Growth is Not a Straight Line

This spring in Minnesota has been an odd juxtaposition of stop-and-go thawing, warmth then cold then warmth again. But the weather has been the undercurrent to the other sorts of shifts, the way our family is getting ready to send our daughter Abby to college and how our granddaughter Camille is learning to tell us everything on her mind as she runs on her newly-turned-two-years-old legs. Our son Shawn‘s art career is expanding, our daughter-in-law Beka is learning about urban farming, and Mick is getting ready to attend a conference in the Azores. I’m training new slush readers at Every Day Poets, lining up tasks for Abby’s high school graduation party, and doing everything else I can to keep busy so I don’t dwell on the fact that she won’t live in this house with us come September.

All of this is growth. The reminders that this is the season for growth are everywhere, in the way our grass is suddenly brilliant green and how the violas have exploded in the front garden. It’s there in the robin’s nest tucked in around the support beams beneath our deck. I see it in the way the crabapple has suddenly burst into a white-petaled extravaganza in our front yard. Growth comes no matter what, regardless of whether we turn the calendar page or snow appears in May. There’s no stopping it.

I’ve heard parents say they wish they could keep their kids little forever. As I watched Camille at her own birthday party over the weekend, I was reminded just how much a parent has to be involved when a child is two years old, how things move between exhilarating and exhausting. I watched Shawn and Beka being parents, something that they weren’t only a few years ago. My son, who used to come home completely banged up from skateboarding, now chases his daughter away from the alley behind their house, keeps dangerous objects out of her hands, and loses sleep when she cries. And I’m glad it’s his turn. I’m happy he’s grown into the man he is.

Abby’s turn is next. She’ll move from this beautiful, stubborn, smart, and sometimes tender high school student to a college-educated woman before we know it. She’ll have stops and starts along the way, shifts that force her to reframe who she is.

Winter seemed like it would last forever this year. Of course, it didn’t, in spite of the snow that kept returning after we thought we were done. And now, the sweetness of spring is sharper, more deeply appreciated than ever.

Abby in front of her high school. Photo by Luann Glaser.

DO A KIND THING

As a resident of the midwestern United States, I’m quite familiar with the destructive capability tornadoes possess. And so I’ve been glued to the news coverage of yesterday’s massive tornado and its aftermath in the Oklahoma City area (Moore, Oklahoma, to be specific). The images of a shattered community are heartbreaking. This is one of the worst tornado disasters ever.

If you haven’t seen those images, look here.

Huffington Post has a list of ways to help Oklahoma tornado victims here.

Please consider helping.


11 comments

  1. The news from Oklahoma is beyond heartbreaking. Lives changed in an instant.

    On a much, much nicer note, Abby looks wonderful – I love her energy and that happy smile.

  2. You write a touching memoire this week, Kathleen. Laughing and crying our kids into adults is the most wonderful thing we do as parents and grandparents. Like you, Julie and I wouldn't want our children to be 'little' again. But I wouldn't mind being 'little' once more myself. 🙂

  3. What a bittersweet and heartfelt post, to which I can totally relate. Letting that last child go is tough, really tough. But if you've done so gradually, the process is not quite as difficult.

    I wouldn't have the energy any more to parent little ones. I am thoroughly enjoying the adults my three have become, although the 19-year-old is still transforming.

    A beautiful piece you've written, Kathleen. Congratulations on raising such fine children into adulthood.

  4. Thank you, Audrey! The posts you've shared about your son in college in North Dakota cross my mind here. And, I like to think my energy level hasn't changed, but I am slapped with reality every time I babysit Camille. 🙂

  5. I recently cared for a friend's two-year-old for several hours. She was great. But I realized in that moment how glad I am that this aspect of parenting is done.

    There will be no more reports from college in Fargo. The son has accepted admission to Tufts University in the Boston area and will transfer there this fall. I'm not sure how I will handle nearly 1,000 miles between us. But I've managed before with the middle daughter off to study for six months in Argentina, back to intern there for four months and then, for the third time, vacationing there for a month. And the second time there she was mugged.

    The son has been offered this great opportunity to study at a highly-regarded university. He's excited and we are thrilled for him.

  6. Tufts! That's fantastic! Congratulations to your son. 1,000 miles may be long, but that is an amazing opportunity. Do you Skype? That's a great way to stay in touch.

    Yes, I love having Camille for a day at a time. 🙂

  7. We skyped when Miranda was in Argentina. But that was with Caleb's help. He will need to teach us. I am somewhat of a slow learner with technology.

    Yes, Tufts only admits a small percentage of students who apply…

    Forgot to mention that, had Caleb been a girl, we planned to name him Camille. Middle name Sophia. Love those two names. Not that we cared either way whether we got a boy or a girl.


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