I think about JOY a lot these days. I have posted obliquely about the darkness that cloaked 2011 until I stopped looking for joy in life’s headlines and started looking for it places like well-made sandwiches or the late summer return of the sharp shinned hawk couple to the tree we spend the rest of the year worrying will take out the entire block in a wind storm. 2011 was one of those years that proves the second part of this statement: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” (V. Lenin). I finally concluded that “joy is in the footnotes” for my own mental health and immediately started looking more closely for it there.
Now as our nest begins to empty, I look for joy in the everyday for different reasons. In two weeks my youngest plunges into his senior year. The long good bye begins. He lives a good life – crowded with sport, his talents, loving friends, academics, a business, his opinions, dreams and us. Less and less us, of course. This summer his father and I have sat on the figurative front porch of his life (and the literal front porch of our home) waiting for drive-by’s. And we love it. Even as I miss the carpools, the down times on sidelines of practice fields around the region, long and lazy post-dinner conversations, crowds of boys around the PS-whatever in the basement – and ask my husband why we couldn’t have raised at least one mama’s boy – I know in my heart this is what we raised them to do: to leave, carrying their own portable nests.
Several years ago when one of my sisters-in-law faced the emptying of her own nest, she recommended The Gift of an Ordinary Day: a Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison, to me. www.katrinakenison.com When Kenison faced her own sons’ flight from the family life they’d built and known and loved, she wrote about it. At the time I took the book as a reminder to enjoy the ordinary rhythms of our lives together and as a caution that they would too-soon change. I now appreciate the deeper meaning.
Yes, I am going to look forward to this boy ‘s last year at home. We didn’t get a last year with our oldest son. He left suddenly one day before he finished high school – loudly, viciously, prematurely with more emotion than plan. We have been dealing with the backlash ever since. To this mother, a long good bye sounds delicious. And I am going to find joy in the ordinary every single day.