While we were at the Vineyard our big kids got a hankering to stay at the beach all summer long. Hannah’s summer travel job had fallen through when the program’s admissions slipped and they unhired all the college kids they’d promised jobs. This had been a big disappointment. Benjamin was working for us and helping us fix and repair and paint all the odd bits around the house. But this was not exactly thrilling for him much as it might have been for me. I told them that finding jobs and a place to live was an activity we could likely accomplish while we were there if there were serious. And so resumes were made and emails were sent in the morning to a few promising sounding jobs and apartments. And one day they got an answer back on one of the jobs and they interviewed after we got back from the beach that afternoon.. By 5:30 they had secured jobs and by 7 that night we found a place for them to live. It was a shared nannying job for three little boys ages 5, 7, and 10. And the apartment was the second floor of a young family’s house. The whole thing happened fast and felt right.
The next day Hannah started getting cold feet and I talked her though it. It was only for a few weeks after all and she loved the idea of being at the beach. I’d bring Eli to visit and maybe even her dog. Benjamin was tickled and wanted it to hurry up and get here. He misses the city and loved the idea of late night coffee shops and lot of people his age going to concerts on the beach. And as they started counting all the money they were going to make everybody settled into feeling good about it.
Only now I am the one with the cold feet. This is the first time they will have lived anywhere but home or a dorm. They will be there until it’s time for Hannah to go right back to college. (Benjamin too, but he will be living at home for this his last semester) And we are all having such a sweet summer…the five of us. There have been dinners on the porch and hours of badminton. We have skipped off to the farmer’s market, hiked to the river, and read trashy magazines on the porch. What if it was our last summer all of us together and I just shuttled them out the door with all my brave talk about how good this would be for them both? What had I been thinking?
I am a mom of nearly adult kids and the inevitable is unfolding before me. I am supposed to teach them how to live without me, and my default intuitive response was to do just that. It’s a good thing mostly, but some small part of me wants to scream wait, let’s play one more game of pinochle on the porch. My birthday and their dad’s is in August and now neither of them will be here. We have always gone to lots of summer fairs and eaten fries with vinegar and listened to horrible bands play Proud Mary. I am not ready. We had planned all kinds of things for this summer. And they keep remembering friends home from college and wondering if this is the right rest of the summer for them too. (Nevermind that they both also have college friends on the island, or that the place is packed with kids their age looking for summer romances and adventures and new friends from far away) Some small sad voice inside wants to wait for the next second thought and let it carry them away and keep them home.
I won’t do that of course. Instead I will buck them up and send them off to the sun and the sand. It’s my job to make sure they have both roots and wings. But I am just lousy at these transitions. I remember once when I was a little girl and my mom and I had been to the Muny Summer Theater to see Peter Pan. On the ride home I peppered her with questions about the lost boys. I worried abut them missing their mommies. I remember what she said that night. She said growing up is a lot harder than learning how to fly, because one only needs fairy dust, but the other requires truth. And truth always takes bravery.
I could surely use a little of that fairy dust right about now…