Wednesday, August 27, 2008

40 kinds of sadness


I start feeling sad about a week and a half before my son leaves for college out of state so when the time comes to say goodbye, I'm mostly ok. I count the days down in my head and they always go by too quickly. Even though I do lots of complaining about having all the kids home and in my hair, and on my nerves, there's something comforting in knowing that everyone is under this one roof--that I know where to find everyone at any given time. When he leaves, it's like a little of the color drains from my life and I'm always looking to fill it back up but that's impossible without him here, and so my world is a little less colorful.

I waste lots of time wishing that I could find something great to do with my life when I know the greatest thing I'll ever do is be a mother to my children. It's easy to forget the importance of that work when you are knee deep in the drudgery of life. Motherhood sometimes feels like it is less valued because there is no measure of success for all the million ways it takes to raise a human being. The job is round the clock giving and loving to the best of your ability. The payoff is proudly watching a life move away from you while you try not to scream come back.

So much of why I am good is a result of having my children. I think without them, I'd be this chaotic, directionless mess, which is not something I want to admit because I like to project the illusion that I'm as together as the next guy who is projecting illusions of togetherness. But really? It's their lives in my life that make me whole, that help me to be good.

I hate goodbyes but I go along with them because there's not anything I can do to stop everyone from getting on with their lives. I can't insist that everyone stay with me forever so that I can complain that they're not leaving fast enough, which is what I end up doing. I contradict myself a hundred times a day without even trying.

It's the waiting for him to leave that gets me the most. I tear up everywhere--in the laundry room, walking around in Kroger's, driving in my car. It's like I'm trying to squeeze all the sadness out before he goes and remarkably, this routine works for me. When crunch time comes, I am always reluctantly ready.

I like thinking that a part of me goes wherever my children go so that we don't ever feel alone. He leaves tomorrow. Already I cannot wait for him to come back.

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