Faster than…falling down a hill
I keep having this recurring dream. I dream that I am standing at the top of a very high hill, and I can see forever stretched out in front of me. The way is clear, everything is in order, all is well. I start to saunter my way down the hill, slowly at first. But no distance seems to close between myself and the bottom of the hill, and as I continue on, my legs start to move faster and faster, and soon I’m doing a full-out sprint, racing towards an end that I can no longer see. My arms flail about wildly, my hair is in my face, and I can’t believe I’m not falling down…
Wait – this isn’t a dream – this is my life! It’s a fast-paced metaphor for the nasty trick Time is playing on me as I try to negotiate the baby steps necessary while my three daughters move into the next chapters of their lives.
Baby steps my butt. Try gigantic leaps.
I think I last wrote about my kids when the eldest took herself off to university last September. Not long after she moved away, her younger sister, who had lived with her father for five-plus years, moved back in with me. In between the two moves, my husband and I had about a month and a half to treat my youngest daughter like an only child (a rare treat for a youngest-of-three, so I’m told. I’ll never know). Before my middle daughter moved back, I had envisioned the eight months that Ivy was away at school as a time to really help the youngest transition into the teen years. Not that she was having issues; we were just really tight, and I had planned on maintaining that bond until she married, or sometime around then. Instead, one moved out, the other moved in, and a period of adjustment had to occur for all of us. It went swimmingly well, considering what it could have been, and we all got used to being a foursome with one player swapped out for another. Actually, more like a quintet – The Boyfriend is around so often he might as well as have his own room (yes, his own room. I have rules).
We were all doing pretty well until driver’s ed started. The two older girls got into a bit of a competition as to who could finish the course and get her licence first. And it got pretty fierce. Whereas before no one cared who was driving, now there were shouting matches over who got to practice (with my vehicle, I might add) more because she had a lesson the next day. And all this while one of them didn’t even live in the same house!
Their driving rivalry continued on while the youngest quietly slipped in with a crowd at school that I’m not so sure was/is making her be her best self every day. Just as I tried connecting with her, someone would correct my driving from the back seat (literally and figuratively) and I’d have to change lanes to deal with the two older ones.
Fast forward to the end of April, beginning of May. The eldest got her licence and turned 19 within a week. Then the other one got her licence. Suddenly, I became redundant. Our cars and their schedules are being coordinated with as much precision as a moon landing. I watched with bewilderment as my eldest drove off to her summer job all by herself for the first time. How the heck did that happen? Next, her arch rival was driving herself to school. Just like that, our morning drives are history. How the heck did THAT happen? This past weekend, Ivy drove herself to and from work and met my husband and I at a local restaurant for a drink (she had Sprite). But still. That qualifies for a WTF!? Pardon the expression, but nothing else works as well.
This is what my “dream” means. At the top of the hill (read: when I had more control) everything was calm and orderly. Now, it just seems like everything is like my wildly flailing arms – spinning like whirlybird on a windy day. This past long weekend I might as well have had a revolving door on my house – people were coming and going with shouts of “‘Bye, Mum, see you in a bit!” to “See ya, Mum, we’ll be back tomorrow!” to “Later, Mum, my friend’s here now, gotta go!” All three of them, coming and going while I pottered away making cookies in the kitchen (for once I had the dough all to myself, though).
I’ve mentioned my mom elastics here before – that physical connection that I feel with my kids no matter where they might be in the world. And I am loving having all three of them under one roof for longer than a couple of nights. I realized over the weekend that parents experience busy-ness at every age. First there’s taking care of a newborn and a toddler – that’s active busy-ness on the part of the parent. Then there’s the elementary school years – activities, sports, etc. That’s busy-ness on everyone’s part. Then there’s now – busy-ness on their part, while I look on and try to keep track of it all. We move from active busy-ness to passive busy-ness, but it’s no less taxing on the brain, and just as emotional as always. Drat those happy, wistful tears. Do they every stop?
I’m glad my youngest daughter still needs a ride for everything. It’s three years till she gets her licence – maybe I’ll have plateaued by then.