When she was very little, I used to say to my daughter, “Ok, bye, bye sweetheart. See you in a few hours” “See you tonight, honey.” “Wave bye, bye, sweetie.” It’s the oldest cliche in the world to say that time of her being so little has passed in the blink of an eye. I guess it’s a cliche because so, so many of us parents feel this way.
There is so much to write about now. My children, my own one daughter, and the few other young people who I consider most mine, are growing up. I’ve been lucky enough to have some wise parents give me the perspective that as a parent you don’t have to give up one bit on the deepest closeness with your children, ever. But the nature of it changes. In reality it is changing constantly– from the moment they roll over, or hold their own bottle, or start to walk. Part of our relationship now involves doing my least favorite thing over and over. Saying goodbyes.
They are a variety of different goodbyes, but they are goodbyes. Goodbyes where my daughter does things with friends that she used to want me with her to do, goodbyes as young people travel abroad, goodbyes that are small and feel monumental as their focus shifts away from us adults to their own friends, ideas, plans and things to do. If I could manage to stop and cry a little with each goodbye, I’d be happier and better off for sure, but I don’t yet have that down.
I started the week this very morning, with two goodbyes. My daughter’s good friend came over and they huddled talking and then went off to school together as she does most days now, with her friend, instead of spending those last few minutes before a long day hanging out with me in the morning.
And there was the big goodbye for now to my nephew, Izzie; the boy whose birth I was part of, the boy who goes to college in our town and then lived with us and worked in our city last summer. A boy who, along with his brother, is definitely part mine. We got a lot of him his freshman and sophmore years here, and then he was away for the first semester of this year. He studied in Ecuador. Then he came home to his own home in the midwest and got ready for his second semester. In a hopeful, exciting and cruel twist of choice and fate (I’m very tongue-in-cheek when I use the word cruel), he got into another program in a different far-away destination to study for his second semester. Again. To Israel this time.
He stopped in with us for four days plus this morning to visit his academic advisors and his friends (and did stay with us) before departing for his spring semester in Israel. Just three hours ago we helped him load his two just-under-50-pound-suitcases into the car. And my sweetheart took us both in the car, dropped me at work and drove on to the airport and helped him get checked in. My short trip in the car with him was so like this time of life. I sat in the back seat wedged in with his giant suitcases– looking at him. And he sat in the front seat looking ahead.
But my house was the home-base this morning– for Izzie as he finalized his packing, and for my daughter and her friend too, who often go to school together these days with the friend’s mom.
I count my blessings for busy, chaotic mornings like this one, with all of them getting ready to go but with my dining room table and extra bedroom still the home base. With beds and towels a very happy mess throughout the house.
The morning was too busy to snap pictures of either of them. I discovered my nearly-teen girl was in her sweatshirt and no jacket this 38-degree morning once it was too late to turn back and my tall string-bean boy, in his chinos and old farmer’s market tee shirt and fleece pullover and traveling gear. Both gorgeous and handsome, excited for what comes next.
Izzie, and daughter-girl, when you read this, take some selfies and send them on. I’ll post them later. And you too, jj, back home in the midwest…