m wood pen

i like to draw


off he goes!

so i’m feeling really happy.

granted, my recently spotless living room & kitchen are now piled high with a potpourri of boxes, an explosive-like circus cannon of clothing strewn around, grinch-like scattered towers of geometrics which might be a retro stereo receiver and a family of speakers, shopping bags promising to rip from their being stuffed with xbox games, a first aid kit, and a rainbow collection of beanies – the cool winter caps, not the “rare” and “sure to be worth a fortune someday” stuffed animals.

what’s going on?

well, that apartment situation that was, mercifully, solved last week was the first step in the last step my number one son will take to launch out all on his own in his very first year round house of his own.  it’s not like i didn’t see this day coming.  and it’s not like i don’t wholly support his being ready, willing and able to set up his very own little cool casa.

nope, i’m not setting up roadblocks and hairpin turns to keep him from doing this.  i’m actually right there alongside of him, cheering him on.  granted, he’s only going to be a junior in college, so logically he’s still “mine” for two more years.  but, we go way back to a life of back and forth, kids from a broken home (we love that expression: brings on plenty of sympathy, gifts and whatever else they can garner for the whole silly mess)….a totally complicated and inconvenient way to grow up.

at the beginning of the summer, when word on the street was that noel was transferring to depaul to enjoy this great city and get a move on towards his grown up life, he told me that he was ready.  noticing the neat stack of his shoes that he keeps in the back of the volvo, i am sure i already knew this.  a make-shift shoe closet on wheels, this kid (and his cute sisters) have had the ridiculous pain of traveling from one house to another for the last 15 years.  i can’t even imagine.  although i’ve watched and lived and experienced the entire scenario play out, and can vouch that my kids are the singularly best packers i’ve ever met, the whole thing really can just stare me in the eyes and break my heart.

oh dear.

so, instead of staring at the rear view mirror, we’re looking strongly and optimistically into the future.  after all, the future is now, right?  so, this bambino of mine, just shy of that coolest of age, 21, has put his adorable foot down and said: he’s leaving the party.  he’s setting up shop.  he’s officially becoming his own fellow (well, the rent and tuition and food bills and that issue of com ed and comcast and the gas company….yes, mom and dad are happily along for that ride)…hanging his very first home shingle.  and i couldn’t be prouder.

now, back to the situation here.  he’s sorting through treasures, he’s stacked a goofy bit of stuff in a caterwompus way, and the space planner in me is, of course, reorganizing and stacking like-categoried items into tidy bundles.  the stacks are getting higher and higher, a jumbled trail of stuff that snakes hither and yon throughout the joint, and the excitement is pulsating through the place.

lists for kitchen supplies (“do i need a toaster?”), living room, omg a dining room table, a bed (“a good mattress is important”), bookcases, a cozy couch, an antique hall tree from salem, lamps, a kitchen island, the cool spring ’12 framed c&b top secret print, glassware, a pizza cutter….it’s everything.  bounty from his fairy godmother who’s added great barstools, an end table and a huge pine hutch to the mix! the dorm prep?  that’s nothing…i could do that in my sleep at this point.  this is so much more, so grown uppy and extreme and official and important, and here over in our world, the layers of life are all pointed into this wonderful first big step.

sure, this is an entirely different sense of life than when we gathered this precious baby boy bundle and drove home, practically with our hazards on in the right lane of the highway between chicago to barrington: home, sweet home.

yes, here’s his story.  my shift is shifting and so is his dad’s.  the middle didn’t look the way we planned when we first learned how to change a diaper and make sure in the middle of the night that our sweet little boy was still breathing;  when he learned how to walk, talk, use a fork, hit a baseball, learn how to say the word “tractor” correctly, change a vhs tape all by himself.  no, it turned into an entirely different landscape, something foreign that absolutely none of us knew anything whatsoever about.  but the one thing that does look the same, feels the same, and will stretch us from here to there with bursting-with-joy hearts?

easy.  he’s been peppered, swaddled, dripped, covered, drenched, encouraged, nourished, adored and surrounded with every single ounce of love we could muster, every single day of his life.

so, off he goes.  and this mom, seeing his bedroom here still stay pretty much the same, just with a lot less stuff pouring off the shelves or creeping from underneath his bed.

he’ll be back.  and we’ll be here, ready and waiting.  each and every time.

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