I wrote a blog entry when both my children were in high school, about how parenting is a series of good-byes. And in reality, the truer statement might be that life is a series of good-byes. People and places we love and care for. Which eventually, often times more than once, we have to tearfully tell “good-bye”.
It’s back to school season. And I hear stories plus see social media postings of parents. Emotional parents who are caught up in the moment. Which is not a negative thing. It’s good to celebrate a child moving forward. But it’s interesting once you reach my stage. I no longer have kids in the public school system. No longer go through the drop off line. No longer insist on a text message after the afternoon bus drop off. Everything has changed. And everything will eventually change for everyone. But for now, today, I understand my peers’ sadness, their pride, their amusement in all of it.
I am afforded a blessing. One last good-bye in this regard with my son. He is going to grad school. Far away from his undergrad program at the University of Louisville. Where he was 70 miles from home. Where I could jump in the car and visit, often times in a spontaneous manner. He is headed to Boston. A city I’ve never visited. A section of the country I’m unfamiliar with. A place where the accents are different from what I’m accustomed to. Let’s just say it will be different than the kindergarten drop off in that we won’t be able to head to Sonic for a slushie when he’s done with the first day. Different from all the drop offs ever.
Yet I’m thankful for the opportunity. To see him off. Drop him one last time. Make the trek, a good distance from my home, in order to ensure he is settled and ready. It will be an adventure.
Parenting is a series of good-byes. That’s for certain. But it’s also much, much more. It’s a series of places. Specific places like the four elementary schools my son attended (yes, we moved a lot) and the Cardinal Run baseball fields. The high school band room and Granny’s kitchen because she is always open to him cooking a dinner. PaPa’s little golf course he set up out front and Raven Run, where we like to hike. The library. All the different libraries through the years. Art museums in St. Louis and Cincinnati and New York. Churches. Ichthus. Camp sites. Swimming pools. Where the Texas Rangers play baseball (I think the stadium has a different name now than then) where we saw A-Rod and Teixeira play before they were Yankees. Our house on Lansill. Memphis, which he barely remembers if at all. The hospital room where he greeted me, the day after his sister was born. Mexico via cruise ship. His sister’s apartment in NYC. Restaurants in Manhattan. And St. Louis. The Mayan Cafe in Louisville.
Places. All the places. And now another. Boston. Yielding in itself a myriad of other places we’ll remember. He’ll remember. He’ll share. With his girlfriend and his sister and the friends he’ll make in grad school.
I’m sure I’ll write more about our adventure. Our drive from Louisville to Boston via Niagara Falls. My drive home. Alone. Time to reflect in solitude and probably drink a lot of coffee.
I’ll come back to my place. My home. Which is forever changed because my children both have their own places. Not forever places. But places they currently belong. That’s a good thing. They are free and young and learning. And they have a spot to come home to at the end of the day. I’ve learned home is not always a specific, one time for all time place. It’s the actual place where you’re most welcome. Most comfortable. Most able to be you. And sometimes that place is one thousand miles from your mailing address. Sometimes it’s your workplace. Sometimes it’s where your youngest child has placed a bed and dresser she purchased on Craig’s List. Places matter yet they don’t. They’re markers, really. People, in other words, relationships, matter. They’re what bind us and anchor us.
There’s relief in that. That I don’t have to keep up a specific place. Don’t have to hold down the fort, so to speak. I just have to hold down myself. Which is, in itself, a mighty task. To remain sane in a world of change is at times astronomically difficult. Life is ever shifting, at least for me. Places become memories. Good and bad memories. And much in between. Much is simply ordinary life. A place in my heart though. For them. My children. And others who are a part.
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
And I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I loved you more
In my life I loved you more
In My Life, a song by Lennon & McCartney (yeah, The Beatles), incidentally ranked #23 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (yeah, I am a sucker for these type of lists….) I might just make a playlist utilizing them (maybe not ALL 500 of them) for our long #$% drive to Boston.