Years or seconds – same thing
Posted August 30, 2010on:
There’s a car commercial on TV where a dad rattles off a list of safety measures to a little girl who can’t see over the steering wheel. At the end of the commercial, we learn the little girl is really all grown up but the dad still sees her as his baby.
That’s EXACTLY what I am experiencing right now. On Saturday, I dropped my first-born son off at college.
My mother warned me during my first pregnancy. “You have never felt love like this before. Nothing even comes close.” She was right. From the moment the plus sign appeared on the test, my perspective shifted. I went without chocolate (Yep. I really did.) No medication. No caffeine. No alcohol. Rob was born at nine pounds, ate like a baby moose, pooped like an adult moose and now he’s eighteen and I’m supposed to be “done” with him.
Uh uh. Sorry. Ain’t happening.
Sure, I knew I’d fall hopelessly in love with a baby of my own. But what nobody ever told me, what the What to Expect books don’t adequately cover, is that having your own baby is false advertising! He’s not mine, he never was. He belongs to himself. I just got to borrow him for oh, eighteen years. Having your own baby goes beyond merely raising a functional member of society. It’s performing thoracic surgery on yourself. It’s reaching in to your own chest cavity and splitting your own heart into pieces – keeping one for you and cheerfully handing one over to your child. The piece that goes to the baby works just fine. But mine is left exposed, not just worn on my sleeve, but outside of my body. It beat harder, faster, when that baby ran for the ungated stairs. It aches when he aches, it bled when his friends banded together to bully him and it comes to a complete stop whenever he’s injured. (Which is often. Thirteen stitches in his leg two months ago.) It sits, stuck in my throat, every time he asks for the car keys. It begs me, screaming and pounding on my rib cage, to turn the car around as I drive away, watching him wave in the rear view mirror and it wonders just how it’s supposed to continue beating on its own.
I know this is the circle of life. (Cue Elton John here.) I did what I was supposed to do. Raised him with morals and standards, encouraged his dreams, sacrificed to make sure he got the opportunity to realize them. He’s a good kid. I trust him. But I don’t trust the rest of the world with him, the other half of my heart. He’s ready. I know he is. But I’m NOT.
I have to get back to work. I have to write, take care of the house, pay the bills. I wonder, how will I put my mind to these things when it wants so desperately to do nothing else but listen to my heart? Eighteen years separates the two photographs posted here. The years feel like minutes now. Seconds, even. I blinked. I blinked and he’s off, living his own life.
I will get used to this. Eventually. With the help of strong drink and lots of chocolate. And I’ve no doubt he’ll make me proud, just as he’s done since 1992. Circle of life and all that. *rolls eyes* Ah. It starts already. Son #2 (which indicates birth order, not preference 🙂 ) just reminded me that he’ll be sixteen in a few months. In New York, sixteen is the learner’s permit age.
Please. Just kill me now, before my heart fails completely.