When I realized this would be my 200th blog post, I skimmed back through the files to reread my very first blog.
It brought a tear to my eye (surprise, surprise).
Since that long-ago post, so many things are different. And yet nothing at all has changed. My sons are still the center of my universe, even though the ‘don’t touch my hair’ teenager I described in that first blog has left the nest and my no-change-for-me-thank-you younger son spent 2 weeks this summer canoeing through the Ontario wilderness (paddled 180 km, 18 portages, the longest being 1.6 km).
The very thing our parenting job is about is the very thing that drives a stake through our hearts when it happens: they grow up and leave us to live independent lives of their own.
And those pierced-heart moments are so . . . random.
I’m wandering through our local grocery store, looking for a particular item, thinking, ‘oh, Gabriel will help me find it’ and then crumpling over my cart, breathless with the realization that I will never again round the grocery aisle to see him slinging the milk into the dairy section, chatting with his co-workers. Never see his face light up when he sees me, or follow his confident swagger as he leads me to my errant item.
It took a few moments and some stern self-talk –‘ for goodness sake, Maxine, he hasn’t died, he’s off living his life. Get over it!’ — for me to pull myself out of the cart and continue shopping.
There have been other knife-through-the-heart moments, but gradually it’s getting better, especially when we get missives from his new life, where he’s living in exuberant Gabriel style. I can float for days on the smallest whiff of news because even the briefest of texts lets me know he’s okay. No matter what might be happening in his life or how far away he is, he’s still on the planet and that’s cause for celebration.
So is the “I love you” at the end of every bit of contact.
When I started this blog four autumns ago, I had no idea why, other than I love to write and felt the need to express myself, to share my world-view, to maybe uplift, inspire, delight others. I had no idea where it would take me or who I would become in the writing, I just knew I had to write. I’ve realized since, that part of the reason for that push was a new awareness, on that long-ago first day of school, that my mothering days were coming to an end.
Who would I be without my mothering cloak?
What else did I have to offer to the world besides two wonderful young men?
Since that startling realization, I started following my creative urges. I’ve written and published a couple of books. I’ve started doing Author Visits – 35 of them to date and a dozen more lined up. I’ve offered a few courses. I’ve taken few courses, read a small planet’s-worth of books. And through it all, I’ve kept pecking away at this blog.
I really can’t say why I keep doing it. It’s not like I’m sharing earth-shattering news. And there’s so much stuff out there already. So many words. So many opinions. Why add to the noise?
Because it feeds something in me.
Because the search for the perfect word or phrase forces me to bring clarity to my thinking.
Because at times my writing speaks to others, sometimes even going so far as to uplift, inspire, or delight them. (I was surprised to learn that my blog has 262 followers! I probably could name a handful of friends and family who subscribed from the start just because they’re lovely, supportive people, plus a couple fellow bloggers I now consider e-friends (Hi Lorien and Aynesley!) but who are the rest of those lovely readers? Such a delicious mystery.)
But mostly, I continue to write this blog because it continues to help me find my way.
Some things have come clear:
I need to write.
I was born to Mother.
Others are still hazy:
Write what, exactly? What now? What next?
And even though I know I’ll alway’s be a mother to my boys, once my sons are well and truly established in their new lives, who will I Mother in that intense, challenging, rewarding way that I so love?
What will that look like?
Answers to big questions like that come slowly over years of beautiful questions and deep listening (and 200+ blog posts).
A novel gets written – slowly – one page at a time.
A body of work comes together – slowly – over a lifetime.
A life is lived and our children grow up – slowly – one day at a time.
And time being the quixotic, mysterious thing that it is, at the same moment you are staring down the years stretching to the horizon, you blink . . . and those years (and your children) are gone.
Thank you to Susan H. Smith for capturing the growth of our family year after year. I treasure our album of family photos!
And I treasure our back yard snapshots, too.