my 10.5 year old canine companion has not been feeling well for several months so he and i have been sleeping in the guest room, which used to be my younger son’s room. since he moved out i’ve repainted, boxed up his books and gadgets, moved some of the old furniture out and dressed the bed with a new comforter. it’s hard for me to remember when my now 24-year-old son lived in that room, but knowing that he did, and remembering him in those days, comforts me.
the other night as i lay in bed awaiting sleep, which seems to take longer to arrive lately, i notice one small glow-in-the-dark star affixed to the ceiling right above the bed. seeing that vestige of my son’s youth brought tears to my eyes, partly because i miss him and partly because i am so proud of him.
i never realized that i would be so emotional during this phase of my life. when the boys were beginning to “come into their own”, developing their own distinct personalities, growing up, i recall thinking that the joy/sorrow of having children would surely be much easier to take when we were all older, when i was a more seasoned mother. for some reason i thought that i would have had enough practice dealing with parenting issues at that vague point in the future and i’d be much more calm, controlled, matter-of-fact. what a nut job i was to think that.
in some ways i feel even less capable of dealing with the emotions of parenthood now that i am older and they are on their own, living their lives. it’s one thing to experience the immense joys and the near-debilitating sorrows when they are living right down the hall. at least then you can hear them, smell them, hug them, ground them, sit across from them and talk to them. now we mostly communicate with short emails, texts and the occasional phone call and i though know i am lucky that they keep in touch, it is obviously not the same.
did my parents miss me and my siblings this much? did they think about us as often, or were they too busy enjoying their lives together, just the two of them? it never seemed to me that they were sad to see us go after a visit, but maybe they just kept things close to the vest better than i do, or ever have. no one has ever accused me of being hard-t0-read, but i did imagine myself being more in control at the age of 59.
the fact is, my children are my glow-in-the-dark stars that bring me out of the difficult days that i have now and again. when i’m feeling wistful, lonely or sad, chances are one of them will call or send something funny or do something wonderful or kind, and i realize that i am the luckiest mother in the world.