Friday, January 10, 2014

1/10/14 Can't stop crying

I crawled into bed last night after Nick's very low key, quiet birthday, and just started crying. This is a really rare occurrence for me, this wet stuff that just leaks out of my eyes and my nose and won't stop. I am typically very stoic on the outside, so finding my face wet with tears is incredibly disconcerting. I am also discovering that I am a terribly ugly crier.

I got up this morning and it started right up again. I suppose this is what one calls a "crying jag" except that I've never had one and I think I might prefer to never have one again.

In my logical mind, I've been trying to puzzle out, why in the world this is happening now?

Nick is leaving again today, but that is par for the course over the last three years. It does seem like every visit goes by faster now. He bursts in the door with his big self, hugging on us and rolling around in the floor with the dogs ("my puppies!" he calls them), and letting a bomb go off in his room with laundry and bags and general boy stuff. Instead of a quiet, well-kept guest room, it returns to "Nick's room" while he's here and he fills it up, both that room and the house, with his big, smiling personality.

In just a few hours, even though it feels like he only arrived home yesterday, all of that will all be packed away in his Jeep and I'll be standing at the door watching him go for another set of months.

So maybe that's part of it. I just thought the goodbyes were supposed to get easier.

Yesterday was his 21st birthday and between getting back from our trip, and catching up with work, and being sick, I felt like a complete failure as a mom not doing anything special for him. Bob brought home a cookie cake, and took him to get his choice of dinner (Taste of Philly cheesesteaks, take-out). I made him birthday waffles and since Bob Sr. and Nell had driven up Wednesday to bring us back Katy and Evan, they were able to sing Happy Birthday with me over candles on his breakfast before they headed back.

I keep telling myself, we just got back from a week at Disney World, where he wore his birthday button and had candles and cupcakes and songs and fun.

But I'm still crying.

Of course, in the middle of the tears, all the other things that make me sad bubble up, even though they are really quite happy, good things. Sammi got home from our trip to find her acceptance packet in the mail from Southern Oregon University, one of her top two choices. She's already got her ticket bought to fly to Portland over Spring Break to stay with Emily, her best friend, who is also interested in SOU. They'll visit the campus together that week. She's always been independent. I though I was, too. But man does it hurt to think of her so far away, so soon.

I've joked since she was very little that Nick would be the one I'd have to kick out of the house (he does love his ruts) while Sammi would be in Europe before she was 18. But Nick outgrew most of his separation anxieties and is flying from the nest easily and beautifully. And Sammi is flying away now, too, right before my eyes, just like I always knew she would, in her inimitable, incredible fashion. It makes me so, so proud. But also a little sad. My work is finishing up in a lot of ways. They don't need mom in the same ways, and that's exactly how it should be.

I've always known these days were coming, and I thought I was prepared. I've filled up my life with friends and interests and I won't be sitting home alone, wishing I could do more laundry, or have someone to talk to. It's not that.

I've never defined myself solely on my motherhood, and I don't think these copious tears are tied to just some empty nest syndrome. Perhaps.

Back from the trip two days now, I've had a bit of time to decompress and review and reflect. Disney doesn't allow for a lot of that while you're there. It's sensory overload. And it's wondrous and magical, but also tiring and overwhelming. The poem that always springs to mind, especially the ending, is Carpe Diem:

But bid life seize the present? 
It lives less in the present 
Than in the future always, 
And less in both together 
Than in the past. The present 
Is too much for the senses, 
Too crowding, too confusing- 
Too present to imagine.

And less in both together than in the past. Yes. This.  I do love me some Robert Frost.

We had a bit of a meltdown on the second night in the parks, when crowds were heavy and it was very cold and Sam was on a mission to find a particular hat that had us walking from store to store on the search. I was completely unaware that over the past days of the trip, if I was talking to Nick and Sam interrupted, my attention went straight to her, leaving him hanging. He had to point this out to me and naturally, it was when we were all tired and cranky that the frustration bubbled out. I felt like a terrible mother, because what he said was true. Since he's left home, Sam and I have grown even closer, and when he's home, it's a very limited window of opportunity for us to share things together. I had to work on how to balance out doing everything I can for both of them together again.

And in a few months, that balance will probably be easier to come by. Because they'll both be gone most of the time. And I suppose, that's the crux of the crying jag. This trip might not be the last. I certainly hope not. But it might be. You just never know. From this point on, they'll be in different states, on different schedules, in tune with different people that they want to do things with. Maybe the stars will align and we can make it back in another two years. Maybe.

I pushed to move this trip up precisely because I saw the horizon. I feel it slipping away. And I'm sure it will slip into something wonderful and new. But it won't be the same. It's never the same.

As much as I want to hold on to the moments, they slip away, over and over.

And I can't stop crying.

Those theories about animals being in tune with human emotion must be right, because all of mine have crowed around me, nearby, as if to comfort me. It makes me smile through my swollen face.

Life goes on.

And every moment is precious precisely because it is so fleeting.

Even the ones filled with tears.


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