Monday, May 19, 2008

As Time Goes By...


Since "Hussy" originated with the old Norse word for housewife, I hope you'll forgive me if I write today as a "housewife" - and specifically as a mother.

This past weekend I watched my son graduate from University and take the final step away from home into his own life as an adult. It's a bittersweet time, filled with memories, laughter, excitement and tears. The congratulations shower on the graduates (not unlike the rain in Washington DC yesterday) and these young people flower in the adulation and praise of family and friends. Which is as it should be. They have spent most of their lives in the educational system, and the last four years have passed in an intense fog of classes, projects, hangovers and keggers.

So as I sat on the Mall and found my eyes filling with emotion, helped along by the sound of bagpipes ushering in the graduating class of 2008, I got nostalgic and wondered where the time had gone, and if I would have done anything different.

The answer? No.

To anyone out there with kids - toddlers or teens or in-betweens - my message has never changed. Enjoy every minute you can with them. Appreciate the two year old tantrums, the impossible school projects, the first crush and the driving lessons. I sat in the drizzle and remembered the fuzzy footed sleepers and the ragged pink bunny. (Bunnicula. I still have him tucked away in tissue as befits a precious friend.) I remembered the Minke whale project. (No, I didn't save that. The Pepsi bottle cracked.) I remembered those first days of Junior High (aka Hell on Earth) and the first time he drove himself to High School, so proudly - and so carefully.

I remember the agony of waiting for word on early acceptance to the college of his choice and the way he yelled for joy and hugged his dad when it finally came through. And I remember the uniquely distinct "fragrance" of a college dorm room containing four freshmen. (Urp. Call the Haz-Mat squad!)

Some people asked me why I gave up what they perceived to be my life/career to be a full-time mother. I always considered myself blessed that I was able to do so, and never apologized for it. Yes, I put a lot of my own interests aside - parents have to, no two ways about it. I traded a fulfilling job for one that involved diapers, pre-school and GI Joe. I gave up a paycheck for Nintendo.

And this past weekend, I have never been more proud of any single thing I've ever done in my life. Yes, I'm very proud of every single one of my books, and rediscovering my love of writing filled those places that would be empty with my son gone. I guess I realized how truly I have been blessed over the last almost-quarter of a century. I've raised a son (with hubby of course) who is now ready to take on the challenges of adulthood. Who has a job. Who I admire, and who makes me laugh. Is he perfect? Nope. But who is? I've written a lot of books, gone to a lot of different places and happily travelled down a lot of new roads.

But when all's said and done, what I will remember most fondly is the day my son toddled from his bedroom in his sleeper suit, his blanket and his bunny under one arm and his first laptop under the other. It was at that moment I knew he was destined to walk his own path in life - and I had to let him.

Writing is now the major focus of my day. I like to think that each book is a tiny little legacy that will enable me - in some small way - to leave an impression on the future. That somewhere, sometime, a hundred years from now, a reader will stumble across one of my stories and find a smile or two.

But I realized yesterday that the biggest legacy I shall leave behind is my son. He IS the future - he and his fellow graduates.

And there is nothing that makes a Mom more proud than knowing that.

Give your kids a special Hussy hug today. Tomorrow you can go back to tormenting your man!!!

3 comments:

Sally Painter said...

Congratulations on your son's gradation! Your post said it all.

Raising a child to become a valuable adult within society is truly an amazing accomplishment and one that fills us with pride!

In retrospect, I think the one thing I have gotten right as a parent is the big L - LOVE. If you have an abundance of it in your life, then for me it marks a life well lived! Hugs and Congrats!

NathalieGray said...

*snif*

I'm going to give my little guy a hug right now!

Congratulations on raising another human. May he live long and prosper :)

Now go torture your man!!!

Ciana Stone said...

okay, you made me all weepy - not an easy task. But I so agree with you Sahara. When my kids were little I arranged my life around theirs - working after they'd gone to sleep and turning down more offers than I accepted because it would have interferred with something they were involved in (dance, martial arts, sports, debate club, drama, etc).

I don't regret one moment of it. Sure it made the career falter and stall. But given the choice of a stalling career or turning my children over to others ... well the choice was a no brainer. Kids first.

Toys, computers, dance lessons, music lessons, martial art lessons, bikes, cars,clothes? Too much money to calculate.

Time spent helping with homework, being the taxi, putting up with a houseful of friends, shaking my head at their first hangover, listening to their woes over their first heartbreak? Hours that can't be measured.

Seeing them today as the good, decent, funny and unique adults they've become? Priceless.

Yep, it's all worth it.

Thanks for reminding me:)