My oldest prodigal son texted Friday night. He had finished his last final, submitted his concluding paper and was done with his sophomore year of college. Wow! I thought to myself. I am so incredibly proud. I should be like one of those perfect Moms on Facebook who post the passing of another remarkable feat of their offspring! I should have an airplane carry a banner across Puget Sound boasting that my darling boy is half way through his collegiate career. I should send out cards complete with photos of this accomplishment so everyone can marvel at the magnitude of this achievement. But instead, I ate the remainder of a bag of Cheez-ts, poured myself a healthy glass of Sauvignon Blanc and wondered how the hell I was old enough to have a child who was halfway through college.
No really. I did. I ate Cheez-its and drank wine. It’s gross really, and I apologize to the vintner who created the lovely wine that I paired with neon orange hors d’oeuvres. Yet still. There I was. With orange fingers and wonderment that I am a mother of a child who will be legal to drink in all states in a couple of weeks. (I know my vegan trainer friend will shudder reading this, but parenthood sometimes requires Cheez-its and wine.
It seems like yesterday that I was typing out a collegiate paper (back in the time of dinosaurs when you actually typed dissertations on a typewriter and used white out for changes) and chewing a pencil to nubbins while I finished a final exam. I remember it so distinctly; the smells of unwashed students during an early morning test, the sounds of shuffling feet under desks and the snap of Diet Coke cans in the quiet of the library late at night. How could I possibly be old enough to have a child living in that world now?
A few weeks ago myself and my “ best friend forever” travelled to Mom’s weekend at my son’s university and despite the technology advancements of instant communication, textbooks on your laptop, and final exams delivered on line, I could see that the fun, camaraderie, smells and process of becoming an adult had not really changed much at all. Girls were still nervous about what boys thought, boys were still clueless and just wanted beer, classes were still challenging, and students were endearingly earnest with their thoughts, ideologies and beliefs. It was a through-the-looking-glass-experience and it was beautiful to see my son having so much joy in the process.
Now it is Mother’s Day weekend and my boys are both home with me and I am forever thankful that I survived my college years, found my Usually Lovely Husband and have had the opportunity to be part of the wonderment of raising two independent young men. Motherhood is not a bed of rose petals or the image of perfect family stick figures on the back window of a minivan. It is demanding work combined with dedication, sticky fingers and moments of sheer panic. It is frustrating, exhausting and maddening. However much I adore our progenies, there have been times when I have screamed, cried and wondered what in the world I was doing being a parent. Thankfully I have been surrounded by a community of people that kept me sane or I surely would have been committed to an asylum by now. They have listened when I talked, handed me tissues when I cried, and poured me wine when necessary.
So on this weekend of motherly remembrance I simply want to say “Thank You” to my people. Thank you to my own Mom for providing an outstanding example of parenting and whose voice I hear in my head when I need advice. Thank you to my sisters and close friends for being available by phone, text or email at any minute of the day or night when I need to talk or am desperate for a few words of guidance. Thank you to those who cheer my children at school events, musical performances and sporting venues. Thank you to friends and families who provide a network of community so that my boys feel safe making life choices. Thank you to those who don’t condemn them when they fail and those that cheer them when they succeed. Thank you for understanding that being a Mom is hard work and it is only through sheer luck, some whispered prayers and group effort that we preservere.
My boys are far from perfect. There are no stick figures to put on the back of the family car showing a child who doesn’t want to do their homework, a kid addicted to video games, a boy in a room so filthy that the dog won’t even enter or a college student passed out on his fraternity bed surrounded by beer bottles. But I would not trade them for all the flawless children we hear about on social media or even a zillion dollars. I can’t necessarily say the same thing about my U.L.H. – he is still holding out for a boat, but I love them because they are kind, decent, and funny and melt me with their hugs.
Some of you have known my offspring since day one, some of you are on speed dial on my phone and some of you offer perspective, conversation or simply a smile. All of you have contributed to helping me raise these young men of whom I am immensely proud. The saying “It takes a village” may be cliché, but it is undeniably true. Thank you village people. Your ability to influence the world is not unnoticed.
Happy Mother’s Day to you and your village too