The Dragons

The dragons, standing outside of their first apartment

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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.

 

Transitions

I’ve been investing intentional practice around the fact that my stepson is growing older and will soon be “out there,” left to his own devices, since even before he entered high school, so as not to not experience what I’ve heard so many parents of senior-year students speak to, in terms of being caught off guard and full of sorrow that their kids were all grown up and moving out. It seemed to me a rather implausible reality that a parent should feel so suddenly disjointed at the prospect of their child reaching a certain young-adult maturity level, as though they somehow didn’t see it coming all the years of their youth and moving out to start a life of their own wasn’t part of the deal.

But now I sorta get it.

Despite all my efforts to look deeply into the nature of impermanence and work to develop my practice in the art of letting go, just the other day I suddenly realized that my husband and I’s time with my 18-year old stepson is incredibly short. I did the math. Given how our residential schedule is lined out in our parenting plan – a schedule we’ve up-held diligently since he was at the tail end of first grade – we have a total of three remaining weeks with him until he graduates from high school, at which point he will be choosing to live full time with his mom and stepdad.

Just this morning I came across a lovely quote from Jack Kornfield on twitter, which states: To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.

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