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.
As a high school graduation present, from my mom’s boss at the time, I was given a time capsule (pictured above). I swiftly took to filling it with mementos from my childhood and it is now one of my most favorite and cherished belongings. Fortunately, my mom held onto this time capsule tin for me through my wanderings around the country when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Had she not done so, who knows what might have happened to it. It’s likely that it would’ve wound up with the same fate as my high school year book, which I unfortunately did not leave with my mom when I moved 2,500 miles away to Montana, at age 19. My high school year book, equipped with penned statements from scads of friends and my picture, tied for first place with another girl from my class, featured for having been voted by our peers as Most Environmental, sits in a landfill beneath tons of rotting debris. Somewhere in Alaska, I think. Having pitched it in a misled rebellious state, only achievable by young adults, I now deeply regret having thrown it away and occasionally try to google about how I might be able to order a reprinted copy.
Ever since my mom passed the time capsule back into my possession a year or so ago I’ve wanted to start this tradition with my stepson Jaden. Inspiration struck when deciding what to get him for his 17th birthday (which is tomorrow, November 8th). It took a surprisingly long time to find the sized tin I was looking for. Eventually I had to settle on ordering a tin chock full of three kinds of popcorn. Since Jaden doesn’t like popcorn his dad and I had to eat it ourselves – insert pretend sad face here. In the now empty smiley-faced 2-gallon tin, I gathered up an assortment of starter items for his new time capsule (pictured below): a brick we recently acquired from his 100-year-old elementary school down the street that was just recently torn down, the handbill from the play he was in 2 weeks ago, literary journal he helped to put together during his sophomore year, music poster from Flight of the Conchords, Star Wars button, favorite childhood stuffed frogs, the certificate he acquired after formally receiving the Two Promises at a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat in 2011, and a variety of other little things. There’s also room for him to add additional items as he sees fit.