It’s been a weird month with lots of comings and goings. During the last week of April, my family members went in all different directions, and I was left here at home. Patrick was away on a business trip; Hubby was away on business. Hubby came home, then Patrick came home (he lives just a mile away). William was home for 36 hours and took his girlfriend to Prom, then caught the shuttle back to college to study for finals. Eve was working her job and packing to move, then she was in Spain with friends for more than two weeks. She came home and was in town less than 24 hours before she packed up her little car to drive up the mountain and report up north for her new job.
All of these comings and goings are hard on a mom. When someone is leaving, I worry and fuss over them, wanting to lessen their load by helping with luggage, travel snacks, copies of passports. “Is there anything else I can do?” I ask (too many times, which I’m sure is annoying). And then while they’re away, I worry that some terrible thing has happened. I wake with a start at 3:10 am—did something happen to Eve in Spain? I’ve heard about people getting a chill, waking at odd times, somehow knowing when a loved one is in trouble.
But the most torturous part of comings and goings are the returns: I’m filled with anticipation and can’t wait to see my peeps. One recent Friday, William finally arrives and is here for two minutes before he’s whisked away by his friends, me barely getting a minute to give him a hug and notice he needs a haircut. Especially deflating was the day Eve returned from Spain. I knew her flight was landing at 9, so I was happily cleaning the house and had favorite “Eve foods” in the fridge. I kept looking at my phone and at the front door. I was positively GIDDY! Her flight was late, and she texted when she landed. Ruby and I nervously watched the driveway through the front shutters, and finally at 1:30 I texted, where are you? She’d gone to her boyfriends and it wasn’t until evening that she came by for a short while. I felt ridiculous—she is 21 and of course she wants to be with friends. Expectations are everything—why haven’t I learned that lesson yet? That was supposed to be the best day ever, and instead it was a terrible day for me . . . and I have yet to hear the complete travel report about Spain.
Of course part of all of this is I am grumpy to be left behind. I’m a big baby about that. Picture me sitting in my quiet house, the only interruptions being the occasional cat fight, or Ruby barking out the window at dogs walking by, or maybe the ring of the phone with people wanting to sell me solar panels or home security systems. I sit on the couch reading a novel, occasionally looking up at the front living room window, sighing dramatically. Then I remind myself to plant my own garden, to decorate my own soul, to seek out friends when the house is too quiet.
But mostly what’s hard these days is the missing of my kids being here at our house with us. I want to see their faces, I want to hear their stories, I want to laugh with them over some silly thing, I want to eat a meal with them, listen to a favorite song together.
I read this poem and understood exactly what Tyler Knott Gregson meant (though I think he wrote it thinking not of his children, but of his wife):
I will miss you
even in the moments
when you are right
and I do not think
it is a weed
that will ever stop
It will always live there,
but my god
it grows the most
This is the life lesson I’m trying to learn right now: To accept the comings and goings and instead of being angsty and demanding and an obligation to my grown children, I want to be a calm wise thoughtful person—a person my children want to return to to share their stories. I’m so proud of all three of them, and I’m happy for all their adventures. I want to be peaceful and patient and serene, knowing deep down in my heart my children will return to me when they are able. Like in the children’s book, The Runaway Bunny, I want to be the tree they fly home to.