Children scattered, thoughts collected

(For days, I’ve wanted to write, but each time the “Add New Post” page pops up, my brain empties, leaving my fingers with nothing to do. Desperate, I will start with where I am in the physical world and hope something more emerges.)

I sit on a bed in a SoHum cabin, pillows squished behind my back, another under the laptop. The Tempurpedic mattress adjusts accordingly; the flannel sheet, fuzzy blanket and fluffy comforter complete the sense of cozy. This place is not fancy, but spoils me nonetheless. Windows make up two of the four walls, an iconic butte rising tall through morning fog to the east. Trees — Doug firs, live oaks, madrones, those ones that burst into flowers at the end of their branches, bay laurels and more — fill in the valley below, alternating with beige meadows, all serving to make a postcard scene. A term come to mind because most people only see this sort of view on a postcard.

My neck and back ache slightly, likely from all the lounging about I’ve done the past day-and-a-half. My mouth is dry with the aftertaste of sleep. A cool drink of water helps. I’m in a tank top and thin pajamas, almost too warm under the covers. Different than my usual coastal wake-up chill. Bobby sleeps next to me, occasionally breaking into a snore. I poke him when he does and tell him to stop. “Honey!” I say. “You’re snoring.” Information I am compelled to impart.

“Ow,” he says. “Stop!”

“I’ll stop poking you if you stop snoring,” I offer. “If you stop snoring, everything will be perfect.”

“Perfect,” perhaps is an overstatement, but we’re close right here in this moment, spoiled by a child-free weekend in a cabin in the hills. We’re staying with friends because Nick scored a gig volunteering on Reggae on the River’s recycling team. We wanted to stay relatively close by given his imperfect record when it comes to decision-making — he has the brain of a teenager — and even more so given concerns over his diabetic management, which he typically handles quite well to be fair, but still. No one to check his blood sugar at 1 a.m.? No one to remind him to bolus or make sure he eats enough at the right times?

We expect him to take most of the responsibility for tracking carbs and blood sugar, but we’re the safety net, the back-up. If the influencing factors are well-attended to, diabetes doesn’t interfere much with normal living — but if something goes wrong, the resulting problems can get serious fast. What if he screws up and no one notices until too late? What if they don’t know what to do? We should have insisted he have a plan in case, had him connect with the medical people beforehand. I can’t believe we let him go for a whole weekend, out of cell range. I must be a terrible parent. He’s with a friend, a fact which I must count on disproportionately when seeking reassurance I did the right thing.

It’s a chance to step up, show responsibility, make connections and have an adventure. I believe in all these things. I just wish the leap from parental supervision to independent camping at a weekend festival had happened more gradually. I am not ready for this, but I let him do it anyway. Meanwhile, Kaylee’s at Lost Coast Camp in Petrolia for another week and Chelsea, who’s been out of the house for months anyway, expects to leave for Newport Beach momentarily. Why does my parenting world revolve around letting go? Or rather, trying to let go. Or, even more specifically, trying to figure out when to let go and when to hug tightly?

Sometimes I think it was easier having toddlers.

OK, not really. But the whole need for independence/need to be protected from their own impulses is horribly similar. It’s just with teenagers, the exhaustion tends to be more emotional than physical — and one can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Ideally.

If I were home, I’d have projects to work on, places to go, multiple ways of filling up this time. Since I’m ensconced in someone else’s abode with a bumpy, windy, miles-long dirt road between us and town, my options are limited to admiring the view, gorgeous in all directions, wandering through the cedars, book in hand, relaxing in a chair, reading, relaxing on the bed, writing, relaxing in the garden with a bottle of wine, drinking, snacking on dried mangos and chocolate trail mix, curling up with Bobby, chatting with our friends. Despite the worry, this is clearly the opposite of suffering. I am compelled to vow to refrain from complaining about anything ever, unless the seriousness of my complaint is such that the grief exceeds the gratitude I feel for the richness of my life.

If Nick survives the weekend, I might even thank him for necessitating this vacation. After he thanks me for being such an awesome mom, of course.

What’s the word for being worried-hopeful-trusting-aching-content all at once?

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4 Comments

  1. Is the word you’re searching for “alive?” (I feel more relaxed just reading your essay.)

    PS the trees that burst into cone shaped blossoms are buckeyes. Rather horrible name for such fragrant trees but they make a fruit (posionous) that could roughly be compared to a buck’s eye.

    Reply
  2. Buckeyes, right! Thanks, Kym. And thanks for the “alive” — perfect.

    Reply
  3. Dad

     /  July 17, 2011

    Very nice composition. Sometimes, worrying is selfish, cycling thought back you. But it is only natural as a parent to fret over letting go; what if we let go and our child is not ready? It’s the slow transition from dependency to sufficiency that parents have to master, recognizing small steps and encouraging bigger one.

    Reply
  4. scott g

     /  July 27, 2011

    What’s the word for being worried-hopeful-trusting-aching-content all at once?

    parent?

    Reply

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