Saturday, August 23, 2014

Unexpected Sharpness

He left behind his best pair of shoes. (I know they're comfy because we're the same size.) She left behind almost everything. (One can only take so much on a plane but I'm happy she has her guitar.) Let's be honest though. What they mostly left behind is this: me.

That's why there's an unexpected sharpness today, a lonely sharpness. I knew it was coming but I'm always easily surprised. My children are grown and gone. One moved about 8 hours away, one moved about 48 hours away. And yes, they will be back: Thanksgiving, surely Christmas, probably next summer, I don't know.

That's the thing: I don't know.

For the past week I've been talking with myself about this but I haven't much been listening to my logic. I knew it was coming. My daughter has already had two years of university six hours away. This isn't really new. Yet the difference this time seems to be that both of them are gone. And that's what I don't know: as a parent, who am I and how do I cope if both of them go?

I don't have a choice. I have to let go. But that also means I can't protect them. I can't be in charge. I can't see their faces in the morning and at night and I remember in the early years, that was the best part. I can't read Harry Potter aloud at bedtime anymore. I can't sing We Three Kings every night. And I can't make burritos, one without onions, one with everything, both with avocado and just sit and listen and laugh and nag and argue and question and challenge and debate and laugh and just look at them and just enjoy family life every day because that was the routine for so long and I barely remember a time without that routine.

That's the other thing: I don't know the new routine.

Wow that sounds old and anal. But honestly, my wife and I have built this sturdy structure, a sort-of scaffolding and now construction isn't complete but we've certainly finished this phase. And I know this is just all my stupid selfish tender heart because I'm also equally excited for them to find their own paths. My own path led to much happiness: marriage, children, career. They've earned this. I want this for them.

Yet I don't quite know my own path now.

Friends help. They remind me of the times I couldn't wait for my teens to grow up and get lives and at times, stop being assholes. I'm also told these relationships will evolve in deeper ways. I hope so. But will that happen for sure? I don't know.

Here's what I do know though: they don't need me to pine for them. They need me to be what I've always tried to be: Dad. So, just like from the very beginning of my life with them, that's what I will figure out how to do and how to be and who to be in all the ways they need me to be.

5 comments:

E. Angelina said...

I with you on that thought.

We still have a year before, we too, will be on our own. I think, the hardest part will be that we will no longer be in control of any aspect of our son life. And that includes protecting him. He will be living a life totally independent from us.

But, as parent it is our job to prepare them to be a productive part of society. And if we have done our job well, we they will succeed and make us proud.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy watching him grow into a young man I am proud to call my son.

Pickleope Von Pickleope said...

Is this what "empty nest syndrome" looks like? This is the part of parenthood where you get to stand back and look with pride at the life you have created...and get to take credit for all of their future successes.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

In our society, we don't often hear men talking about empty nest syndrome so it's refreshing and important and touching to read your post today.

Nashville Brown said...

Something completely different I know, but I have a four year old son, who leaves me every so often to go live with is mom.
I have a hard time watching certain things, even certain commercials.
It's got to be bittersweet when your child leaves "the nest".

Thank You for the blog.

Molly said...

Shew, a little tear here. I've got so long to go before mine bugger off but I already get sad thinking about it.
You are such a great Dad.

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