Have you ever heard the theory about why humans are pregnant for 9 months? Some say it’s nature's way of giving us time to adjust to the impending leap into the unknown. I was inordinately afraid of the pain and panic of pushing an actual person out of me. Now I marvel at my fear that labor and delivery were the hardest parts of the journey. No, I didn’t really enjoy being turned inside out and squeezed like a tube of Crest. But once we were all swaddled and calm, I had to come to terms with the notion that our cozy unit of two had a new roommate. A really loud, messy, demanding one. Here was this big, howling presence that would change everything. Thank the lord that we had some time to try and prepare ourselves. We did what we were supposed to do: painted a nursery, bought onesies and bottles, stockpiled Huggies. But nothing prepared me for the emotional fault line of welcoming a first-born.
And now, after many years with our shoulders to the wheel, I can say the same thing about the first-born’s senior year of high school. We’ve needed these 9 months to adjust to the fact that he’ll be “birthing” again into a new chapter. The heavy-lifting part of our job is winding down. No complaints here – he’s healthy, happy, curious, kind, loving and getting ready to go off to college. We are, of course, excited for him, proud, relieved. We're blessed that this is the natural course of things and we wouldn’t want it any other way. So file this in the category of First World Problems: despite the happiness and relief, we’re all feeling a bit challenged by negotiating this unfamiliar terrain.
Over the last several months: the boundaries have become a little more fluid. The whole family has been wrestling with the new normal. He can’t wait to move on and out. And to remind us incessantly, that “I’m 18!” Well, excuse me, sir, but BFD! You still live in my house and I’m busting a hump to pay for everything involved with turning you into a Hokie. We’re getting used to him not being home that much anymore but confident in the knowledge that when something big happens in his life, he still texts Mom and Dad immediately. When he is home, he still might greet me at the door with a hug. I still throw my arms around his neck, or get a peck on the cheek, or whisper secret jokes in his ear. Except now, instead of stretching to hug me, he bends to make it easier for me to reach him. I am struck that I have spent so many years in the labor and joy of nurturing, loving and tripping over the tiny acorn. And now I have come up short having smacked face first into the oak tree.
So we wait impatiently to walk through a new door. Well, to be more accurate some of us our standing on one side of the door, watching Teen Spirit about to head on through to the other side. So many years, but it seems like a very similar passage sometimes. His still big howling presence is about to turn everything upside down and change it all over again.