School has started for my 8th grader. My EIGHTH GRADER. Let me remind you, rare reader, that she was one year old when this blog started. A mere clingy baby. I used to write about her more than I do now because back then, she didn’t have Internet access.
Of course, I don’t think she ever tries to find this blog because I am just a mom who matters about as much as a broom. Well, maybe a little more than a broom but definitely less than a flat iron. I am dependable, the person who runs errands for her and will buy Starbucks drinks just to keep her in the car a little longer to hear her talk. I am a debit card and the one who offers food. I am the backdrop in the dramatic production that is her life. I am gravity, taken for granted.
It’s fine. Totally. Fine.
She’s on track developmentally, separating herself from me and distancing herself–unwittingly, I’m sure–from our relationship. I heard a therapist on the radio say the other day that a mother/child relationship is the only relationship we have that starts off close and becomes less close as time passes. (Something like that.) I have a friend who warned me about this, so I’m trying to just take it in stride.
Quite abruptly, my husband agreed to let her attend the nearby public junior high, so now she’s walking to school every morning and walking home every afternoon. No more driving carpool for me (hooray!). The school is four times larger than her previous school and she claims to love it (so far). I hope this was a good choice for her.
(It’s entirely possible that I’ll have to delete this blog post if she finds it.)
In other news, the high school student who had been living with us for 14 months left yesterday for college. Our house is quieter; my son–who shared his room for those 14 months–is sad. He’ll start college classes on Monday at the local community college. He would have preferred leaving for college but made the sacrifice to stay home to avoid accumulating burdensome student loans.
So we are all adjusting to the new normal around here.
My husband just took off two weeks from work and caught up on his sleep and started taking long walks by the beach and enjoyed a nice break from going into the office. It would have been great if I’d been able to take the time off, too, but I have frittered away my vacation time a half a day at a time throughout the year. So while he lollygagged, I worked.
Laundry baskets still circle my office like worthless slumbering security guards. The guinea pig has a cage on my desk so I can keep her company. (Her main cage is in a corner of the family room and it’s pretty quiet in there.) While working, I’ve had the television tuned to the Olympics and Big Brother. I’ve been reading a lot. My books shelves have become messy and I want to sort through everything and organize everything but I can’t seem to carve out enough time for that project.
What really matters? Does it matter?
The death of an old friend of mine has cast a melancholy shadow over my week. I’d known Beth since way before I had kids. She had a four-year old when I met her. She was a sheep farmer’s wife, of all things, and the pianist at a church we planted. I remember the peacefulness of their home and the charm of learning what it meant to tend to sheep. We spent a day during lambing season with them, watching the births of lambs. We attended sheepdog trials at the farm. One idyllic summer afternoon, we sat on the bank of a river and watched the children splashing in the water.
We moved away but kept in touch. The years passed and Beth and her husband had a total of seven children. They had relocated to the middle of Montana when cancer struck three years ago.
And now, after a valiant fight, Beth is gone. She was fifty-four.
Her death has reminded me of my own mortality. I either dwell on death and its inevitability or blithely carry on as if I will live forever. Right now, I just feel glum about the imperfections in my personality and character and accomplishments, such as they are. (Comparison, the thief of joy, they say.)
Have you heard the saying that a mother is only as happy as her saddest child? Some of my kids are feeling sad these days, so I feel sad, too.
I am in the summer of my discontent when I should be thrilled to just be alive with . . . all this.
As I tell my kids, everything looks better after a good night of sleep, so off I go, to sleep, perchance to dream.