Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The First Born, The First To Leave

Dakota has moved out. I almost leave it as its own, declarative sentence, but it looks too morbid, too vulnerable lying on the white blank page alone, like a survivor, instead of a branch on a crowded tree, moving toward the enormity of sky.

I seem to meet each emotional challenge with muted emotion the last few years. The almost complete match, cell for cell, of an attached toddler to this mother's body and mind is an emotional undertaking of epic proportions, and my emotions seem to leech out of me along with the breastmilk. I am short sentences. I am the anti multitasker. I am half eaten meals, sleep in the hours on one hand, the same outfit in repeat, the blinking cursor of words that will not come. But the late night hours have always been my invisibility cloak, and I am indebted only to myself, and the emotions come like fat lazy cats and lay across my stomach and chest until the pressure reaches my throat and behind the eyes, and I know what I feel. I feel sad.

When something large happens to you in this life, something that changes your feeling of the dailiness, it all  becomes unfamiliar and strange, you realize quickly how uncomfortable we are with sadness. Those around want to brush it out of a person like dirt in front of a broom. I'd like to say ' I'm sad my son moved out ' without the qualifiers. I know it's natural. I know I'm lucky he grew up and is here to move out. I know he knows we love him, that he is irreplaceable in this family. And that too, and that- yes, I know. Those things are true. Just as true as this: I'm sad. I miss my boy.

My life is rich with love. I have all the love I ever dreamed of having as a little girl- more. And still I am aware of the absence of my son like a crater in the living room next to the couch and the bookshelves with the carefully chosen and framed family photos, like a constant, low grade confusion: this great relationship, the most life changing I have ever had, the birth of my first child, my son, is finished in the way that I have known it. All along I knew this feeling would come. From the time my son was two, I was picking him up when I was too tired or frustrated or distracted, with the thought ' One day I will look back and wish I had held him when he asked. ' I gave the extra hugs, came back into the room that one more time, turned into a better person that I knew I could be when he needed me to, held back my hand when I wanted to spank, kissed his face uncountable times, held his hand until he absolutely refused, put my book down when he wanted to talk, stayed up late when he needed to confess, I did all of this and more because I loved him, and because I knew, always always, that one day the stream of connection would sharply fork, and never again be the same. And here we are, and all of those touches and hugs and sacrifices and gestures of love did not save me from the bizarre and commonplace: my child has grown up. He is no longer the same boy he was. The complex maneuvers of life that move around and around people, shaping them like stones, gems, rock- those I was a part of and those I was not- have done their work, and the temporary attitudes and features and attributes of childhood one by one fell away. Now the nose, the voice, the choice of how hard or long to hug, the interests, the muscles.... all and more carved into something semi-permenant and still permeable, but cut into relief so that the adult mind can come into its own, the soul can make its way through each cellular portal and shine rightly.

He's marching ahead and away and I can see the bright beautiful outline of his face on the horizon, despite time and despite manhood, the same profile that hangs suspended in time in the ultrasound taken when he was all mine, all mine.

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