One day you will fly

Fly like the wind, my boy
when you find that one thing
the true thing you were born into
embrace it, and
fly like the wind.

For so long I’ve tried not to think
of the day you will fly away
instead, I tried to lift you up
and give you wings,
hoping you would not go far,
hoping you would always return.

Now I see you already soar
the way you were born to,
your circles around the sun
ever wider,
destined to light your way,
destined to light your life.

In dreams, we may run-fly-wander
through fields sun-kissed with wildflowers
but already I see you above me, stretching free,
head tossed back in rapture:
Fly like the wind, my boy.
Though you roam,
this, here, will always be home.

So go, embrace the sky,
I will wave each time you pass by.
Fly like the wind!

 

On NaPoWriMo day 14, a poem for my son the day before his 11th birthday, inspired in part by his newfound love (and skill) for running. 

Growing Pains

He’s struggling, stretching between the little boy he’s been and that older person he can see in the distance, the shadow of himself he thinks he’d like to be.

Already he’s rebelling, fighting against the life he has, asking for something different, though he’s not sure yet what that something might be.

Tonight I found him separating his belongings: things to keep (books, achievements) things to discard (Lego, costumes).  Resolute, he grows the one pile, the discard pile, faster than the other.

When I ask if he’s sure about this item and that, he gives me that look, the one that tells me he has been sure for some time, for as long as I’ve pretended time was standing still, for as long as I’ve tried to believe things will never really change.

Now I can see it coming. That moment he eventually casts home into the discard pile, when life for him consists of some hitherto unknown collection of not-home items, when the past remains and he is gone.

And so tonight, when he asks me to snuggle instead of reading to him, when he asks me to warm him up, I climb willingly into his soft, dimly lit world and hold him tight. When eventually I extricate myself, insisting it’s time to sleep, I do so wondering why I didn’t just stay the whole night.

First Flights

As I navigate through another quiet morning, another start to the day with my son out of the house, I realize I follow the same routine whether he is here or not. It is quieter, sure, but my mornings and evenings now naturally, instinctively, follow this routine. A routine that has been 10 years in the making.

Ten years of carefully cultivating a schedule. Predictability. Of feeling responsible and being responsible for guiding another life, ironically, to a place that I can start letting go, bit by bit, to see how he manages the first small flights on his own.

This is how it starts, the emptying of the nest, though there are years yet left to go. Years of adjustment for all of us. I wonder what our schedule will look like as those years change our patterns, what my routine will be when the nest is empty. But I don’t want to think about that eventuality just yet.

On Friday, our school board had a PD day. I realized this at 3pm on Thursday and almost enrolled the boy in his usual after school program, but my husband said he wanted to spend the day with him. Usually, my husband has so many work projects on the go that this just isn’t possible and he often laments the fact that he doesn’t get to spend the fun times with the boy that I do. I was thrilled that they would have some time together.

Friday morning, he told the boy to dress nicely and off they went to a fancy hotel for breakfast, while I threw some granola in my lunch bag and headed to work.

Mid-morning, they called me from the car. “We’re going to Montreal!” they shouted exuberantly into the phone. “See you tomorrow!”

All day, my phone silently flashed with pictures of their exploits. I watched from my distance, bemused.

Of course, my son heading on a road trip with my husband is hardly an emptying of the nest. But it is a change, even a small step in that direction; for 10 years it’s been my son and me, for 6 years it’s been my son and my husband and me. Only every now and then is it the two of them. This is a good thing. They are still getting used to each other, even now, after living together for almost 6 years.

Friday evenings we usually clean the house as a family. It’s an established part of the routine. Not wanting to have to face a Saturday with chores, I spent Friday evening cleaning in the solitude, my mind wandering. It took me 5 hours to get everything done but still I was in bed at pretty much the same time I would have been if they’d been here. The routine remained intact.

Saturday morning I still woke up at 7:30, still got out of bed at 8. Like clockwork. They returned home shortly thereafter but my son went off again, this time to a friend’s house for a sleepover, mid-afternoon.

My mother-in-law came for dinner, which we ate in the garden at the same time we have dinner every night. My husband and I, though we had all the freedom that comes with an otherwise empty house, were still in bed at the usual time, watching the show we’ve been watching for weeks. We went to sleep at the same time we do most Saturday nights and again, we were up at 7:30.

I have time to write before I pick up the boy from his sleepover, but that’s not vastly different from other Sundays, either.

So, here I am, writing, thinking about schedules and slowly emptying nests. I have glimpsed what my life will be like in 8 to 10 years when my son has moved out and perhaps superficially it won’t be much different, though I can only imagine (and I try not to) the size of the hole his absence will leave me with.

Maybe I cling to the routine because it makes his absence feel temporary. Maybe it’s relief that I’m feeling as I reflect on the extent to which my life doesn’t change when he’s out of the house.

Though I like to know he can fly, though it makes me proud of him, I’m glad it’s not anywhere near the time that he will fly away.

That Whole Empty Nest Thing

It is early morning and the sun is blazing at angles I don’t usually get to see. My toes are still cold from waiting for a bus that was late, a bus that is currently taking my son to yet another ski hill on this very cold morning.

I’m feeling a bit bittersweet as I drive back through the barely-plowed streets towards home. It’s nice to be up so early, to see the rising sun golden on the blue snow, to know that I have a very long weekend day all to myself to do with as I wish.

But it’s also the first year since my son was 2 that we aren’t heading off to Winterlude, which has just started. He’s older, able to go off snowboarding on his own each weekend, to all sorts of hills, many of which I’ve never even been to. Of course that sounds more fun and more age-appropriate than lining up for 45 minutes to slide down a short little ice slide – the same one we lined up for 7 years ago – though I never minded standing in line chatting with him.

He’s having experiences that are all his own, without me. And so he should.

It’s good for him to be independent and it’s probably good for me, too. I’m proud of him, his ability to get on a bus full of strangers, spend a day with them, and come home with new friends and new stories to tell. Week after week. I would have cowered at the thought of doing that at his age. And now, I would probably be too lazy.

I know I will get things done today that I can’t always find the time to do. And I will do the regular things at a more leisurely pace because I have all day. And I will probably still run out of time, and will vaguely but not really wish I had just another hour to myself.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, letting your kid just go. I mean, I know he’ll be fine and I don’t worry about him, but it’s not easy in that big picture sense. It’s not easy doing the things we always did together, alone. And it’s not easy watching as he eagerly stretches his wings and starts to take little test flights away from the nest, no matter how much I might encourage him to do so.

Ugh. Parenting. Sometimes the only thing to get you through is a good book, a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate.