I had so many messages about my last post on the “empty nest” – just says how we, as mothers/parents, all feel so deeply and universally about our children; we all feel the heart tug of letting go. I did these funny angels to remember these times…
It’s the end of the day, the end of carnival season, and Valentine’s Day is soon. I lit a candle in the kitchen; one Elizabeth got for Christmas, and made some hot tea. I want to write a few words and cherish this February evening and the fragrance from the candle and the steeping of the tea make it a bit more special.
I love this little pocket of holidays – beginning with Ground Hogs Day, then Mardi Gras (for all of us in South Louisiana) next to Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and culminating with Easter and Passover – so quaint and simple. And then, the first day of spring is in there somewhere. The weather is still unsettled and some days we must stay inside to rummage through our houses, sorting, finding, doing, and some days give us sunshine and we go in our yards to check the buds on fruit trees and move away the leaves to see what might be peeking beneath. I watch the small birds that are visiting in the side yard under my kitchen window, the ones that seem to make the ground move as they do. I wait for the robins to come from the woods and to see a lone honey bee in the sparse clover – it’s the cusp, a place between winter and spring, a place to watch how Nature moves so beautifully from one season into the other.
I look for the signs of spring while holding on to the quietness of winter, quiet here in south Louisiana anyway. I need more time in the winter. I want to write more and paint more, when spring arrives, I am outside putting together some sort of garden. I am so pathetic then, no discipline to stay inside.
It seems there is a conflict as to when spring will arrive according to the Almanac: “As you may have heard, Punxsutawney Phil, arguably the most famous prognosticating groundhog in the United States, did not see his shadow this weekend, which means spring is supposed to come a bit early this year. Of course, as we reported last month, we’re not expecting an early spring. So, now the race is on to find out who is right, the Almanac or the rodent.”
Don’t you love the lightheartedness of this? Amongst a world of virtual images and digital everything, there is still room for a groundhog and the farmer’s almanac trying to decide when spring will arrive! I feel happier just reading this – hope you do too.
I also feel happier looking at some still lifes in my friend, Tere’s early spring yard – so beautiful and so promising. Some people use paints to cover a blank canvas, she uses flowers…
and my favorite…
It was a very early rise this Saturday morning in September – my daughter has ACT and she and her best friend were up and stirring before 6. That was a good thing, however (not ACT, yuk to that rigid one dimensional humbug) getting up early on a Saturday morning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with those few minutes before sunrise – sit outside with coffee. It was so connecting; I felt part of the whole as I listened to daybreak and contributed my small sounds to it. Mostly, it was the birds that I heard – I suppose I never realized how many different sounds they make – how individual they all are – I don’t think nature intended us to all be alike either – this blending concept that is all so politically correct these days and these generic looking people in advertising (you know what I’m talking about – those people that could be of any ethnicity – a marketing tactic to reach as many “victims” as possible), for me is unnatural. Being equal and being the same are two entirely different concepts. I think society does a great job trying to make us all look the same but it falters dramatically on making us all equal – the cookie cutter looks are just ways to distract from the harsh reality of inequality. I love the differences we all have – I would never want to paint a picture with just a tube of blue.
Anyway, the morning was transcending. I suppose I will soon have much time to re acquaint myself with the sunrise and the sounds of the earth waking up – for like the birds, my nest will soon be empty too. That’s a bundle of mixed emotions there. As we always say, where did the time go? I am happy about the lives my sons are carving out for themselves – they are independent lives – they have gone away and found their way, their own way. Hopefully, my daughter will be able to do the same. It is what we want as parents, right? What an internal conflict we feel – we try to raise them to be independent of us and when they finally are, we are happy but we also feel this …whatever “this” is.I suppose without really knowing, we begin from the very first day of their lives teaching them to be independent of us. Well, after about 20 or so years of that, they, hopefully, are – it’s what we wanted, it was our job.
It seems I am doing a bit of rambling here – sorry. I hope, as always, there is something within this post that finds a place in your situation. This motherhood/parenthood topic is something paramount for me and I have a feeling it is important to most of my readers also. Our children are our lives and they are our gauges that read the happiness or sadness in our hearts. There have been times, one recently, when one of their worlds was upside down and it consumed me, it paralyzed me until they were straight again. It’s what we do; it’s who we are. I told a friend recently that I feel as though mothers are like human size filters – everything flows through us as we try to make the lives of our children the best they can be and these heartfelt efforts take their toll and leave the impurities there with us so that our kids can move on.
I refer to my mom many times and I think of her always. She is there in those early mornings when I sit quietly by myself and I can still draw from her wisdom. She once told me – I suppose it was when one of my children had reached a milestone ( like going to pre – k J ) that she was never sad about the “closing door”, instead she looked forward to the next thing we would do. I remind myself of that often and aspire to be so positive towards this natural and inevitable evolution of life.
I end with a public expression of gratitude and humility for the experiences life has given me thus far and I do not take one moment, one gift, for granted as I look ahead with the anticipation of the next chapter and I wish this appreciation and courage for you also. Thanks mom.
I perused over my FB page this morning and noticed the great amount of graduation snapshots and moments. It made me think of a newspaper column I did when my twins graduated in 2006. I am posting for you moms – I know how you feel – these moments are truly bittersweet.
Already, the St. Josephs, and gardenias, and many of the magnolias have bloomed. This passage into spring has been hasty. All year I anticipate the bouquets of sweet smelling gardenia and the lemon, clean scent of our state flower and the promise of spring from the amaryllis. They seem to have come and gone, quickly. I suppose I am too busy, I should take more time to insure my memories of spring, for they must last a year.
All of this bounty and burst of beauty coincides with another passage that is brisk and momentary and brings with it much ambiguity of the heart, graduation. Like spring, you try to hold on and capture each moment and experience each event, but like blossoms, it burst and quickly fades. As festive of an occasion as graduation is, it explodes with sentiment and can make a parent’s heart heavy. While we are very proud of this milestone, letting go is difficult. Even as our graduates are donned in mortarboards and flowing gowns, we find ourselves remembering that sweet kiss on a fat cheek and a little hand that reaches for ours. And we can’t forget that hug around the neck that drew us so close to the smell of childhood. There they are with diploma in hand and full of happiness and fulfillment and here we are still trying to hear the little voice that, seemingly a hundred times a day, asked us “Why”. Listening to the baccalaureate speeches and witnessing the final moments of the class of 2006 physically being together, we search for the little one that we might gather up and rock until worries are gone and peaceful sleep lies on their face, we try to find the tiny laugh that comes from the core of their being and touches the heart of ours. Through soppy tears, we will congratulate you and will continue to be there, cheering you on and remembering.