My baby is graduating-Cousin Carla Rants. Odd introduces a new Wednesday weekly post. I haven’t told Carla yet; I suspect she will find out though.
By way of introduction, here are five random things about Carla:
- Carla believes that Disney is the happiest place on earth.
- Carla’s cookies are the best ever. Really, if you thought your cookies were good, I am sure that they are, but they are not the best ever. Of course, if you would like me to sample one, just to be sure, I would be happy to send you my address.
- Carla can read and write backwards; she taught herself so that if she was ever on the Johnny Carson show and ran out of things to talk about, she would have this skill to demonstrate.
- Carla lets her boys combine fireworks and gasoline. Blowing things up runs in the family.
- Carla has never had a pedicure.
I was never one of those people who always knew they wanted to be married and have kids. Once I was married, I was never one of those people who couldn’t wait to have kids. When I got pregnant the first time and miscarried, I told myself that things like that happen for a reason. When I miscarried the second time, I was pissed. The lunatic, alcoholic, drug addict who lived next door⎯remarkably married to some type of abusive, second cousin⎯had four (count ’em) healthy children. I lived next door to her for four years and never saw her without a kid attached to her nipple.
Anyway, when I finally got pregnant the third time, and it seemed to stick, I refused to read any of the books; although many of them are helpful and informative about what you can expect, they also tell you every inconceivable thing that can go wrong, and I didn’t want to jinx anything. I was so sure that everything would come naturally. I thought that mothering was an innate gift that each woman is born with. As I labored⎯and I mean LABORED⎯to have him, I calmed myself with thoughts of how much I would fall in love with him as soon as he was born. However, when the doctor held him up and said, “Here’s your son!”, I took one look at his unnaturally ugly face and replied, “Um, no thanks. His Dad can hold him, I’ve done my time.” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the nurse came in to talk to me about post-partum and discuss why it is wrong to hurt our new babies.
I have never taken to mothering as most women do. I remember parts of it being really hard. I remember complaining to friends about it. I remember whining and bitching about it at times. But when I look back on it, I remember loving it. I remember loving that I took them to school and brought them home. I loved baking the snacks and having the friends over. I loved driving car-pool and listening to them talk. I even loved it when they would ignore me and tell rude jokes and slip in curse words to see if I would say anything.
My only regret, looking back, is that I didn’t take the time or wasn’t mature enough to appreciate each and every day like I should have. I have never been good at “being in the moment”; I was usually so focused on planning and supervising and⎯yes, I can admit it⎯controlling events that I didn’t actually participate very much. I’ve been working on this and I am getting much better.
This year I started with the mantra: “It’s Abby’s senior year and I don’t want to miss a thing!” This meant that when she needed someone to drive the percussion section of the band to a competition, I said, “Yes! I’ll go.” When she came home and said her boyfriend was playing soccer 40 minutes away and asked if I would go with her, I immediately called Bob and told him dinner was off; I was going with Abby. I try to be happy and supportive.
“Whoopee! Mom, it’s my last first day of high school!”
“Aren’t you glad Mom? It’s my last home football game.”
“Yay! I’ve been accepted to college five hours away!”
“Woohoo! My last semester of high school has begun!”
“Yeeha! I have six weeks until graduation!”
With each milestone she met, I tried my best to give her what she was looking for: the smiles, the cheers, and absolutely no tears! Those are the rules. This is what happens when we are living in the moment. I want to live in the moment, but I miss the numbness of directing the moment. Although I was physically present at every⎯and I mean EVERY⎯moment of their lives, I sometimes feel like I missed it. I’m not sure this is better, but it sure is different.
I am not a crier; I can truthfully say that I almost never cry. Not at weddings, not when my kids were born, not when I got divorced: almost never. I have hovered on the brink of tears for the last six months. The first time it happened, it was weird and unexpected. I went to register Abby for school while she was at camp, and when I got back to the car, holding her senior schedule, I felt a tightness in my throat and a sinking in my stomach. This strange burning in my sinus cavities. When I figured out that I might cry, it snapped me out of it, and I went merrily on my way. All year I have been creeping ever closer to the abyss. There are times when something funny will happen and I will laugh, and then laugh harder, and then suddenly I realize that I am about to burst into tears. It feels like being on a roller coaster, inching toward the top and having to pull myself back before gravity takes over and pulls me over to the other side.
So my rant is this: I am mad at myself for not being able to fully participate and be happy during this very happy time. Abby’s graduating. She’s going to college. She is happy and smart and was accepted to her first choice school. She loves me and knows I love her. She is only going to be a few hours away. She is growing up and she is beautiful and kind and perceptive. She is my biggest success. And this is my new mantra that I repeat to remind myself to just BE HAPPY!
Thank you Carla-I’m sure a great many parents of graduating seniors share your rant, your pride and your happiness for a job well done.
What about you, Odd readers? Care to share your thoughts about children who have the nerve to take our hearts; leave home with them, all the while expecting us to applaud….just like we always have….?
Other post by Carla:
Cousin Carla Volunteers