A fancier word for offspring, kids or children which my husband says doesn’t describe my two sons, 36 and 40, anymore.
Once you are over 50, if you have children, they are now grownups, and best case scenario, out in the world, hopefully independent, productive, responsible, in a relationship and no longer on your payroll. Fortunately, my two sons fit this description so I am free from supporting them and making decisions for them. But not worrying about them. I asked my mother once, “When do you stop worrying about your kids?” and she responded drily, but accurately, “When you die.”
So we worry about their health and wellbeing, their career path, their living conditions, their relationships. We feel their every hurt and rejection as deeply as we did when they skinned their knee or broke their arm. We are still there for unlimited doses of love and support, cooking tips, and good for an occasional pep talk. Such is the function of parenting which lasts a lifetime—yours.
There’s a wonderful quote attributed to Sandra Bullock about keeping happiness in perspective. But since Google can’t find it, I’ll have to paraphrase. The essence is, life is filled with challenges, disappointments, and sorrows but every once in awhile, it is punctuated with a stellar moment of happiness. These moments are so precious because they are so fleeting and should be treasured.
This notion came to me as I celebrated last night my son’s engagement. This experience of intense happiness followed a year that tested me mightily: the deterioration of my mother’s health, her slow and painful passing, and all that follows when you clean up the detritus and details of another’s long life. Followed by unfortunate physical challenges as insidiously spreading arthritis encroaches on my normally active life and messes with my image of myself as still young and vibrant.
So the joy that comes with happiness fulfilled for my son in the form of an utterly wonderful young woman is like a brilliant shooting star in an otherwise inky sky, a moment, a feeling to be revel in. This event, while not culminating in marriage til well into next year, has turned my head around to life moving forward as opposed to drawing to a close. And the wondrous possibly of grandchildren (no pressure intended) while I am still around to experience them.
This point in my life, and theirs, bookmarks for me nicely the concept of my first son moving forward to create a new life and my perspective changes. He is no longer just my son, he is a wonderful, funny, complicated man who I relish and adore as himself, not just as my son. When my boys and their significant others sit at my table, when we toast with champagne, laugh and trade stories, I savor the moment. When they are already planning the next family dinner, I am beyond thrilled. Yes, count on me to make the latkes.
As I tearfully waved goodbye to Adam as he began college, watched him move to his first apartment (using the term loosely) in New York, so will I give him a(no doubt)weepy send off at his wedding as the final launch from the ever expanding concept of nest. A big and wondrous moment for us both as he starts to build his own.