23 days. But who’s counting?
Um. I am.
Seventeen years, eleven months, and one day ago, God gave me the most precious gift of my life – again. Oh, it feels like five minutes ago that Avery Scott Williamson, my second son, was given on loan to me for this first part of his journey.
Right away, there was a special connection. If he had spent some time in the hospital nursery, I would “feel” him needing me and be walking down the hallway just as the nurses were wheeling him to me from the other direction. After the 4th or 5th time, they would just shake their heads in wonderment.
He was an exhausting baby. He never slept. (Who does this sound like, mom?) She would tell me that I just had to nap whenever he mercifully decided to close his eyes for the 10 or so minutes he did a day. Of course, this always happened next to the pineapples at the Safeway.
And, oh my gosh, he is absolutely the most clever person I have ever known. Back to that not-sleeping thing: He had this habit of getting out of bed every night and needing to start the whole “go to bed” thing over and over again.
When he was THREE YEARS OLD – on the night before his 4th birthday, I said to him, “Now, Avery, tomorrow you are going to be 4-years old and that means you’re getting to be a big boy now. I think you are old enough now for the responsibility of staying in bed at night. So, since all privileges come with responsibilities, if you break your responsibility and get out of bed tonight, you need to bring me a privilege to trade.”
I talked to all of them that way. My strategy was to just keep them stupefied on “Big Words and Supper,” but, of course, that strategy only went so far. They all had amazing vocabularies by the age of 8 or 9 and were especially gifted young debaters.
So, anyway, I explain the new “big boy” rules to Avery and he assured me that he understood them and that was that and off to bed he went.
Ten minutes later, Avery comes out to the living room.
“Mom, I need your help with something,” he says.
“Okay, Avery, I want to help you, but first you need to surrender your privilege because you got out of bed.”
“But mom,” he doggedly continues, “this is important. I need to know what socks to wear tomorrow.”
“Well, socks are important,” I stupidly answer, “but first you need to surrender your privilege because we made a deal and you broke it. So what privilege to do you want to surrender for getting up?”
“Um,” he pretends to think about it. “Using my bed?”
Yep, THREE YEARS OLD, and this is how crafty and funny and clever this boy was. What could I do but kiss him all over his beautiful little face?”
There was no disciplining Avery. You couldn’t really take away any privileges because Avery is decidedly unattached to anything. He can make himself happy anywhere under any conditions with absolutely nothing on hand at all.
At a family reunion when he was five, he had all the 80-year olds playing some game in the banquet hall that he invented with his favorite toy – a tiny little broom – and a ball.
I realize as I share these stories with Beautiful You, that I’m breaking my own rule just a little bit, cause here at Life After Tampons we don’t really talk about our partners and our children because we keep the focus on ourselves. Truly, where else do you go in life where you get the socially-approved permission to give yourself the gift of your own life?
But I am sharing this with you because, as my nest continues to empty, it does impact my own personal journey quite a bit. These last two weeks, I’m finding it extremely difficult to get “my” things done. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to be with people.
I don’t want to do anything but sleep, and then sleep some more.
This is always a warning sign for me because I’m not a sleeper. My good friend told me this morning that she also suspects that my inertia isn’t just because my grief that Avery is leaving, but also all the grief underneath it.
The baby that didn’t grow up. The divorce and the way that ripped all of our lives apart in a way that can never be reclaimed. That had so many repercussions – my eldest son moved in with his dad in the middle of his Junior year of high school, so he had already left before he left.
So much sadness wrapped around so much joy.
I always underestimate the complexities and subtleties of my grown-up life. I’m not really equipped for any of this. And yet, again and again, I find that I must be. There is still one son who needs me and deserves his turn. There is that delicious Italian who wants a LOT of me. There is beautiful you.
Oh, how in love I am with Beautiful You. Truly truly truly, you cannot know.
So, I soldier on. I don’t really know how to do this – this leaving thing. Every other time – losing my father when I was 11, the daughter who died, the surprise divorce, the son who left early – the change was thrust upon me.
Suddenly, someone I loved was ripped from me.
But this time, it is the longest goodbye. And I am so very very proud of this man who is my son. So very very proud.
When I started this journey with you two and a half years ago, I didn’t know where we were going. I have a much clearer idea today, and I’m going to share more about that with you next time we connect.
But what I do know is this: The only way out is through. (click to tweet)
The journey is what matters. We don’t get to see the whole plan at once. Every morning, one day at a time, we simply rise and do the best we can to point ourselves in the direction of what feels like the rising sun.
And, we stay in touch with ourselves and each other along the way. Please tell me, love, how are you doing? What do you need next? How can I support Beautiful You.
I’m gonna have some extra time on my hands in just a few weeks, and it’s all yours, love. I am all yours.
P.S. In just over a week, we start a new chapter over in the Chapters Program. Our theme for the month of August is “Insisting on Happiness” and I’m creating a “Sunshine Manifesto” for our Chapters members. I’d love it if you’d join us. Here’s where you go to register.