Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish for

I don't believe God is in the business of paybacks or getting even so I'm not sure who to blame for my current state of heartbreak. Maybe there's no one to blame but myself. For years I wanted nothing more than for my kids to grow up, to need me less, to give me back my freedom. I fantasized about having my own apartment to get away from the demands of parenthood. Unlike most moms I didn't cry when they went to kindergarten, though in retrospect the happy dance at the bus stop may have been a bit much. The point is, I didn't enjoy being a mom in those early years; I wanted them to end. And in the blink of an eye, that's exactly what happened. Now, when at last I’m in love with being a mom, my job is nearly done.

Last night Ian left for Singapore and I'm pretty sure my heart went with him. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've never felt like this. There’s an ache that I'm afraid won't go away for the 120 days that he's gone. I may stop bothering with makeup for the next four months because the tears make it pointless.

I think it’s worse because I know he’s so far away. If he was going to California for four months I might be okay. Even Europe feels bearable. But knowing he’s a half a world away is causing me physical pain. What if he’s lonely or homesick? What if he changes his mind about this whole thing?

I know what you’re going to tell me. It’s going to go quickly. He’s going to have such an amazing experience. You’re being selfish. And I know all of that is true.

I think there’s an underlying explanation for the depth of my hurt and that is the realization that this is only the beginning of losing him (with Abby soon to follow).  Each and every day he grows more mature, more independent (just like I always wanted him to be…practically since the day he was born) and more likely to choose a life somewhere far away from me.

Insert Cat’s in the Cradle song here:

Even though I have a pretty full life of my own, I prefer a life with my kids in it. A life where we continue with family game night and dining out to avoid my cooking. A life where we all yell at Lily to stop barking and stealing food. A life where Ian and Brooke snuggle on the couch and Abby bitches about something or someone at school.

I now fully understand how my parents have felt for years, wanting nothing more than for their girls to be home. I understand how hard it is for them to say goodbye to Dawn when she returns to Colorado from her biannual visits to PA. And she’s not even their favorite.

But I also know what it’s like to be the child who’s hurting them by not being around enough. It’s not a lack of love or appreciation that keeps me from seeing my mom and dad more, it’s life. I have one that’s filled with work, family, friends and activities. And thinking about that puts the pain of missing Ian in some perspective for me. He’s doing what he has to do. He’s experiencing all that the world has to offer. He's living! His being gone has nothing to do with me, other than that I have given him the wings to fly.

If he can do this, I can do this.

Still, a few of your prayers wouldn't hurt...


Johanna Shirk said...

I know you are proud of him and his accomplishments but you should also pat yourself on the back for giving your children the ability to spread their wings and soak up what they can from life. Congrats to Ian and wish him well in his journey.

Renew Erickson said...

I remember clearly when Ned went to Kenya though I think he was college junior at the time. I'm those days you could still accompany your lives ones to the waiting area in the airport. I'm those days also communication was not what it is today. I was pretty much not going to be knowing what was going on with our son during those months away. I understand your feelings, probably all of them. Ned came home, speaking Swahili. How cool is that.

Hugs and prayers

Lisa Starr said...

Well said, Kim. It all goes so fast, and we just have to be happy when we've raised independent adults. You probably wouldn't want them sitting on the sofa forever either! Safe travels to Ian - Singapore is clean and safe and he'll have a great time, and a new perspective when he returns.