Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Beauty of the Here and Now, or My Catharsis from Children Going Away to College

Raising children is not only like a lot like herding cats, but it's also like trying to melt an iceberg with a hairdryer -- it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of effort, and by the time you're finished what you thought you had to begin with is not the end product. 

A child starts out being tiny and cute; they go through these awkward years and they become wonderful young adults.  And THEN, virtually overnight in some cases, this child, who you rocked to sleep countless nights, cleaned up his vomit, looked at the same wiggly tooth a hundred times, and watched their amazing pool handstands over and over,wants to hang out with his friends and do his own thing.  (And I use his as a generic term.)

How does this happen?  What goes on in the synapses of their brains?  I guess I did the same thing, but I was a lot more shallow and self-absorbed than any of my kids, even all my kids put together.  I only went away to college because I was dating someone fairly inappropriate and my parents wanted to put some distance between us.  Somehow they grow up, and this month I send my two oldest to college twelve and six hours away from home (respectively).

I can't lie; I am sad that they are leaving. But at the same time I see how talented and intelligent and charming and funny my kids are, and I wonder how they got this way, because it's easier to remember the mistakes I made than the good things I did -- like how I remember closing Matt's hand in the van door more than I remember making cupcakes for fifteen class birthday parties.

And then, like a ray of parent hope, there's that little flickering, brief, flash-of-a-moment where I see that my child is just like me. Maybe it's a look, or the way they tell a joke. Although each child is definitely going to go his own way, it's that little brief moment that reminds me that wherever they go, whatever they end up doing, they'll always carry a little part of me with them.  And that's good enough for me.