Monday, August 22, 2016

Fried Green Tomatoes

A couple of times in my life I have had an overwhelming feeling that something is absolutely the right thing to do, but it shouldn't be. Does that even make sense?
It is 4:42am and everyone in my family is at home, asleep in their beds, except me. This part isn't new. I have always had insomnia. The reason for my insomnia tonight is entirely new. I am experiencing something  I never have experienced before.
My baby is leaving the nest. I know he will be home. Probably quicker than I anticipate because in a family of six, the schedules consume us sometimes and time goes by too quickly. But herein lies the problem.
Time has gone too quickly.
I know I have done it right. Everyone keeps saying this. "This is a natural step. This is what you want. This is the goal you have been working towards since he was born. This is the right thing to do-to say goodbye and send him out into the world. A successful launch!" My mind knows this. My heart is the one with the misundertanding.
It physically hurts. But it also feels so exhilirating to have him going to a place I adore, to do things I never even imagined doing! I couldn't be more excited for him.
I am also excited about the dynamics changing in the house. Grayson stepping up to the plate to be the sensitive, ever caring big brother. Sawyer, the hilarious brother having more space to be himself without being called to order. I think it willl be fun to watch Sterling come into her own even more than she has this past year. In all of this process (it has been a process!) I have been selfish and I feel badly about it. I have been consumed at times about how this shift, Finn leaving, would influence me and my life.
The other day I saw a post on a friends wall with a picture of her dogs waiting and watching as her son left for college. The dogs could clearly sense the shift. I started thinking about the three left behind and how they must be feeling in all of this and I felt a new sad. It wasn't about Finn leaving it was about the others feeling left behind. I went into to "mom-hyperdrive" trying to explain that it is natural Finn is leaving. All of those things people have been telling me for months. It felt hollow saying it, just as hollow as it felt hearing it. The boys wept. The uglies. It tore my heart and physically hurt. But it also brought me a weird joy. The boys are close. Very close. They argue and whine and fight and say things that are hurtful sometimes. But they love each other. They have worked at it, I have fostered it. It makes me feel like something went right. And still, seeing their tears felt so gut wrenching.
I vividly remember the first time I felt this way. I saw Fried Green Tomatoes in the movie theatre. I was crying because the daughter had died but then the script called for something hilarious to happen and I started laughing. Through my tears, I was laughing. It was disconcerting and comforting all at the same time. My brain didn't know what to release and my heart didn't know what to feel. It seemed entirely unnatural. I feel the same way now. Torn between two powerful emotions.
Then my step-mom started texting this weekend that her 93 year old father was in the hospital. She was saying goodbye to him. He was leaving this earth and she wouldn't see him everyday anymore, She wouldn't have him around to take to the Dollar Tree or to hear his life stories. She knew she wanted him to be released from his pain, but that would bring on a sadness of its own. Her sadness brought my sadness into perspective. It didn't have to mean my emotions weren't valid, it just helped with the view. Finn is still around and still a big important part of my life. Finn is still an important part of my life, I will just access him differently. I think my irrational concern about Finn not being in my life is driving a lot of my sadness.
I shouldn't be this sad. But I am. Sad-Happy. It is the last time the house will be this quiet with all my babies here as my babies. I know Finn will be home at Christmas. He will be his own person even more so than he already is now. I am excited to watch the man he will continue to become. Even if I am watching from  somewhere other than sprawled across the foot of my bed as he relays the details of his day and life to me. Right now I know where all my babies are and I feel safe in their safety.
I will let excitement win in this battle of emotions. I don't want Finn to feel any hesitation or reservation about leaving for school, or at least any more than is natural. He too will have many conflicting emotions over the next week. As we are in Provo prepping for his new life, which involves my exit into the background, he will need my silent support. I need to transition myself and not be "the mom" holding on for dear life to his bed post as "the dad" pulls me away. I'm cooler than that :)
I also saw a post yesterday with the hashtag #chosenfamily. I wonder about this notion occassionally. Would I choose so and so, would they choose me? Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me sad. But forever and always I want my children, and right now mostly I want Finn to know, I choose him. I love spending time with him, laughing with him, learning from him. There is some generalization about teenagers-that they are miserable to be around. I have never found this to be true. I think teenagers are awesome. People say, "Oh, it is a hard time when children leave for college, because right as they become cool people, they leave." Finn has always been cool to me. He has always been someone I enjoyed spending time with each day. I like my children I don't just love them. I will miss hanging out with him. I am sure that is part of the sadness as well. A friend is moving away.
It's time and I know. Our relationship if shifting and my role is changing. I get it. Just like teaching him to walk and eat and love and work, this is another role in his life I was born to play from the moment he was born. It's just that the moment he was born feels like yesterday and I'm not sure I have had enough rehearsal time.
I wonder if I have taught him all he needs to know. Do I need to pen some Rob Lowe essay for Finn to "get it all" as one culminating life lesson? I hope not. I hope he already knows the basics. That I love him. That I tried my best. That I love God and that He loves each of us individually.  That all I want for him is happiness, whatever that looks like.
Finn, I love you.