Tempus Fugit

So, my son has gone away for a month.

No, I am not 100% on board with this. There are several very good reasons why he went, and I’m totally behind all those reasons. But, at the end of the day, it’s my BABY and he’s flying on scary airplanes and spending a month out of my sight and a million things could go wrong.

Forget, for a moment, that I flew from San Antonio to Eugene, Oregon, when I was only 2 years older than he is. Also, I had a 6 month old baby with me, and my flight was delayed due to snow. The kindness of strangers was all that saved me from being stuck in Denver overnight with a baby and no baby formula. (By the way, thank you, anonymous people from 22 years ago. You saved me and the Bear.)

Forget that he’s over 6′ tall and big and manly and a much less vulnerable person than a teenaged mom with a small baby. My reasonableness doesn’t figure into things when I’m being panicky.

Forget that he’s spending the month with MY dad, a guy who was reasonably adept enough to keep me alive during my childhood. Also the guy who let me buy my first Converse shoes when I was 14, as well as the first Guns N Roses album. Okay, maybe the last one isn’t exactly a recommendation, but I sure thought it was when I was 14.

Forget, while we’re at it, that I was only a year and a half older than my son currently is when I got married.

Lots of things to forget. Of course, what I most want to forget is that he’ll be leaving again in two years, this time to college.

My older daughter is more of a homebody, loves her baby brothers, doesn’t seem in too much of a hurry to jaunt off into the wide world. And we couldn’t pry my stepson out of the house with a crowbar until he was 25 and I gave him an ironclad move-out date. But the Viking lad is not like that– he’s got the spirit of his ancestors in him for sure, the wanderlust and conviviality and desire to get the heck out of Mom and Dad’s theocracy.

And having him away is rough. You don’t realize what an indelible part of yourself your children become until they’re suddenly not there. Nobody can remember how many plates to use to set the table. I bought an extra Laffy Taffy at the grocery, only remembering that he was gone after I opened the bag to pass out the candy to the other kids. I start to call for him a million times a day.

But it’s been an eye-opener, too, that my little boy is almost grown up. And since I promised him last year that I would allow him the privileges and honors accorded to those who are grown-up, I guess I will have to actually come through with them. It’s giving me something to do, anyway, trying to figure out what will have to change, the things he’ll need, the way to afford it all. We’re already running into a silly problem from my husband buying himself a truck– our old car, which is pretty much destroyed from overuse in the years he had to commute from Florida to Texas on weekends, is now parked along the curb. There’s no room in the garage for it and no room in the driveway. So how are we going to fit a truck for the Bear and a car for the Viking? Will we have to wage war against the neighbors for parking space?

It’s the kind of summer that makes me regret how quickly his childhood passed. I meant to do so much more with him, I wanted it to be a better kind of childhood. And it’s given me the impetus, finally, to start working to make the childhood of his little brothers somewhat better. We’ve begun doing things we sorely needed to do– exercising, for example– mostly because I can feel their lives speeding along the same track that took their older brother so quickly from my inseparable little toddler to this new separate man.

There’s still a little time left, though. Two years, years we can spend, I hope, more time together. I hope there’s time to breach some of those walls we’ve spent the past couple of years in building up. Boys have to pull away from their mothers in order to find themselves as men. But men, I think, can afford to watch goofy movies with their moms on a Saturday night every once in a while. Because they know, too, that everything goes too fast, and sometimes you just have to slow down and sniff the buttered popcorn.

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