Monday, August 28, 2017

Senior Year...and Sayonara!

“Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.”
― Erma Bombeck

Thing 1 stares into the future

I am ready for the end.

A few nights ago, a Band Mom sat next to me at the band banquet and bemoaned, "I am just so sad that this is the last year."

I looked over at her between bites of brownie, shrugged and said, "Let's get this OVER WITH.  I am READY for it to be DONE."

She looked at me, slightly horrified and then laughed nervously.  As if she knew I didn't really mean it.  But here's the dirty secret:  I am done.  Finished. Party over.  Let's move on.

OhMyGosh, I haven't taught him everything.  I mean, he still will often wash his whites with his colors.  I don't know if he'll ever get a job.  I don't know if he can DO THIS. 

Today Thing 1 entered his senior year of high school.  I have not yet booked his senior pictures.  We haven't finished touring colleges.  He JUST took the SAT.  I'm not quite sure if he's even INTERESTED in life beyond high school (nor, to be frank, is he actually interested in life at high school).  His life as he knows it is morphing into something completely different.

And I'm ready.

I'm not ready.

I know it's not say that you're done with parenting.  But I'm TIRED.  See, I never really knew that I had to worry about homework, teacher notes, whether or not the guidance counselor even knows who my kid is or why everything has to be so HARD for a kid who doesn't fit into the mold.  Actually, let me make that a little clearer:  I don't know why everything has to be so hard for the PARENTS of a kid who doesn't fit into the mold.

But, God forgive me, there are times that I long desperately for that rule-follower kid (you've met them) who does all the homework and turns it in and inspires a smile on teacher faces.  Sometimes, I am so tired of the everyday battle of just getting him to do the bare minimum.

I'm ready for 18.  I'm ready for next steps.  I'm ready for that little bird to fly out of the nest and test those wings that I've been helping him to strap on for the last 17 years.  I'm thrilled about graduation.  I'm ready to be a half-empty-nester.

I'm terrified he won't find his way.  I'm overcome with worry about whether or not he'll shower or properly use his alarm clock or wash his socks.  I'm worried that he'll be...lost.  My paranoia often manifests itself with a vision of an unshaven, unkempt 42-year-old sitting on my couch playing video games and eating Cheetos.  

I've never mourned the passing of time.  I don't wish he was a squirming, pudgy little guy anymore.  I don't miss breastfeeding and diaper-changing and waking up at 5 am to blearily load the Toy Story DVD in hopes of catching another half-hour of shuteye.  I was not sorry to see elementary school go and I was absolutely thrilled to wave goodbye to middle school.

But I sometimes wish for those simpler times when he didn't question my judgment and when the consequences for actions weren't so...high.  I hope that he doesn't regret not going to the junior prom.  I hope he doesn't wish that he had signed up for yearbook staff/the school paper/insert name of club here.  Did I encourage him enough?  Was I supportive enough?  Did I nag too much?

I swear that I did the best I could with the tools I had.  I was as engaged as I possibly could be without inserting myself into every aspect of his life.

I let him have too much screen time.  I am too emotional/inconsistent/crazy/uninvolved.

He's going to be absolutely fine with the next steps.

What if he fails?

He'll make this year work.  He'll rise to the occasion and he'll get those college applications turned in and, finally, he did take the SAT.  He will pass all of his courses this year.

What if he fails?

 I'm so proud of who my son is.  He is kind and caring and more than enough of all of those things that make character shine.  He is so bright and so funny. 

Will he be taken advantage of?  Will this be enough?  Can he find the motivation he needs?  The hardness?  The tenacity?  Will he roll over and give up or does he have the strength to make a way in this hard, cold world?

He's a senior.  He's at the edge of the nest.  And he will learn to fly.

The end.

And the beginning...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ode to the Chateau Graphite

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author's Note: Pronounciation of Chateau Graphite:  Shat-OH Gra-FEET (like the French, right?  Hush, it's TOTALLY LIKE THE FRENCH.)

This weekend, we said goodbye to a friend.  As the friend slowly moved out of the driveway, I felt a wave of emotion wash over me.  We had done so much...seen so much...weathered so much, really.  But the friend was destined for new things and different experiences with new friends. And so, we parted ways.

Obviously, I'm not referring to a real, flesh-and-blood person but the Fleetwood Graphite Pop-up Travel Trailer.  That pop-up has been there for so many of my face-aching-from-smiling, side-splitting happy moments over the last several years.

  • It was there for a tequila-laden day that bled into night when we listened to music, swapped stories and waited for our chicken to fry in the howling wind.  We took a magical wintry walk through the snow-covered forest and returned to the warmth of the cozy pop-up.  That weekend, we were the only (foolish?) campers to brave the weather in the Grayson Highlands.
  • We spent that one weekend just...sleeping.  We were so exhausted from just living our lives that we slipped away to Stone Mountain State Park and slept.  We didn't even hike that weekend...we just took a short walk and returned to the pop-up for another nap.  It was a welcome relief from the demands that reality forced on us at that time.
  • There was the time when we hosted our non-camping friends in Hot Springs.  We shared wine and laughter but, we found out later, did not share the love of the camping experience.  One of our crew found the entire thing distasteful with cold showers and dreary weather.  But she later decided to give us a second chance anyway in more hospitable conditions...and without the pop-up.  She is one of the people we love best in the world now.
  • Then there was the time when we saw other people heading out early from the campground.  We shrugged and proceeded with our dinner. The next morning, with tent poles collapsed and easy-up shelters along with our dishes blown askew and a mix of snow/sleet coming out of the sky, we realized our mistake.  We gathered up the shrapnel as quickly as we could, ushered the kids into the warmth of the pop-up and had bagels before making our getaway with our gear a little worse for wear.
  • The pop-up was a central figure as base camp for our wedding this April.  We gathered a few close friends and family members into a camping circle and said our vows.  Appropriately enough, we retired to our little pop-up, exhausted but happy and certain we'd taken the right step for our future.
  • We traveled cross-country with Things 1 and 2 in the pop-up.  By the end of two weeks, we were a well-oiled machine of handle-cranking, window-zipping, slideout-pulling, bed-making people.  We slept in that pop-up in Tennessee, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.  It was a great place to rest our weary heads in the city, in the plains, on a high mesa and near the Grand Canyon.  

It's funny how much an inanimate object can become a part of your personal lore and even, perhaps just a little, become enmeshed with who you your core.  This pop-up was a part of our falling-in-love story.  And it showed us how much we share the love of the Great Adventure and how much we want to carry that impetus on into our future.  I'm an emotional creature.  I had a little hitch in my chest as that little home-on-wheels eased away.  But I also had a smile on my face because, now, the pop-up is off to Great Adventures with a couple of grandparents with three active grandsons.  We know that the new memories made with the Chateau Graphite will last a lifetime for those little boys whose future surely holds s'more-sticky giggles.  Our collective lifetimes have certainly been made richer by it. Roll on, little pop-up.

For now, we're prepping the Minnie Winnie for new memories of our own...for we are camping people and the wilderness always calls to us.  And there are Great Adventures around every corner on every day.  There are still face-aching-smiles, belly laughs and coffee-and-wine-drenched weekends to be had. And, instead of my usual hashtag of #StillWinning, it has become filled with the promise of #StillWinnie.