m wood pen

freelance illustrator: have pen, will travel

m wood traveling

i’m one year away from an empty nest, although, believe me, there’s plenty of other stuff here to keep my nest overflowing! but in the full-time parenting sense, yes, the countdown officially is here: child 1 & 2 are settled in cozy college city apartments, and my youngest child is 17 and a half, has already applied to her retinue of colleges, went to school dressed like tom cruise from ‘risky business’, and, oh yeah, drove herself there.

the shutter ‘open for business’ of my 24/7 “mother” job is showing signs of needing sprucing up.  i’m less pulled onto the parenting spot by the very early bits of business as i was when all three of them were tots and babies, and i’m fine with that.  i remind myself daily that the goal is to groom, mold, encourage, cheer on, guide, push, hold and love ’em until they’re as ready as a perfectly nested, roosted egg: off, up and away.

so what is it that i am really doing this year?  what’s the plan???

soaking it all up.  drinking it all in.  gulping it all down…even the fitsy-pies: give me a crabby teen, or even, remotely via text, a surly college kid: the exchange and the problem and the solution and the little bit of a string still there, honestly yes: it’s nice to be in on whatever simmers and swims around these budding grown ups that sprung from their parents imaginations.

my wagging the carrot of a long trip to europe in front of my kids was both giving and receiving: i wanted more than anything to help catapult them over the atlantic ocean for the first times as, honestly, it was time.  and, cue the accordion music man here: “la vie en rose” as background music to a grainy-captured image of four similar-looking people wandering down a lamp-light street: i wanted time with them, free of distraction, cell-coverage and normal life.  all mine!

selfishly, i wanted to watch the whole thing unravel, as at this point in my nearly 22 years of parenting: i get it.

time flies.  life moves forward. it’s not a moat or a whirlpool or an orbit. it’s a conveyer belt, an escalator, a forward-only moving treadmill and once you’ve scurried past a moment, it’s disappearing from view in your rear view mirror.

so, lapping up the moments, staring and delighting in their nearly every move, i lucked out big time by spending 2 and a half straight weeks with three incredible, hilarious, adventurous, goofy, sometimes-moody, open-minded, well-dressed, curious, tall, smart, lovely, funny, hungry people.

passports in hand, stamped to prove we’d been where we were, (along with about 5000 pictures for my nostalgia-filled slide shows), it’s just a microcosm of their lives that have overlapped with mine: for now, we’re just about all moving into those little individual pockets of our own lives, the official cluster life that i’ve so blissfully lived with my children ebbing closer to it’s finale, yes, i’m soaking it up.

the poor thing! this morning as i sipped my coffee and she grabbed her backpack to zip off to beat the early morning school bell, she found me staring at her, just staring, so much so, that she laughed and impersonated me.  “i’m just thinking”, was my weak, unconvincing alibi.

“no, mom, you were staring.  you do it all the time.”

and then, with a laugh and a kiss, she was out the door.

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