Shooting stars

I read an interesting piece of news on Facebook (cause, sadly, it is one of my main sources of “news”). Here’s what it said “Everybody stop what you’re doing and go and sit outside and look up at the sky for a good half hour there’s a great meteor show” …. okay that’s not really news but a bossy friend in Williamsburg, VA telling me what to do in Germantown, TN!

But I obeyed. My husband and my high school daughter were asleep (cause they have alarm clocks set to 5:30am!!) My 16-days-until-he-goes-to-college son was on the couch on his phone. He just got home from a long neighborhood walk with his girlfriend and was not interested in watching for falling stars with his Mom.

I went out back and stretched out on the lounge chair. It was a beautiful night with rare low humidity. I saw stars and heard crickets. I let my eyes adjust to the dark and searched for movement. All was still until the UFO’s, I mean Fedex planes started to parade across the sky every 2.5 minutes. I knew our airport was busy at night but I have honestly never noticed the activity in the sky. Probably because I’m inside in my jammies at 11:00.

I watched but no shooting stars. I decided to put on tennis shoes and go for a walk for better luck. I once again attempted to lore my son out the door. No luck. He has preferred to go alone this summer or with his girlfriend. From all my studying of teen behavior, this was normal. Separation from parents.  He was my walking buddy for many years. In times of stress and anxiety, I often get nauseous and full of nervous energy. The easiest solution for me was to walk outside. My son would usually go with me and it has been an amazing silver lining to my anxiety. We talked a lot. Mostly ordinary or random conversations but it built a great relationship. It may be what I miss the most when he moves out. In fact, the kids think we need a dog to walk me!!

It’s hard to imagine our family without Jack under the roof. As I walked alone last night, I was hopeful as my eyes scanned the heavens. Hopeful that I would see a shooting star. Hopeful that we could all handle this transition.

I returned to the backyard because I didn’t feel comfortable walking alone late at night. I was peaceful but also aware of feeling alone. Wishing my husband was awake. I was intentional in trying to be comfortable with stillness and quiet. Not praying per se but just being still in God’s presence.

And then I saw the streak of light…

……a falling star!

It filled me with joy. The speed with which it moved and disappeared surprised me.

In the blink of an eye! Just like my son’s time as a child under our roof.

And then, I saw another one. It went a different direction. I’ll name that one Katie!

I’ve heard it said that you can wish upon a star, actually a disney tune is playing in my head now. I don’t remember actually doing it. And I never really liked the pressure of coming up with a wish and keeping it a secret when you would blow out your birthday candles…so no wishing on stars.

I did post on Facebook that I made a wish and I used the shooting star emoticon for the first time. (everyone knows that everything on Facebook isn’t completely truthful, right?)   The prayers and wishes I have for my children and my husband are hard to boil down to one line. And for myself, I am wishing to stay in the moment and experience life as it comes (okay, and a little wishing I could go back in time and snuggle my babies).

I went back in the house and took a moment to be grateful and content that we were all under one roof tonight. And that we would continue to be under the same heavenly sky.

I did not bring my camera outside but here is a pic that my bossy, I mean, inspiring friend in VA posted.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 9.54.39 PM

This morning I read this old blog post on … where else… Facebook. It is a great description of a lot of my feelings by I Mom who has been where I am. AND she used star metaphors!!

Saying Goodbye To My Kids Is Not Nothing!
by Beverly Beckham • September 21, 2014
I wasn’t wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn’t the end of the world when first one child, then another, and then the last packed their bags and left for college.

But it was the end of something. “Can you pick me up, Mom?” “What’s for dinner?” “What do you think?”

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

“They’ll be back,” my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals — not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.

Always is what you miss. Always knowing where they are. At school. At play practice. At a ballgame. At a friend’s. Always looking at the clock mid day and anticipating the door opening, the sigh, the smile, the laugh, the shrug. “How was school?” answered for years in too much detail. “And then he said . . . and then I said to him. . . .” Then hardly answered at all.

Always, knowing his friends.

Her favorite show.

What he had for breakfast.

What she wore to school.

What he thinks.

How she feels.

My friend Beth’s twin girls left for Roger Williams yesterday. They are her fourth and fifth children. She’s been down this road three times before. You’d think it would get easier.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do without them,” she has said every day for months.

And I have said nothing, because, really, what is there to say?

A chapter ends. Another chapter begins. One door closes and another door opens. The best thing a parent can give their child is wings. I read all these things when my children left home and thought then what I think now: What do these words mean?

Eighteen years isn’t a chapter in anyone’s life. It’s a whole book, and that book is ending and what comes next is connected to, but different from, everything that has gone before.

Before was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager. Before was feeding and changing and teaching and comforting and guiding and disciplining, everything hands-on. Now?

Now the kids are young adults and on their own and the parents are on the periphery, and it’s not just a chapter change. It’s a sea change.

As for a door closing? Would that you could close a door and forget for even a minute your children and your love for them and your fear for them, too. And would that they occupied just a single room in your head. But they’re in every room in your head and in your heart.

As for the wings analogy? It’s sweet. But children are not birds. Parents don’t let them go and build another nest and have all new offspring next year.

Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that’s what going to college is. It’s goodbye.

It’s not a death. And it’s not a tragedy.

But it’s not nothing, either.

To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.

To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.

Life does go on.

“Can you give me a ride to the mall?” “Mom, make him stop!” I don’t miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine.


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