Tuesday, August 12, 2014
It's funny. When I posted this picture on Facebook of our oldest loading up his car to move into his own first apartment, lots of comments went along the lines of comforting me for how sad I must be. Aw. I have such nice friends.
But I'm not sad. Or I wasn't until his sister said, "But it's the last time we'll live in the same house." I didn't really think of it like that. I am really, truly happy for him.
This is what we do. We raise them up. We teach them how to be nice people, how to brush their teeth, how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. How to dress and make phone calls and drive to the grocery store. How to put gas in the car, write an essay, fill out a job application. How to study and change a light bulb and tie their shoes.
I mean, he couldn't tie his shoes until he was eight.
But we don't think about those kinds of things on weeks like this. You don't think about how he would stand on the cedar chest looking out the window, waiting for his Daddy to get home from school. You don't think about his yellow rainboots splashing in puddles or about him sprawled on his belly in the middle of the soccer field, looking at bugs while his teammates kicked around the soccer ball. You cannot, whatever you do, think about how he and his little sister would put all their Beanie Babies into a big circle and have a Beanie Baby meeting, of which his KooKoo owl was always the leader. And Vinnie the Lionfish—bless him. He wasn't a Beanie Baby, but he was the boss of all the animals. The wise one, that Vinnie.
We've been through all of that once already. Four years ago this week he left for college at 17. I thought my heart would break. I thought I would never stop sobbing. But I did.
And then, four years later, he graduated from college and came back and got a job and now he has an apartment with his friends. Because that is how it goes.
This is what we do. We raise them up and we send them off into the world, or at least across town, with our cast-off silverware and the old plates we got when we were first married and a stack of mismatched towels—the ones that are kinda stained and frayed. He takes the old coffee table and the mannequin legs that were ours in college, and he buys a couch from the Salvation Army. And boxes of books—boxes and boxes and boxes of books. He is our son, after all.
Our son. And then he's back 24 hours later, back to just stop in and say howdy on his way to work. He tells me about their first night in the apartment, about the big TV which his roommates must have and about how they had pizza and friends over last night.
"Did you feel so free?" I ask him.
He grins, really big. "YES! So free!"
Because this is what we do.