I thought temporarily about keeping this room a mausoleum in his honor; a room that even though he was no longer residing in would stand a testament to his place in the world as forever our son. For a few months it stood as he left it and we were content to carry on as we’d grown accustomed to in rarely entering it.
But as I’m not keen on going limp in an effort to make it harder for the future to usher me forward, after a suitable period of mourning his departure, I decided it was time to rebrand his childhood room.
And it’s in here that I am putting pen to paper right now on this gray autumnal Saturday, the opening day of hunting season. Save for a bit of itchiness of energy, I’m enjoying this slow burning day.
His dragon puzzle we glued together, after realizing its completion was a hard won victory we never wanted to repeat, still hangs on the day-glow orange wall, a color he chose when one year for his birthday we gifted him with a room makeover. There’s a PAC-man poster and a Yoda sticker by the light switch. Save for these wall hangings, his bed and a few other small trinkets, it’s all that remains of his 15-year long reign.
Now, Mike’s chain mail and our collective books line the shelves and my writing desk sits facing the south wall.
In less than 2-weeks, in the same year we both turned 40 and my mom turned 60, he’ll turn 20.
I’m glad not to be one of those kinds of parents fixated on reliving the past, unable to meet my stepson where he’s at and for who he is right now. I’m glad I’m not the sort to utter such common phrases as: remember when… and you used to be so _____ when you were younger.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a work in progress when it comes to figuring out this new life phase and how best to show up for and with an adult for a stepson. I’m still locating my place in the world of things. But I’m glad to be invested in the process and I trust I will find my footing over time. I reckon it will be like most things: akin to tuning a guitar. My best approach is not to be too loose or too tight but to locate an in between harmony.
One step we’ve taken is to stop referring to our son and his girlfriend, who share an apartment together a few blocks away, as “the kids.” Around the house, we now affectionately call them, “the dragons.”
Don’t ask me how we came up with dragons. There’s no backstory to share. All I know is that it’s working to help us in the process of letting go. And my growing sense is: letting our children go, with love, support and an open door, is one of the best offerings we can give them.