Monday, February 28, 2011

Birthdays and empty rooms

"It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. They had given me some scopalamine and I was sort of crazy. I started petting Dad's coat, thinking him to be a leopard. Then, outside my window were window cleaners. 'Please close the blinds. I can't give birth with those men out there.' Then, you came and I cried."

That was my mom relating her birthing experience. The baby? Me. That was 54 years ago today. Now, I cry...or at least, sniffle.

Caleb at about 6 years old
My house is empty. Out oldest Caleb, moved out last week. He has a nice one bedroom apartment in town, outfitted with expendable furniture pieces from around the house. He's happy. He's content. He appears to be making fiscally responsible decisions. And, he even seems to have learned to make his bed, hang up his towel and wash his dishes, activities not practiced with much regularity before this.

I am happy for him, so any tears are not really out of sadness. But, I'm not sure they are tears of joy, either. The tears come from the tiny pinpricks in my heart; the heart that holds a child in a tight caress. The pinpricks are not mortal wounds. But something changes as the blood slowly seeps out, awaiting a healing callous. That first born no longer needs me to fold his clothes to fit just-so in his dresser drawers. He no longer needs a reminder to set his alarm or settle his accounts. He is capable of doing all that on his own.

College soccer pic 2006
That fact means that we have been at least somewhat successful in preparing him for independent living. But it also means that my role as a mom has morphed from a doer to an observer. All that pain delivering him, all the school projects and soccer games, all those ups and downs, blessings and admonishments. . .all those things are in the past. Now, I am relegated to watch from the sidelines. It will take some getting used to.

Caleb circa 2009
I just glanced into his now empty room. It's sparkling clean. No dust-bunnies playing hide and seek. No clothes strewn on the floor. The bookshelves are orderly and no mass of wires and cords seeks to tangle and strangle. The curtains are in the wash and the closet organized. It has potential to be so many things: sewing room, guest escape, or quite reading room. But to get there, I have to get comfortable about letting go of the past; the way it was.

 I'll give it a day or two. Then I will embrace the future; Caleb's future.

4 comments:

Melissa said...

Oh how true, and beautiful, are those thoughts.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Thanks, Melissa. I can only imagine the emotions when weddings and granbabies come around.

I do look at Caleb differently now. Somehow, he just looks older and wiser.

Rick Gray said...

Happy Birthday Rebekah!

A Mother's duties are never complete. Caleb might be out of the house, but you are still his Mom. That love and bond are still there and always will be.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

He has said "thank you" and "Love you" a few times lately...at unexpected times. That always feels good.