..." and they proceeded to sing some nonsense about the beautiful moon, a relic from distant childhood. "Did you make that song up?" they asked me, full of laughter. Yes indeed, I did. There I was with them in the car, as they sped westward, laughing, looking up at the moon. Pretty nice.
But I'm saving the best for last.
As I sat next to S. at the breakfast table yesterday morning, we got a phone call from T in the car on her way to work. She was hysterically crying on the telephone and my entire system went into full alert.
"Sweetheart, are you all right?" More crying, unintelligible sobbing words. I picked up something about a truck. She's been in an accident, I thought. Stay calm, calm her down.
"I'm FINE." I was finally able to decipher that much. More crying, more jumble of spewed words in a garble.
"Your CAR was hit by a truck, Honey?" I asked? It was kind of like a parlor game...sounds like? how many syllables? Brother S., sitting beside me with a bowl of Wheat Chex, raised his eyebrows at that, since T was driving his car.
"No!" more sobs, something like "It was so horrible!" Then again, something about "hit by a truck."
Oh no, I thought. What a traumatic thing! Poor T! "You saw a WOMAN get hit by a truck!?" I said with great sympathy.
Finally T was able to articulate the enlightening words: "NO!! A SQUIRREL!!"
Ah - okay. "You saw a squirrel get hit by a truck." I stated for S's benefit.
At that point I looked at my son next to me and had to move the mouthpiece of the phone away while I indulged in fits of muffled laughter. I pulled myself together, got her to pull over to the side of the road, talked her down.
Poor T. She is a sensitive soul, and a wildly heart-filled lover of animals. To see a sweet little living thing get wiped out mid-stride so violently is quite shocking. On the other hand, it would not do to be so undone by what can only be called a minor trauma. I was rather severe with her, once she had calmed down a bit, about getting a hold of herself. "Keep your head about you" was a favorite line of her grandfather's, which her own dad uses all the time as well. This was a good time to remind her of the phrase. Once I had her laughing over the sequence of emotional shifts she provided for her brother and me at the breakfast table, I felt okay about saying good-bye and sending her on her way to work.
And my work too, it would appear, is not yet done. I may be leaving the full time position, but I suppose I will continue as a part time consultant indefinitely.
I had to include these shots of an unusual sighting in the back yard. This was not a familiar part of the daily sights and sounds, and raised some questions in my mind...but it did not turn me for long from my dominant thoughts.