Have you ever had times during which your heart is so full you can barely speak? Much less answer emails, phone calls, blog posts, and all the other ways in which we snails are drawn from our shells. So I find myself this week. Brimming. I now feel the need to be very, very quiet, just to keep myself from spilling over.
I went to see each son's room, the place they'd been living--half dismantled, ready to pack up, and for some reason that really put a catch in my throat. I am left full of contained joy, with a tinge of, not exactly sadness....is there a word? it feels like a sigh in my heart. Something's done. Some big part of the adventure of parenting and childing is finished. We've come to an ending. And, yes, a beginning. I'm excited to see what each will do next. But my job for the last couple of years has been to shift into a new gear with each son; recalibrate the relationship. I'm not smooth on the clutch yet; there is no such thing as automatic. I'm still the mom. But what does it mean to be a mom to grown up sons? We'll work it out, just as we always have. I start here: it probably means that I don't say, you're wearing bedroom slippers to get your diploma? Or, rather, I laugh at the futility of saying it.
Now it is time for another move into a larger world...for all three of us. Out of these shells, into others, a bit roomier--or cozier.
On the flight to LA I sat next to Bonnie Graves, blogger over at the wonderful Girl Meets Grape. I knew her work because I'd done that conference on wine writers a few months earlier. She was working on an article about dining with small children--okay, I peeked at her laptop from time to time, kind of hard not to given how jammed together we were, and how, as a lifelong editor, my eye is drawn to copy, filings to the magnet; I'm an inveterate eavesdropper from way back. I resisted the urge to read past the headline, mainly because that seemed too rude even for me, my eyesight isn't that sharp, and I was actually riveted by my book, Ford Maddox Ford's Parade's End. And occupied by pawing into the depths of my bag of Teddy Grahams, a treat I allow myself on long flights. I did, though, go into a reverie, remembered taking my sons to the local pizzeria so they could learn table manners and practice restaurant voices. It was poignant, to think about a new generation of mothers developing restaurant etiquette.
Alex and I stayed at my brother's house in Los Angeles, and each morning we were awakened by that long, low, smoothly insistent sound of cooing doves. There was always a nest in the arbor of the porch off my bedroom of my old house; I was thrilled each year by the clutch of new hatchlings and I considered it a sign of luck and peace to have doves sleeping nearby.
The doves at my brother's house found a ledge above the kitchen window; they didn't seem at all perturbed by his small children playing noisily underneath. Perhaps they knew, rightly, that their commotion would fend off the huge crows lurking with black intention. No need for a nest cam here. Two hatchlings poked heads up over the edge, before a parent came back to settle over them, warm them. That's her job, until they fly away. Which is what they are supposed to do, I remind myself.