“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” ― Washington Irving
Here we are, at summer’s end, marked by the third summer holiday, Labor Day. (Funny, I feel like I'm in labor again, sending a child off to college is both a death and a birth.) How are you planning to celebrate this Labor Day Weekend - in a BIG way, or a small way?
Marking the end of the College Admissions Chapter, Round 1, I intend to continue my recent practice of slowing down, administering heaps of self care and staying with the small. This 18-month-long journey of searching, visiting, applying, worrying, applying again, shopping, packing, preparing, driving, and moving into college, is now complete. Whew! Returning home from SLU last week, a welcome summer thunderstorm provided me cover to claim raindrops, not tears, were falling down my face. While the storminess continues, I am blessed with a lessening of tears as each day passes.
I returned to leftovers, letters, and the laundry. Relieved from having to make dinner when I didn’t feel like eating, I sorted through the mail, sent my first letter off to Laney, and then tackled the laundry - that ever-present companion which keeps me grounded and from melting into a puddle of sadness.
“Toughest mom-moment yet,” I texted a dear friend checking in on me. Fresh, albeit familiar, tears streamed down my face again.
Letting go and launching Laney feels so BIG that I find only the small, daily chores keep me from losing myself in the vastness of this doorway. Throughout the move, only moving through the details of shopping and packing and unpacking and shopping some more, kept me from spiraling out of the moment or being completely overwhelmed by waves of sadness.
As you well know, I love marinating in BIG ideas and having deep conversations. That was BC: Before College. AD (After Drop-off) I find myself majoring in minutia, savoring scheduling and craving chores. In the face of something enormous, I discover that the tedium of daily life ties me to the here and now. One of my fellow mothers taking kids to college suggested this leaving/letting go feels like someone ripping a bandage off, way too quickly. Until this wound heals, I am slowing down, staying small, and soothing myself. That’s all I can manage, for now. I admit it’s quite fascinating to observe my mind wondering, worrying and wrestling with all of this, as I avoid the BIG. I smile to think that the tedium of life feels more soothing to my soul. I chuckle when folding clean clothes puts a smile on my face. I laugh at myself as I text a friend instead of phoning her, afraid if I open my mouth to speak my vulnerability, I will be swallowed by waves of sadness.
Back I go to Bed Bath & Beyond, one last time, to return a few things that didn’t fit into the dorm room. Beyond. That’s the new place I am trying to inhabit… once I finish a few more chores. I am living into this new vulnerability - one step, one letter, one basket of laundry at a time. It turns out the best way for me dwell in “Beyond” is by holding onto something I know is true, no matter how small. The ground beneath me has shifted, in a major way. “Nothing will ever be the same again, Mom,” Tommy commented in a matter of fact way after our first family phone call. How true. How true. And, I trust that I will soon return to the land of Big Questions, just in time for Circles to begin again next week. Join me!
Although most of the work I am privileged to do in the world is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to put some words to my experience, and this is the landing place. Chime in on the conversation. Your voice is needed.