Last evening Jess called to check on her sister Allyson. You see Allyson has been out of school now with mono for two weeks in total misery. She talked how it had been a while since Ally and I had gotten the chance to just “hang out” with mom. I, of course threatened to remove all of her favorite treats for when she comes in on summer break. I love spending quality time with my children, but every mother knows when your child is sick, it is not just “time spent.” It becomes more like a vigil.
Every since Jess left for college I have been worried over things as such. What if she gets sick? What is she runs a fever? What if she needs to see a doctor? What is she gets dehydrated? What is she can’t open a can of chicken noodle soup because she purchased the can you have to open with the opener, instead of the pull back tab? Yes, these things run rapidly through my mind. It is not because I think she does not have the mental capacity, it is because I feel it is my “momly” duty to take care of these things. It doesn’t really matter if the store is 30 miles away either, or in college in the same state, I think I would still worry.
I guess we all go through this separation in life. It seems with your children it is a constant. You cry as they go to school for the first time. If you were a stay-at-home mom or dad, it is even worse. When they leave for college, it is another separation. Then they decide to get married. A whole new kind of separation; one in which you relinquish your child, the responsibility of providing unconditional love, a shoulder to cry on when your child is worried or scared, someone to cling to when he or she has a bad dream in the middle of the night.
You think, it is all over, isn’t it? No, actually it isn’t. Because then your childbecomes a parent. When you were the parent of your child and their spouse, at times, you were still “super parent” – able to leap to the ATM in a single bound. But now, your child feels the responsibility nudge. The couple of kids are now the couple of parents raising your grandchild. You want to spend time with your child, but your child can’t, because their child has needs. Then their child starts to take the same steps you took.
Strangely enough, this is the tight rope of life. When you started along the way there was some slack in the rope. But now, your child sees their child as grown independent adults and they begin to mimic those same feelings you once experienced.
I see Jess growing into a college person now. In a few years she will graduate and get married. She will then start her on family. She will be so busy; mom and dad will be put on the back burner, so to speak. As her kids grow and evolve into teenagers, and then off to college they go; she will realize they don’t need me anymore. That’s when you get them back. The phone rings, and that little girl voice will be there saying, “Mom, my baby is in college, and is getting married in the fall.” I asked if they needed any help. He said she was taking care of everything, and he was just hanging out. He would let me know if something comes up though.
I guess no one ever knew there was an evolutionary cycle in being a parent. With all the talk shows, self-help books and psychological theorists, you’d thought they’d have come up with something by now. Some Freudian type of Humanity Vs Displacement theory to justify the shift back into the population, and the return to the Nurturing stage after the dislocation of the grown child’s children reciprocated instead of trying to lump it all into “empty nest syndrome,” because there’s way too much action in and out of the nest for that one.
Published December 22, 2011, Ruston Daily Leader, The Park Bench.