They were here briefly, both of them. And now they've gone north for the summer. And I'm missing them like crazy!
My son graduated, finally, from the U of London and is now off at a "prestigious prep school" in Massachusetts as a teaching assistant for the summer. He is trying out the teaching profession to see if he likes it or not ... so far, he is over the moon about it. I'm just happy he's back on my side of the Atlantic, and happy that he will get the chance to impart his fierce love of English literature to those boys and girls.
Meanwhile my daughter came home from college in Georgia, slept like a log for days, then departed for the other end of Massachusetts, to be a painting/drawing instructor at a coed camp for kids. She was nervous and excited, having never laid eyes on the place before. She was immensely brave, getting on that airplane with her list of counselor duties and her favorite paints, and I think she'll have a positive impact upon a cabin of 11-year-old girls.
I'm proud of both of them, because they found these jobs themselves, aced the interviews and made the travel arrangements. I know they're okay. Mom? Not so good.
I miss summers with the kids in a way I didn't anticipate until now. This is the part of children leaving the nest that is bewilderingly sad for me ... I can rationalize them both being away in college, studying and making friends and groaning over tests and calling home for money and the like ... that's normal and right. There is a season for everything, and fall/winter/spring is the time go away and live the life scholastic. I have my own life, after all.
But summers should be all about drinking lemonade together, playing board games, going to the beach and to grandma's house, complaining about being bored while secretly enjoying it, sleeping really late and disagreeing with each other over the briefness of one's swimsuit or the length of one's hair.
Now my children are, in essence, extending their growing-up season into the three months of the year when I most want to have them with me ... when sitting around talking about life and watching the lightning bugs from the screened porch is so lovely and right, when everyone and everything slows down and reconnection can happen, when they walk in smelling hot and tired and outdoorsy and evoking the little-girl, little-boy fragrances of summers gone by.
I miss that. I miss them. I have to content myself, for the time being, with sporadic phone calls and emails, or pull up the websites at the camp and school where they are and peer at the screen for a glimpse of them in photos. Or (yes, I admit it) going into their rooms and pulling out the jackets they each wore home and burying my face in them, just to believe their spirits still linger in my house.
Being a mother is all about connection, separation and reconnection, sometimes coming so rapidly that it takes your breath away. I can't hate myself for wanting the good old days of summer to return, even as I'm proud of them and their efforts to fill the summer months with growth. I just have to "ride the wave" until August, and do some growing up myself.
Ellen is a 50-year-old mother of two, stepmother of two, who lives in North Carolina with her family.