Monday, June 23, 2008

Bittersweet Mothering

I haven’t been writing because I’ve been busy living. Pablo graduates in five days. He’s in his last exams. He’s out partying with his friends and then sleeping late at home.

These are my last days to tell Pablo things about life. But, he doesn’t want to know what I think or what I know about anything anymore. (Hence this blog! Someday, he’ll be very interested and read it all.)

The blog is turning into something entirely different than I had imagined. It began, first, as an attempt to write down my life advice for Pablo, so he could refer to it as needed. Then I began writing my thoughts and advice about the Mothering of an older child.

I was surprised to learn that Mothers of young children are reading my blog, as if I am a beacon of light in the future night. Their children are young, and they read my words with interested dread and say, “Thank goodness I have years before my kids leave home.” Exhausted as they are from their toddlers and grade school aged children, they know how time flies and want to be reminded to love their kids every minute. For these brave, young Mothers, my words are like watching a horror film through half closed eyes: you know this moment will come, but don’t want to imagine it for yourself, but still you want to see someone else do it, you want to see if the heroine (the mother!) gets out alive! And that your children will still love you when they go.

Yesterday, Pablo paged through my Class of 1969 High School Yearbook with me. He was fascinated to see me as a young girl, his age. He (of course!) couldn’t believe the clothes, the hairstyles, the Nixon-Humphrey posters on the walls of the school. He was impressed with the energy, the activities that we had back then. I told him, “I feel the same as you right now, like I was 18, I really do. The body ages, but the soul stays the same age. Always young.”

Then he let me teach him how to really make his bed. (“It’s all about precision,” I said, “You know, geometry – lines and angles.”) He is finally, really realizing that in a few weeks I will drop him off at college and he’ll be on his own. He listened to me discuss washing machines, water temperature, not to mix whites and colors, and to fish his clothes out of the dryer immediately so they wouldn’t wrinkle. I ended with, "You really should wash your sheets at least every two weeks, because people really don't like people who smell." He nodded.

He’s getting a lot of mail from college these days. He chose to fill out his course pre-registration in the living room where I was reading. He thought out loud with question marks in his voice. No surprises yet –Intro to Psychology, to Philosophy, to Literary Analysis and to Shakespeare. He mused between piano, cello and violin. He will try rock climbing as his sport.

I sat there and smiled. It actually felt great not to have to give him my opinion. I may be paying the outrageous college tuition bills, but now, the decisions are his. I understood that the first 18 years of Motherhood are about the Mother being happy with her child's growth and behavior. Now, all that's important, is that Pablo does what makes him happy.

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