When they’re little, you watch them with a hawk’s eye, ready to swoop in and save them from harm. As they age, you stand a little way back, hoping they make their own way, and feeling your spirit crushed when they hang back or get shoved aside – metaphorically or literally – by others. But you hang back. Because you’re supposed to hang back. If you don’t hang back, you’re one of THOSE parents. You know, the helicopter ones, the ones who weep for 30 minutes before the long-delayed bus finally transports your precious butterfly off to outdoor camp.
You lay in bed, sleepless, while they’re gone, but you feign sleep for those left behind and for the spouse who already knows you’re one of those ever-fretting mothers. [As an aside, that spouse has also feigned not knowing that I am, too, am feigning. He does rock the nation. I never say it enough, but he does.]
You age. They age, too, far too quickly for your tastes, but soon enough you fall asleep – for real – when they’re working until late or out with friends. And you trust when you awaken that they’ll be there. And every single morning, there they are.
But they grow ever older. (Not to say that you don’t, too, but you don’t care anymore that you’re ancient.) And you send them off to make their own way. And they’re smart kids. They’re good kids. But, whatever their birth certificate might say, they’re still kids.
A 19-year-old was killed this weekend. He was from our town. He went to a college nearby. He was an athlete. He had a good head on his shoulders. And for spring break, he went down south to party with friends. And he’s dead. Now, he’s dead.
I’ll still send Eldest off to college next year. And Daughter a year later. And Youngest just a scant few years after that. And I’ll hope that what befalls others won’t befall them.
And I’ll wish that there was some pixie dust I could sprinkle on them to make sure I don’t live a nightmare that never ends.