Saturday, February 19, 2011

Simba, Mufasa & Rafiki

Remember the Lion King?
Remember the Circle of Life?

I've been thinking about it a lot.
I find myself actually thinking in cliche's.
About seasons turning,
winds of change,
things like that.

Once upon a time,
my children were babies.

I held them, rocked them, sometimes I couldn't even put them down for a nap, I just held them the whole time. I admit to being a bit more...what's the word? Attached, hovering, paranoid? ...than most moms. After all, I knew what it was to lose a child. And I held those moments dear. Savoring every moment. Watching dark eyelashes flutter against perfect pink skin, listening to little contented sighs. Breathing in the unique scent of those little tufts of baby hair. Touching little rosebud toes.

I couldn't imagine anything better.
And then they grew.
Sticky hands, wobbly steps, hugs back, squeals of laughter and hearing "mama."
Surely this is the best it gets.
And then they're in preschool.
Silly songs, making friends, having ideas of their own, investigating the world, showing it to you through their eyes.
Sheer bliss.

You get the idea, right?
And while I discover something new to love each time, each stage, there is a part of me that realizes that I'm working myself out of a job. I had a moment of grief, of mixed longing and mourning when each of my children turned nine. After all, 9 is half-way to 18, and at 9, I knew, half the time I'd been given was gone.

Home is where your story starts.
But it continues to grow somewhere else.
This is that circle, that cycle, that change of seasons.
It's supposed to be that way.

When Zach began his senior year, I knew that there were many things we were doing together for the last time. Like carving pumpkins. College kids don't generally travel home for Halloween.

What would I do when he was gone, living in some dorm? How would I sleep at night when I couldn't look into his room, hear him breathe and know he was safe?

And here we are. Zach is halfway through his freshman year at OSU six hours away. I have survived four months. 120 nights. I'm okay. He's okay.

Not to imply it's been a cake-walk. Even good change is tough sometimes. We took Zach to Corvallis in September. We helped him unpack. It was hard work and Kate wouldn't help in protest. Eventually, we were tired and hungry and cranky. We got dinner and then took Z back to the dorm. He got out of the car and walked toward that huge brick building. He turned and waved so I could get the required picture. I prayed then, and got a bit teary-eyed, but I was okay. I know many things. I know that Zach is where he is supposed to be. I know that God loves him, even more than I do. And I know that Zach loves God. Those things help. It's time. It's time for him to move forward, to (cliche' again) spread those wings and fly. It was okay.

And then on the way home, Kenny said something funny when a song came on the radio. And a few hours later, when the song came on again, Kate repeated what Kenny had said. We all laughed. And then Kate gets quiet. "What, baby?" With a serious look on her face she says, "When Zach comes home for Christmas and we do that, he won't know what we mean." We weren't even home yet, and we had already created an inside joke without him. And then I cried. Really cried, realizing that we were, once again at a place of division. This crossroads would be defining. A before and after sort of place. A time where we could look back and look ahead and see that the two were not the same. A place where everything changes.

I'm proud of the man that Zach is. He works hard. He's intelligent and thoughtful. He's strong in his faith and he's a kind and loyal friend. I enjoy his company and I'm grateful to have him as a son.

Do I wish for things to go backwards, to what they were? No. Even though I do miss having Zach here. I miss getting to talk to him daily. I miss his hugs and hearing his laugh. I miss tripping over his big shoes and I miss the sound of his voice. I miss listening to music with him. I miss his funny rants about random things. I miss his passion and how fired up he gets. I miss his enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge of sports. Sometimes I even get a bit nostalgic for his crankiness. And every once in a while, I wish I could hop in a Delorian and zip back to 1992 and scoop up that sweet baby again, hold him close and bury my nose in his hair while he held my ear.

But only for a minute.
Only for a minute.
For if we live in what was,
we miss out on what is.