Wednesday, January 28, 2009

shifting

i don't know where i got the idea that life was supposed to be stable...flat, smooth, whatever. but i have long pursued that goal. and now i understand that the reason i haven't achieved it isn't because of some defect of my character, laziness of my person...i haven't achieved it because it is unreal. life doesn't work that way. it's not always these huge shifts, like what split our continents...but it is not stagnate.

there is a shift going on in my household that has gotten my attention. my teenager is ready to do things on his own...to be a little more independent. when we went to dinner monday to celebrate chinese new year, he went to climb with the rock climbing team. and this was kind of depressing to me...depressing in a way that made me want to stamp my foot and say "no! you're coming with US...we like you better than those rock climbing fools" (and i should say here that i like the rock climbing fools just fine...they are not fools at all, but when one is tantruming, one's integrity tends to get drowned out by the screaming two year old). instead, i let him go and i pouted...i brooded...i let myself be pretty disgruntled by the whole thing for the whole ride home and a few minutes after getting there. then my bil and nephew got to my house, and we were all cracking up together, waiting for my spouse to get home so we could go surprise the hell out of some chinese restaurant in our small town with the knowledge that there are, in fact, chinese folks living around here...

at dinner, as i looked at my three other sons and my nephew, my bil and my spouse and i, all sitting at this table, eating way oversalted chinese food, laughing and talking, i felt the absence of my oldest. and i saw a future with more of his absences...and even the eventual absence of the other little traitors, er, i mean kids at the table. it made me tear up some.

i know them growing up is part of the goal...it has to be. i don't want them to be dependent on me for every meal, every dime, every car ride or homework reminder, for the rest of their lives. i know they are good people already. and they look forward to each new opportunity, each new experience. my oldest is really getting independent. and i've seen more of the good man he's becoming as he's travelled out on his own than i ever had the chance to witness when i held him under my wing. but it makes me appreciate these times of transitioning all the more.

when my youngest was growing passed toddlerhood, i remember wondering if this would be the last time i nursed him, the last diaper i'd change, the last time i'd cut his food into tiny little chunks. but now i wonder if this is the last time my oldest will let me grab him in a cradle hold on my lap, laugh at my dumb jokes, talk to me about girls. i doubt so, but i've never done this before...it's all new terrain for me.

it also occurs to me how my job as his mom has changed. how it's not for me to remove him from situations that may be difficult...how he's chosen a challenging path because he WANTS the challenges...me suggesting he avoid them at times only undermines his sense of what he's capable of handling...geez, what a crazy balance.

i just got in touch with a friend i used to spend a lot of time with after i went back to school in 1999. i'd met him at camp and i thought the world of him. he had an energy to him such that just being in his presence made me feel better. after he found me on facebook, i noticed he had some AA stuff in his bio. so this morning, he sent me the story of the last few years. he doesn't remember much of our time hanging out, other than he feels so grateful to have found me, see my family, be back in touch. he was drinking heavily, which i knew, smoking out a lot, which i figured, and also branching into other things, which i had no idea of, at that time. i always knew he had the ability to turn his life into what he has now. the part of him that's turned things around and been grown during those difficult years for him, was always there...it just needed the chance to come forward, which meant all the bullshit had to burn itself out. and that took time...it always does. but as i chatted with my friend, i thought, how would i feel if my teenager brought home someone like this man when i first met him? would i be okay with it? would i allow him the chance to experience the full gambit of life that i've had the opportunity to experience with him? or would i become afraid and try to get him to end his friendship? i don't know. but it is something i will definitely be thinking about for the next decade or longer, i suppose.

yesterday, i was telling some friends about this feeling of being overwhelmed...of vacillating back and forth between "i got it" and "i am in way over my head." a friend said i sounded like i was swinging on a vine, trying to get bananas. something about that image really struck me...that life is about swinging...i always think i will find that point of balance and stay there forever (you know, once i'm really good at it and stuff). but i don't think that's how it works. i think we swing back and forth, sometimes in big arcs, sometimes in smaller ones...but i think balance comes in recognizing it when we're there...not necessarily digging our fingernails in and trying to stay there...but knowing we'll return there again and again. i don't think there's any other way to look at life once i've admitted i am not in control of every aspect of it, nor can i be.

one of the things my friend said to me today...

personally, I had it all wrong, i am not on this earth for me but for me to be available to you, you being anyone i can be useful to

i hope my sons have the chance to know and love and learn from people like i have...
peace

4 comments:

JO said...

I like this post. Very much. :)

LanaTron said...

I am right there with you every time I send Z or C off camping with the scouts. And now they both may be going to NYC this fall! ACK!

Talk to you soon.

Lana

Ken said...

loosing an arrow are we?

Breath, see it in slow motion...
with all mindfullness...
on a slow exhale, gently release pressure
until the arrow releases itself.
See it bend under the load of its
own acceleration...
See and hear the string vibrate at its natural frequency as it disengages the nock. See the fletchings ripple as they take the air load. take note of any developing spin that will eventually stabilize the path...

breath...

earthmama said...

thanks jen. i liked it a lot, too. :)

i WILL talk to you soon, lanatron...

ken, i keep coming back to this and breathing...thanks.