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When Children Really Leave Home
graduation and summer 023.jpg

I had my children at an early age, when I was physically but not truly psychically ready to have them.  And when they were little and my former spouse and I were living on first one and the two teacher's salaries--when I took them to every free event in the Bay Area to make sure we got out of the house--I could only imagine a day when they would be gone.  When I could go to the bathroom by myself or make a meal for myself and then sit and eat it while reading the newspaper.  Back then, sleep was something that was always interrupted (though please, let's not talk about peri-menopause and sleep issues here) and the day about the making of food.  It was later about driving to a from preschool and then grade school and the various lessons they had through the years--tumbling, ceramics, basketball, drawing, clarinet, aikido, drama.  It was about the worries and vicissitudes of adolescence and driver's training and getting into colleges.

And then they were gone.  Poof!

Now, I miss them.  I miss that life, too, wishing I could go back in and be a better mother.  Wishing I hadn't worried so much about things that weren't important (traffic and schedules and who took what class when and who would drive them there).  Wishing I'd listened more.  Wishing I'd slowed down.  I know I did my best, working one then two then three jobs (writing being one of them).  Between the two of us, my former spouse and I were able to pick them up after school and spend time with them.  We ate dinners together and watched television together.  I helped with homework.  We traveled all around the world during the summers, and yet, I have regrets.

And here's the deal.  You know your children are really gone when they have attachments to a place not home.  This past holiday, my youngest insisted on leaving for "home" early because of his girlfriend.  He missed her.  She was back home.  My oldest has a home too, a home not here.  They have lives and people and jobs and activities that aren't where their father and I are at all.

The good news for me is that I have a home, too.  I have the job and activities and life that continues to keep me busy, but as my boys are adding to their lives, bringing in more, pieces of mine are falling away.

I guess that's what happens.  We build and then let it go, a bit at a time.

So if I could go back to me, that young mother, I would tell her this, and she wouldn't be able to do much differently.  But I think she could look around, take in those beautiful boys, and know that it was temporal, ephemeral, soon to end.  She could hold them and touch them and know that never again would it really be like this.  That it was a blessing, the best blessing that this human life has to offer, no matter how many of us are crowding the planet.

Here I sit writing, pictures of my boys all around me, and I want to tell them thank you.  Thank you.


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Jessica, that reminds me...

of when you brought Mitchell once to class when he was sick. You were trying to lecture on a Francine Prose story and he was doing something and you had to say "Mitchell! No!" It's so hard to believe he's out in the world. Now I feel old....

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I think he was shooting

I think he was shooting little legos out of a lego cannon at me as I was lecturing!

Time has flown, to use a cliche.  No other way to put it.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com