Thursday, August 18, 2016

In Which Change is Experienced, Resisted, and Begrudgingly Embraced


This has been an interesting month, as in the old proverbial curse "may you live in interesting times."

Our family dynamic is shifting around, as my firstborn is now attending college, a reality that seems unreal, as it can't have been long since I graduated college and (mumble mumble counts on fingers) ah, yes. Well, it's a change, anyway. And I have explained this to my children endlessly in true Expository Dad Fashion, that as a parent, it is very difficult for me to separate the reality of the child/teenager/adult standing before me with the memories of this same person as a smaller child/toddler/newborn. It's as if all that time is compressed on top of their being, and I am unable to stop the temporal disconnect when I look at them (to wit: "where has the time gone," "I remember your first day of school like it was yesterday," etc.) This mental timehop is the reason that I call the children by the wrong name. That excuse is less believable when I call them by the dog's name.

And so that's changing. Letting go of the oldest one as he does his best to push away and define himself, while I unhelpfully respond by clinging all the harder. Why can't we stuff all those reality-genii back into the bottle? I demand a do-over! We're adapting to this change in our own ways (I choose denial.)

Personally, the bigger change for me is that I am right now between employers. This is a situation I haven't been in since... well, since the older one was starting school, over a decade ago. I've been feeling untethered and buffeted in these weeks, a balloon come undone into a stormy sky. There's more people depending on me, and the world has changed, and my field has changed, and old Mr. Imposter Syndrome comes a-whisperin' in my ear his little hurtful lies, like: the only thing that hasn't changed is me. Tiny stinging lies are the specialty of Mr. I.S., and they are extra sharp when you're already a little raw watching some young adult stride off to college with a small backpack while you're also seeing him skip off to kindergarten with a giant one.

Parents of school-age children, be warned: the school-Feels are deep and poignant. After their twelve-year slumber, they emerge like soppy emotional cicadas right up on your face. #UglyCry

I am not a believer of signs and portents, though numerous found pennies have crossed my path, and inspiring and courageous words are popping up right when I needed them most. Maybe I'm just more attuned now. Like our sleepy cicadas, I also feel that I've been dozing for years, and now I get to shed the skin and start over. It's a messy process, and I have to confess that more than once I've thought about retreating to the same familiar hole I've just come out of. But holes are dark and close and hard to move in. I'm out in the sun now, flexing my limbs and hardening my skin and even singing my own song. There's a new melody to it, one that I didn't realize it had before. It's louder than stinging lies.

And through all this change, I've found support in the likeliest place, though not the first place I would have turned. My son was there, though he's dealing with his own life changes, his own new job, and the scattering of his friends to all points. He was there for me, backing me up, and is seeing me off to my own new adventure.

So thanks, buddy, for everything you did, for everything you do. For the kid you were and the man you've become. And I'm sorry I keep calling you the dog's name.

Some things never change.


Richard P said...

I'm facing the same situation with my one and only offspring in a year. Hard to believe!

I wish you lots of serendipity and good surprises as you seek your next career.

teeritz said...

That was all very nicely said. My kids are teens and it will indeed be interesting, poignant and a proud moment when they shuffle off to university (college) or work in their chosen careers one day.
Best of luck with the next phase of your own life too.

D. Loon said...

This was beautifully written, and though I'm years behind where you are, I definitely sympathize with changing jobs. I've gone through two long periods of unemployment in the past two years, and it has taken a lot of work to keep myself from curling up in dark holes.

I realize I've been following your blog for almost a decade now. Good grief! I remember your spot-on advice when my firstborn was still a newborn, and am dreading the day when she goes off to college because I'm sure it'll be way too soon.