Jan 8, 2013

Another Doorway

The Beautiful Redhead's room looks so nice I keep opening up the door just to look at it.  I also laid on her bed in the sun for a couple of hours Sunday talking to her grandmother on the phone.  Tonight I opened it up, looked, and shivered.  The thought in my mind at that exact moment was "You just passed through another doorway", and so I had.

I guess my powers of denial are strong, because The Rock Star left home in 2008 and The Beautiful Redhead in 2010, but until this year on Christmas morning, it had not hit me.  Oh, sure, I "knew" they were gone, but they came back a lot and were always here for holidays.  My rhythm as a mother had not shifted much until this year.

This year we had our Christmas on the Sunday before.  This year my two oldest went back to their homes and worked on Christmas eve.  I was proud that The Beautiful Redhead thought it was sad to see so many people in the mall on Christmas Eve.   This year I got up early as usual on Christmas morning and as I started making coffee it hit me that this year Taylor and Mackenzie were not going to be here.   They would not be at their dad's either.  They were both alone as were we on Christmas day, and the tears just started flowing.   I think I had been holding it off for a while and there was no stopping it now.   It occurred to me that, even worse than this, would be if the twins got up only to discover their mother sobbing (quietly) over the trash can, using a paper towel for a kleenex.  I opened the fridge, grabbed an onion, cleaved it in half, just in case, and then just let it out.  

Some times, when a woman needs to cry, it's better to just do it.  Otherwise, it builds up exactly like pressure cooker and is bound to end badly, at the least convenient time.

As I bawled the voice inside my head kept saying "This is what it is to be a mother" and I realized that she is right.  Of course.  She always is.  We work to make our children self-sufficient and able to build their own lives.  Check that off the list.  Twice.  I swore that I would treasure these last years with the twins at home, even it did mean coming home to discover dirty socks tossed (perhaps shot like rubber bands?) all around the house.  I focused on how proud I am of my older two.  It didn't help much.

The voice said "Would you rather have them unemployed and laying around the house all the time?"  Of course not!  I would want to kill them, all the time.  Much like the twins these days.  I vowed to get those kids moving somehow.

The voice said "You have to be strong.  You don't want to be a burden to them."  No, I would not.  Ever.  This was the real killer.  Children swallow you whole.  At first you resent it and then you just go with it and by the time they leave you are the one stuck in the routine, having forgotten you were ever anything else.  Who cares now?  Not even me!  I tried to look ahead far enough that I could see my grandchildren, but it was too foggy.  I do know it's coming, I've just never been good at patience.

And I realized, as the waterworks slowed down, that when you become a mother, your journey does not stop when the child leaves the house.  I know, I know, this seems obvious if you ever stop to think about it.  I guess I just never did.  Perhaps that was an unconscious decision, or perhaps it was just self preservation.  I doubt I could have been the mother I was if I had realized that it was all going to end and I would end up crying over the trash can, having provided a valid excuse for such behavior, in case, on Christmas morning in 2012!  Some things are better not known.  Probably most things.

Apparently, I have my work cut out for me, now that I understand it clearly.  So I let myself cry, and then I was profusely upbeat the rest of the day.  We made more truffles.  We watched The Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th St. and It's a Wonderful Life.  When I cried, it was always at an appropriate time and always assumed by the twins that I was crying because of the movie, or just because I'm a girl.  They were at least 1/2 right and never guessed the truth, bless them both.  

And I did one more thing.  I planned next year, and it's going to be better.  Next year we are going to plan ahead better, and have extra time, whether it is on the actual day or not.  That way I will be able to feel like they have "been home" and they will be able to sleep late without their mom calling them, not quite crying, and saying how much she misses them and is not liking this not having her babies home on Christmas morning.  Next year we are all making candy and cookies together and pigging out and giving some of all of them away.  Next year we are taking lots of pictures, even if we all look like hell-fire.  Next year we will have time to eat and be lazy and laugh.  Next year I won't be sad. 

Ha.  Gotcha! Of course I will be sad.  Probably forever, from now on.  But that's part of being a mom and raising successful kids.  I freely admit I'm pretty good at denial but this was a doorway that was big enough to be considered a tunnel, and it's very windy here on the other side.  Every single person I have talked about this with said "I think back to how many times I did that to my mother...." and was sorry.  It was the same with me.  I repented of sins I hadn't even remembered over the trash can that morning.   So that's something, anyway.  I guess we just keep living and learning and sheltering ourselves from hard truths as long as possible and then dealing with them.

So that was the low for Christmas this year.  The high will follow on the next post.  We really did have a good time, even if it was spread out a little and none of it fell on the actual days.

So my journey continues.  The harder I try to see the doorways the more wrinkles I get, but I always know when I have passed beneath one.   If you suddenly shiver when you are not cold, you probably just did that yourself.  Sometimes it seems like time is a film that you can't turn off.  You open a door expecting to see dirty clothes and glitter strung all around and all that is really there is an empty room, waiting for someone to come in and live again.   Dealing with Mackenzie's room was just another phase in life that I had to face.  So check that off the list too.  The list doesn't seem to get any shorter, and for that I am thankful.  I really don't know what else to do anymore, anyway.