Thursday, March 12, 2009

don't look back

I felt a kind of grim nostalgia for my own childhood, even before I'd fully left it. I didn't want to grow up, didn't want to be seven, nine, twelve, fourteen. I had read somewhere that sleeping children breathe at a different rhythm than adults and so I would sometimes sneak into my younger brother's room at night and listen, comparing. Was my own breath in and out a little faster than his? A tiny bit slower? Had I already grown up, but just hadn't realized it yet?

Strangely, none of those feelings of regret and loss seem to apply to my son Gray. As he's reached each childhood milestone, I've felt nothing but relief -- one more hurdle crossed, one fewer thing to worry about. Now, he stands, long-limbed and touchingly self-confident, at the brink of adulthood and I keep thinking it should be harder than it is to let him go.

Today Gray got his very first college acceptance letter -- sent by one of those traditional schools that apparently doesn't believe in email notifications. It's probably not his first choice, but it's a school I'd be very happy to see him at. By September, he'll be gone, living in a dorm, eating at a long table in a dining hall, telling his roommates things he'd never dream of telling me. And what I feel is a wild sense of expectation and what I see is a bright and boundless future, a future that, somehow, I never was able to conjure for myself.

21 comments:

Magpie said...

It's nice that you're so happy for his future.

Dalene said...

Wow, what an interesting way to view your boys and their stages. It sounds so hopeful. And I like hope.

-c said...

Yay! I'm really happy for him.

I think my mom was the same way. Very excited to see me grow up. She's very into educated conversations and kids don't have too many of those.

Yup, sounds very familiar.

Azaera said...

Congrats to Gray for getting into a good school! And as for letting your son go, I have given it a lot of thought, and while I want nothing more than to be able to trust my child will be safe out in the world on his own, I cannot fathom that I will ever be able to let go of him without having a panic attack. Of course this may be due to his special circumstances or that he's only 4 months old. I may change my mind as he grows up.. Still I applaud you for being so strong. I hope one day I feel the same.

slouching mom said...

be proud of his self-confidence. it's hard to come by, and it will serve him well.

Cassie said...

I sort of felt that way for my younger brother, even though he's only four years behind me in school. He's such a smart, charming guy, I felt like the whole world was his for the taking. For myself, I just worried that I was missing something that everyone else knew about. I think sometimes it is easier to have high hopes for others.

Lori said...

Congratulations to this emerging young man. And to you for encouraging his growth and independence.

I'm happy for you both!

The Nanny said...

I feel the exact same way you did (do?). One of my earliest memories is of when I was 4, my sister was 2, and I wanted so badly to be her so that I'd only be 2 years old (not 4--that was too old). I didn't want to be that old. I still am the same way.

Congrats to Gray!

Aunt Becky said...

That's awesome. Good for him.

Sarah said...

wow, i can't imagine! i have a hard time picturing piper past the next six months. i guess a lot actually happens while it's all whizzing by at light speed...

Eva said...

I asked my mom once if she was sad when I moved through the stages of growing up, and she said she was always ready for the next thing, that it always felt right.

Sara said...

You, my dear, should write a book.

Tash said...

I always wanted to grow up so I could get the eff out. And I'm talking from about age 9, I had these feelings that I was too big for the pop stand I was in.

Bella has already voiced that she doesn't want to grow up. I was more than happy to get out of her 0-1 stage (and hold zero nostalgia for it), and four now is really rough. So I guess we walk some fine line, her and I, about just how fast time is really passing.

congratulations, Gray!

niobe said...

Sara: Though I sometimes, you know, fantasize about writing a book, the truth is that I have trouble writing anything non-work-related that's much longer than a blog post. T

Still if such a thing doesn't exist already (and it probably does) I can visualize a book -- though not by me -- that was structured as a series of blog posts, like a blog in reverse chronological order, so the ending comes first.

Tash: Infancy is not my favorite stage either. (shhh...don't tell anyone).

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Congratulations to Gray!

Julia said...

Happy first acceptance letter! (And many more....)

I am much the same way about Monkey (and as far as I can tell so far, the Cub too). I now know my mother cried the summer I was leaving for college, though she put on a brave face for me. From where I sit for now, I think that I will not be crying when Monkey goes. But I also loved my dorm and my college in general, and I think everyone should have themselves a kick-ass college experience.

Go Gray!

Maggie said...

Congratulations to Gray! And congrats to you too -- you obviously raised a smartie!

painted maypole said...

sounds like you've done a wonderful job of doing what you are supposed to do as a parent... preparing him to be an adult

Amelie said...

That sounds great. I'm so glad for Gray and for you.
As far as I know, my parents were happy to let me go to college -- and I was happy to embark on this journey. Good luck to Gray.

Smiling said...

Bright and boundless future...

I think I spent much of my childhood assuming that if only I could make it to adulthood I'd have that for myself. I don't think I was able to conjure it for myself either. I see it in others, both peers and children, but struggle with it for me. This post got me thinking... thanks!

Best wishes to you.

Antigone said...

just reading thru the comments and i have to ask...for many of us, didn't the ending already come first? but maybe you already thought that.