I almost never see a dandelion patch without thinking of a little child – student or son – arm outstretched with a loving fistful of droopy, yellow dandelions for me. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve received one, I’m caught a little surprised at how nostalgic I feel about the prolific yellow bane of our backyard.
There are scads of books on mothering and parenting and raising children. How-to tomes. What to expect, what to avoid, how to be hands-free and all that. Maybe mothering today’s a bit more complicated. Or so it’s probably always been to anyone who’s living it.
Personally, I’m at the far end of the mothering spectrum. And I’ve found few books to guide me. There’s a few about boomerang kids, but not much else beyond transitioning through the teen years and we’re past that too. And as far as flying objects go, I’m not much worried about boomerangs and more concerned with balloons.
I’ve had a whole handful of four, beautiful, bright, helium-filled, boy balloons and one-by-one each string loosens from my grasp. One day soon, the final of the four will lift, floating off free. And away from me. As should be. After all, independent, self-sufficient, productive citizens are the end-zone goal.
It’s just that when it comes to expecting … no one ever talks about what to expect at this point in the child-raising timeline. Saying goodbye is not something you think about as you rock your infant, chase after your toddler, or sit across from your child’s teacher at a parent conference. Honestly, raising children is about as in the moment as it gets. Who has time or energy to think about the future when the here and now is so very consuming.
Truth is, the little dickens start leaving and living their own lives from the very first defiant, No! They have thoughts, dreams, and ideas of their own, and sooner or later – you’re in the way. You know it’s coming, but somehow you don’t expect it. Each milestone stands on its own, a point on the timeline toward departure. And once that last balloon wrests itself free, you watch it float skyward and wonder whatever in the world you’ll do next.
It’s been a wild ride couple of decades through each age and stage, but no fair lasts forever. Near as I can figure out, mothering young adults feels no less puzzling than the first years did. It’s another stage, another question mark in the life-long series I signed up for. I’m guessing I’ll be finding my own way just as my children find theirs – each of us simultaneously starting a new stage of life, on our own – together.