I’m sure it’s clear to even casual readers that I’m … going through some things right now.
The same two themes, interconnected in a way, keep popping up in my work.
- My mom is dead, and I miss her, and I’m grieving.
- My kids are growing up, and I’m both happy and sad about it.
None of this is a shock to me, necessarily. It’s inevitable, I know, that time will pass. Parents will die. Children will grow. That’s the natural order of things. I get it. But I sometimes feel deep grief for a bygone time when my kids were small and my mom was still here. The beach trip we took. The dinners we shared. The Mardi Gras parades we caught every year at the same spot.
I’m doing better now, in terms of grieving my mom. There are still moments where I get hit with a wave of pure, fresh grief, but I go weeks without crying now and I often remember her with joy and gratitude. The grief is part of me now, in a way that feels almost comforting and familiar: The grief means I still remember her. The grief is my way of keeping her close.
But my kids keep changing and growing and pulling away in new and different ways so that the weird “not-exactly-grief-but-definitely-something” I feel can never quite settle in and get cozy.
My teenager does not want to watch Mardi Gras parades with me anymore. My 10-year-old does not want me to come to her class Mardi Gras party. My 10-year-old still likes me to lie down with her at night, but I know that soon enough that too will come to an end.
Sometimes I look at old pictures and just tear up. I remember when my teenager begged for a special lunch date with me and we got cheese fries and then sat in the grass and blew dandelion fluff in the air and made increasingly ridiculous and improbable wishes. I remember when Georgia wore shoes for the first time and toddled over to me, confused about what was on her feet. I remember watching Frozen with them a million times. I have so many selfies with both of them on my lap. Those days are gone now. What is here instead is lovely – I am proud of the people they are becoming – but it’s impossible to not miss what is now gone.
And now the latest casualty is valentines. It’s been years since I was allowed to make valentines for my older one, but I thought my fifth grader would still be into it. The valentines I made, however, are apparently “cringe.” She doesn’t even want to hand out the candy I bought to go with them.
I guess it’s a relief in some ways – less time cutting out cardstock hearts means more time to do something else – but I let my life get smaller while I was in the thick of raising kids … and now I don’t know what else to do with myself.
But at least I have all of this Valentine’s candy to eat now while I wallow in my nostalgia.