Easter Sunday, Sophie’s social options were down; all the way down. But the temperature was up and so was the sun, warming the melted city lakes, the budding landscape and the moist spring air all the way up into the mid-70’s. I had already been up, with the sun, for hours working on my thesis revisions, when Sophie got up and asked me,
“Do you want to walk around the lake?” knowing that asking me this is like saying to a rambunctious puppy, “Go get your leash!” I have to keep from piddling on the carpet at the mention of it.
“Aw, honey, you know I have so much work to do on my thesis, and only 10 more days to finish it.” was my initial disheartened and, as it turns out, unenlightened reply.
All this year–the year I’ve been bemoaning her leaving me for good–I have put my writing and other work ahead of being spontaneous and spending time with her (or many other loved ones, for that matter). And for what? Will anyone ever read my thesis, once it’s bound and collecting dust on the shelves of the Hamline CWP (Creative Writing Programs) House? Highly doubtful.
On the other hand, will Sophie remember that her mother threw academic caution to the spring wind and through her actions modeled the wisdom captured in the aphorism,
“Carpe diem!”, “Seize the day!” ascribed to the Latin poet, Horace.
Another aphorism (which is defined as an original thought spoken or written in a concise and memorable form), this one attributed to Hippocrates, reads,
“Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult.” I couldn’t have said it more originally, concisely or memorably, myself.
This year has seemed so short, except for all the mornings we woke to new snowfalls the last one just days ago on April 17 when I cleared about six inches and scraped ice off Sophie’s car for the umpteenth time. And my “art”, my thesis, has seemed so long. The opportunity to spend time with my youngest is fleeting so rapidly I can count the number of days until she leaves, first for camp this summer and then for KU at the end of August.
Yes, you heard it, she is ready to commit to KU. We finally heard from the U of M last week, and Sophie was waitlisted. In truth, I couldn’t be prouder. Here is an explanation of the situation from the U of M site:
Admission to the University of Minnesota is highly competitive…We have received more than 44,000 applications for a freshman class of approximately 5,400 students….we have determined that the (waitlisted) applicant is academically prepared to succeed at the University of Minnesota…
but then the final nail in the coffin of U of Home-as-an-option,
Students who are selected for admission will receive an update in writing no later than June 15, 2014…we must encourage waitlisted students to continue pursuing their other college options.
Before heading out on our walk, Sophie said,
“Today I want to fill out the forms to commit to KU.” and on our walk she said,
“I can’t wait for you to meet my roommate, Emily. I can’t wait for me to meet my roommate, Emily!” Sophie feels like she knows this young woman she’s been corresponding with (“corresponding” seems like a quaint choice of words, like something we used to do with a pen pal or someone otherwise not electronically accessible to us).
Howie and I were out with my dearest high school girlfriend and her husband over the weekend (she and I did the math and realized we are going on 40 years of friendship) and she began talking to me in a measured tone that sounded like she was about to stage an intervention.
“You’ve got to be strong for your daughter, now. You’re the adult and she’s the child. She’s probably worried about what’s going to happen to you once she leaves, and that’s just going to make the whole transition harder on her.”
I hate when old friends think they’ve earned the right to tell you the truth, even when they have.
I remember just last week, Sophie was sitting at the kitchen table with her computer after we finished dinner. I was cleaning up and she was cruising the KU site. I must have been interacting with her with my characteristic non-enthusiasm about college, when she looked at me with a familiar glare of disappointment and said,
“Mom, you of all people…” but I don’t remember hearing the rest of her expectation of me in that moment.
I asked her to finish that statement again, on our walk yesterday and to add insult to guilt-trip, in a rather patronizing voice she said,
“I’ve told you about eight times now. I’m not telling you again. In fact, I think I saw you write down what I said. Try to remember.”
Well, I’m trying. And all I can figure is that it had something to do with needing me to be the grown-up right now. I do recall her saying something to the effect that leaving is going to be hard for her, too–that she’s scared, too–and that she needs my help, in particular, to get ready to take this next big step.
I hate when my kids call me out on my neediness, even when they’re right.
On this holiday when much of the world is celebrating the notion of resurrection, I have some resurrecting to do, myself. It’s time I resurrect the part of myself that celebrates adventure, mine and those of my children. It’s time to remember the mother I’ve been able to be in the past; the one who cheered my kids on when they toddled while taking their first steps, who ran alongside them holding onto their bikes until they were balanced enough to ride without training wheels, who took them to their driver’s tests and woo-hooed when they got out of the test car, waving their paper license forms, smiling somewhat nervously at each threshold of their newfound freedoms.
We didn’t celebrate with an egg hunt on Easter, but still, I was able to find something sweet hidden inside the hard shell of my own stubborn resistance to this season of rebirth, growth and change. When it comes down to it, I want Sophie (and her brothers) to be able to count on me to rise up to meet life’s challenges right beside her, sacrificing my own comfort for what is best for her.
Because I–of all people–truly believe in her.