The beginning and an end

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.



9 thoughts on “The beginning and an end

  1. since your last post…
    my first granddaughter eloped and married (she is 22/new teaching job in Oregon) we are so happy for her and her new hubby…BUT we live in Missouri and she seems so far away. i cried
    another grandson started college University of Missouri…i cried again. He and his mom lived with me the first 4 1/2 years of his life..he is like my own. happy for him but he is 2 hours away from home and it feels like Oregon to his mom and I.
    so…time moves on our kids/grandkids have a life of their own. it doesn’t seem fair…they should want to be with us old folks all the time.
    but i am proud as a peach that all my grandchildren (7) will find their way in the world. I pray to God for their protection every day. I know He alone is their safety net.
    life moves on/people move on/ i am moving alone in age.
    I do love my life and praise God he has allowed me to witness these milestones of my family.
    have a great day!


  2. As usual, your writing really resonates with me. You said two things that I had not heard before and now will not be able to stop thinking about: 1) Comparison, the thief of joy and 2) A mother is only as happy as her saddest child. Somehow, this was exactly what I needed to hear today as all I’m longing for is to be able to say “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”… and mean it. Thank you for this post.


  3. Your messages always make me smile – although, at the same time, I am sad. Sad that you have so much on your plate all the time – sad that your child/children is/are sad. Part of growing up, I guess – wondering where we are headed; what we are going to do; why we have to go through this.

    But when you get through all this – and life, being a journey, means YOU WILL GET THROUGH this – you will have more than enough quiet days – times of wondering if you did enough; if you made the right choices; if they will at some point come back and thank you for all you did. Until then, just carry on – just don’t carry those laundry baskets up/down the stairs and fall.


  4. Wow. A lot of change going on in your world.

    A bit of change here too, but more indirectly, as it involves grandchildren and not my own children. I do not do well with change, even when I know that the change is best for everyone.

    What I have found in my life is that I’ve spent most of it trying to figure out what I want to do only to discover that once I have the time to do it it isn’t what I want to do anymore.


  5. It’s always nice to check in and see what’s happening in your world. I’m trying to remember when I started reading your blog, it’s either senility or denial but it surely can’t have been that long, can it? Your youngest is a year behind my youngest. My oldest is headed into her last year of High School and we’re in the process of moving in my mother-in-law to help her age in place, she’s 86, has the beginnings of dementia and shouldn’t be driving anymore. Lots of changes here too. I had heard your quote about comparison but I hadn’t heard the one about sad children, it’s very true and sometimes I wish I wasn’t so empathic–it’s exhausting, isn’t it?


    1. I’ve been blogging for over ten years . . . strange how time marches on and before you know it, so much has passed! And I hear you about the exhaustion . . . hang in there!


  6. Mel, I love catching up with you via your blog. Your life over the 9ish years I have read your blog has been exhausting to mr:). I find myself thinking that one day you won’t be driving the kids everywhere and they will all be grow-up like my son who is 37. The addition of Nana has brought me the most joy I have ever known – easier than being a Mom. So sad to hear of your dear friend’s passing from cancer. Have been there. Thank you for sharing good memories of her…that is what we want to be remembered for and by – our loved ones and good friends. Loved the gravity line So much I interrupted my husband reading in bed. As always, I so appreciate your willingness to share. Diane


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