As I sit here and watch little Mr. W in his swing, I am reminded of another boy I use to watch swing. He was the most beautiful baby; always smiling and happy. He was rarely fussy and I so enjoyed just watching him. Sigh.
Mr. J is sixteen and a half now. He has been taller than I am for several years and is still a very handsome guy. I am proud of his character, his convictions, and the fact that he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is a mixture of goofy kid and seriously, mature adult.
As we have inched our way towards his adulthood, it has been a bag of mixed emotions for me. I am glad that he is becoming a fine young man, but I am saddened knowing that soon (really soon) he'll be stretching his wings and really flying solo for the first time. No longer needing the "mommy".
Just a few weeks ago I drove him down to the camp he works at off and on. We stopped at Walmart and I have to say that I really find it funny that he likes to shop as much as I do (OH! his poor wife!). Mr. J was excited to find a "sweet soccer jersey" for Italy (purchased before they won the World Cup). After stopping for fuel (his, not the cars) we were on the road again.
I like the drive to this camp, because it is over an hour away from home and we usually have some pretty good discussions. We talk about girls and God, books and music, friends and the future. He's a neat kid, this little boy of mine.
All too soon the camp appeared before us and I opened the trunk to help him unpack a weeks worth of clothes, water, and munchies (sent by mom, just in case). As he walked into the main building, weighed down with his stuff, I called out,
"By J_______ I'll see you next Saturday," and started to get back in the car. I am not completely clueless and wanted to spare him the "mommy moment" in front of his fellow workers and campers.
"WAIT!" He yelled from the doorway.
Jogging up to me he said,
"You can't leave without a hug!"
As I started the car, he yelled across the driveway,
"I love you mom!"
Does anyone truly wonder WHY I love this boy...I mean young man?
So the drive home was silent except for those four words that circulated round my mind. As my car sped homeward I realized that I am moving in a new direction in our ever evolving relationship. He is becoming the man I had hopped he would be and I am rushing towards being middle aged (please do NOT tell me I am middle aged right now).
A few years ago I had lamented having no role model for what a middle aged woman looked like. I am not a career woman and could careless about returning to school (eewww!). I'm still at a point in life where I don't have to dye my hair (oh, it's coming, no worries there!). It will be a few years before the sweet name Grandma appears before my name, so where do I go now? And where are the role models for me to copy?
And then it struck me, I don't need to copy someone else to be me! I can be anything! The same phrase I tell me daughter, when discussing her dreams for the future, applies to me too. I can be a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. I can travel, explore, and live. My children leaving home does not mean the end of me, but the beginning of a new me, with wonderful possibilities.
This time around will be different. I am happily married, so I won't be exerting energy looking for a man (you know, once you have one to clean up after, you won't be needing another). I have enough experience that I won't work for minimum wage and I won't have to lie because I'd rather go play at the beach, than work. I am mature enough to volunteer at a woman's shelter and actually have wisdom to share (okay, I'm not that wise, but at least I know more than I did at twenty!). Life post kiddies may indeed be busier than I have been for the last 17 years and perhaps sweeter in a new way.
Which brings me back to my nest at present. My daughter is outside, Mr. W is still sleeping in his swing, and Mr. J just walked past me and gave me one of his goofy, cross-eyed, grins on his way out the door. I stuck my tongue out at him and called him booger-face. It looks like we both have a ways to go, before we grow up.
I wonder which of us will get there first?!