The leaves are changing colour as I sit here and type this. It is not unusual up here to have all the leaves on the ground by mid September.
Most years this fills me with dread. It means brown trees, brown earth and a horizon that seems forever blah. Winter can come as early as the end of October and stay for 7 months. This is perhaps the first year where I am willing to embrace the seasons instead of wishing them to go away. Maybe because I am in a different season of my life and I recognize that I have to be truly present in it to reap the benefits of going through it.
Within a few weeks two of my three kids will leave home for good and the third is working full time and has decided not to continue his schooling. For the first time in 15 Septembers I won't be opening new textbooks and burying my face in their inky perfume. That season of my life has come to an end - and not unlike the puzzlement of summer fading - "Where did it go?" seems to be my mantra these days. I don't know where I fit in my kids' lives anymore and I don't know how to sort that out. Truth be told I don't know how to trust that I will still be important to them. It is projection at its finest.
I could not wait to leave home and get away from my mother. Sometimes it felt like she had crawled into my brain and taken up residence there. I wanted to go far away from her so I could have my very own life. I went 2500 miles across country to do that. I never knew that mothers could come along for the ride and I spent the next 20 years trying to uproot her from my brain so that I could truly live my own life. I remember two friends who often told me it was most important what I thought about different things in my life. I couldn't wrap my head around that for ever so long. It took some hard turns and brave conversations to shake my mother loose from my brain but it did happen.
It's been a struggle to accept that my kids need to individuate. They need to become their own person. I don't want to go along for the ride when they leave this home. All right, I desperately want to go along for the ride when they leave but I recognize that is not good. For them or me.
It's one of those times when I rethink my years as a homeschooling mom. A counselor recently told my youngest son that one of the results of being homeschooled was that he was used to listening to me as teacher and mom. That other kids were used to the tension between mom and teacher and it could start a process of individuation sooner. In all reality it probably is simply that some moms want control all the way through, whether they home school or not, and I was(am) one of them.
The other day he told me he was used to doing whatever I asked him (his exact words were: "asking how high when I said jump") and that it was hard not to think he was doing something wrong (like getting his eyebrow pierced) when he followed through with a different choice. It's the kind of conversation that makes me shudder and groan. My good God, I am like that? It was no fun to hear. But we were able to talk and acknowledge the struggle to become ourselves. It doesn't mean I like it even though I see how necessary of a process it is. For so many, many years I believed that if I could get them to see the world my way that it guaranteed them the best path.
It's one thing for me to be in a place where I think my own thoughts....have individuated(at last) to the point where my mom and I are truly separate people. I know it would have been a good thing had that happened before marriage and kids. But it is another to sit here and see that my kids are on the same journey. That I am the one they must separate from to become who they were created to be.
My urge is to bless them as they leave and say, "I release you. Go in peace." It reminds me of the scene in Braveheart where Marin's father reaches tentatively to place his hand on William Wallace's head....he reaches with shaky fingers and then stops, reaches and then stops and then finally makes contact with William's forehead. Both knew it came at a great cost.
I hope I can bravely put my hand on their heads and bless them as they go their separate ways. That I will not do it tentatively but freely. It may be the best fashion accessory they take with them on their journey.