My uterus hurts.
It hurts like labor or period cramps; it’s sort of like a cantaloupe is lodged in the pit of my cervix. It just hurts.
I am giving advice on making good decisions to my kid who is eighteen. “Stay away from Frat parties. You have to ask yourself, “Is this in my best interest?” And, if it isn’t, get out.”
She just donated her “locks of love” and wears a pixie.
Her phone is in her right hand, as usual.
I think of a fawn, (all neck and big eyes) when she turns to me.
God damn it; it hurts to have the last one fledge.
I used to make jokes to her. “Always talk to strangers. If anyone offers you candy, take it. If a man over thirty offers you a ride, jump right in, especially if it is a van.” It was my twisted joke of parenting. She knew my humor. It was our way of discourse. I seem to have lost the ability to lighten up.
I try not to let my voice waiver.
“It’s just that you are ready to go, and I’m proud of you…but life in this household will never be the same. It won’t be a house of parents and kids. You are adults now.”
She looks back at her phone, then at me. It’s awkward.
It’s a weird stage of parenting. My son, who is just four years older than her, is in town before leaving with his girlfriend to return to college. I want to hold them all in a big momma-huddle; I want to give them sage advice—and yet, it’s really too late for words.
Seriously, if I haven’t taught them to eat, clean, study, rinse, and repeat, it’s just too late. I get that.
When did I get so ridiculously sentimental? Everyone knows the rules of the parent game from the moment they sign up. You have the kids to enjoy the kids, to grow the kids whole enough to go on to their own lives. You equip them with values you want to see in the world. You try to prepare them better than you were prepared, maybe twist them enough to make them interesting, then quietly, let them launch.
Letting go is so much harder than holding on. At least in holding, there is an illusion of safety and control.
When my son and his girlfriend unpacked all the things from her house and my house that were saved for them, then sorted through to take only what might fit in their loft apartment, I tried to help. I inserted myself twice and they both just looked at me. I took the cue and went for a walk. How can they launch if I don’t let them sort their own things?
The pit in my uterus twangs again.
My daughter unfolds her long fawn legs and says she’ll be in her room until dinner. I am too emotionally paralyzed to cook—I am fucking wallowing in it.
I can’t make myself do the smallest work to cook a meal. Change is terrifying me. I think of my brother when his daughter moved to another state. Even though he had the better job, the house, her things, a flexible schedule, patience, and experience, the judge said the mother could take their three year old daughter to another state.
On the morning of impending doom, he made the best smiley face pancakes a dad could make. His daughter helped him mix the batter. He was upbeat, tender, and he never waivered in his inflection as he told her the steps of making the pancakes. She put her hand on the wooden spoon and mixed the batter with him. I saw the tear run down his eye and nose before being wiped away by his shoulder.
He didn’t wallow in it.
He added bananas and giggled with her as she ate her breakfast.
I lack his fortitude.
My daughter just came in with her computer to show me which assigned books she needs that are on sale at a dot com. “Yes, order them. Don’t wait.” I say because I know that is the right thing to do.
I guess it’s our version of stirring the batter, one hand over the over, but it hurts.
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Asst Ed: J. Andersson/Ed: Bryonie Wise