Christian Michael Albrecht graduated and it was a proud day for us. A day of great celebration. Not only did he successfully achieve this milestone, but he is the last of our four children to do so. We did it! We got them all through school!!
I survived the preparation and then managed to get through the ceremony without crying (much.) Then I spent the next two weeks hauling the grandmas from one end of North Carolina to the other. We all had a great time, except unfortunately the last week I ended up getting stricken by the bubonic plague. It has had me in bed for over a week now, coughing, congested and not being able to speak above a whisper. My husband is delighted!! I suspect he somehow masterminded the whole plot behind this thing just so he could have a vacay from me nagging him to do chores.
Anyway, lying in bed this long gives me much too much time to think. And what I have been thinking about is storytelling.
From the time I was little I loved to write. When I was in the first grade, I wrote a killer story about "How the Mouse Got a Long Tail." There was this mouse, see, who ran under a door because the cat was chasing him, and the cat caught his tail just as he squeaked under (get it? squeaked?) and the mouse kept on running, and the tail stretched out longer and longgggggger...Really, the story arc was fabulous.
Anyway, when I was in the 5th grade, I read my father's book of The Collected Works of Shakespeare and for some reason got it into my head to write my own abridged version of "Julius Caesar." Ok, ok, I was a nerd even then. But I like mine better: short and to the point. "Et tu, Brute?" Thump.
I wrote and wrote and wrote, and somewhere along the way, graduated from college with a BA in journalism, got married, worked at an ad agency, had four kids and....stopped writing. My words dried up. I was so busy being a wife and a mom, and teaching our children, playing with them, telling them stories and loving them, that there was no time to even take a hot bath, much less put a sentence together. The bubble baths I loved when I was young gave way to quick hops in and out of the shower, dropping into bed, and dreaming the dreamless sleep of the dead. All to wake up and do it again the next day. And the next. And the next. And the years rolled on.
Until here I am.
The youngest will be leaving in less than two months to start his own life at college. He is more than ready to write his own story. We are finished with the hands-on parenting, my husband and I. We managed to raise four kids and keep them alive until adulthood and now they have all pretty much flown the nest.
It hits me at odd times, that THAT focus of my life is now complete. My sole identity, through my own choosing, has been as "Mother." And now, there are no children any more.
It's so cliche, but it honestly does not seem possible that the time has gone by so quickly. When I look back now, I see a roaring wind of time that flattened me in its path. The squeals of laughter, petty squabbles, the telling of stories, the "Moooo-oommmm!!", the teen angst, the heartbreaks of adolescence -- all of it -- finished. Done. Over. A quiet is descending slowly upon our home. Christian works long hours and I have a foretaste of how life will be when he leaves for college, never to return home the same.
It is so bittersweet. All the years when I thought, "I can't wait...." -- well, the waiting is over. It is here. They are all moving on, into their own lives with their own children, and their own stories, and Mom is not the first thought in their minds anymore. That's ok, although hard to accept. They have been the focus of my life for 29 years, so it is a little humbling to realize that I am no longer the focus of theirs. I've been left behind, like the "Where the Wild Things Are" book, the Candyland game, and Ashton's stuffed bear named "Mooney." Loved and cherished above all at one point, but now...better tales are calling.
That's as it should be. They are all entitled to their own lives, to seek out their own adventures, to write the stories of their own souls and they should not be held back.
But in the silence that they leave behind them...
in that silence I once longed for but now rings a little hollow....
in that silence...
I will find my own words again.