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The Dark Side of the Moon

Interesting fact tidbit: there is no “dark side” of the moon (sorry, Pink Floyd). The moon does not actually have a side that is always dark. It does, however, have a “far side” that is mostly a mystery to us, because we cannot see it… and exploring it is not yet fully possible because communication signals to and from Earth are blocked. In this metaphor, I am the Earth…

I don’t always intentionally choose my blog post topics or when I am going to write them. Sometimes my brain just turns on and starts to compose. There may be a song on the radio, a conversation, or a view from the window that sets things off. Or… I may just pop up at 4 o’clock in the morning wrestling with something, and beg and plead my mind to please let me get back to sleep, to no avail.

My Moon is out of the house and off at college… That has brought on an obvious tsunami of emotions. In her case, this is my first rodeo, and it has been a bit of a wild ride. The other night, I woke up in the middle of my brain working on an email it desperately wanted me to write to my oldest child. For a solid hour I tried to convince my brain that I could address it in the morning… that I really needed to get back to sleep… that having already been up once to reassure Little Man after a nightmare, I was running low on mom-spiration. Despite my best efforts, words of potential motherly advice kept running through my head, like that dang ticker tape they run across the bottom of the tv screen… the one that distracts us from whatever we actually turned it on to watch. I tossed and turned some more, but could not shake the feeling that I hadn’t said enough… hadn’t done enough… hadn’t fully prepared her for the world she was facing. I needed to explain that to her… to make her understand that I had made mistakes, but was trying my best.

How much oil do you give a squeaky wheel before you are certain it will roll smoothly on its way? Better yet… how much oil do you give a squeaky wheel before the wheel gets upset and spits it back at you? …before you reach for a bottle of Dawn to rinse yourself off and watch the wheel take off on its own, leaving you in a cloud of dust?

A bit dramatic, I’ll admit, but a fairly accurate depiction. You see, up to now My Moon has always been hesitant. Despite my water breaking, she was hesitant to be born. She was hesitant to start crawling… then walking… to the point that we were concerned. Turns out, she was just hesitant to explore (A far cry from the next two… who took off like little road runners, testing my reflexes and prowess on a daily basis). She was hesitant to leave my side at the park and much preferred sliding with me over sliding to me. I never worried about her leaving with a stranger, because she was hesitant to even look at… never mind approach… people. Let’s just summarize and say that there was quite a bit of gentle pushing and prodding involved in the raising of My Moon.

When she was faced with serious health issues, it was hard not to become hesitant, myself, and overprotective, but I did my best to keep my fears out of her way. There is no comprehensive “How to Be a Good Parent in Any Situation” guide, and sometimes parenting feels like being stuck in a jump scare video game: wake-up; have breakfast; drive kid to camp; drive kid from camp; KID’S LUNG COLLAPSES! But, it is what it is (my current favorite expression), and you just have to take the cards you are dealt and try to make lemonade… or whatever. The point here is that, after running next to her pushing, then holding the proverbial bike while she was hesitantly peddling without her proverbial training wheels for the first time, letting go was hard enough without adding in the obstacles that a pre-existing condition can bring.

Anyhow, with My Moon, each new beginning always took reassuring, cajoling and convincing. Until, suddenly,… it didn’t.

Now, she has flown the nest and I can see and feel (and hear) her recalibrating her relationship with me… with her family… and it can be unnerving. Her perspective is changing, and she is approaching both conversations and conflicts with us from her new position of independence. I try not to take it personally (ok… sometimes I totally take it personally, do five laps around the neighborhood, open Rant Club, take deep breaths, listen to some Enya, and then feel a little better), but it is never easy to watch your child distance herself, or tell you that she has realized (thanks to the internet) that you made this and that mistake while raising her (this is the part where I look forward to becoming a grandmother one day. Can you say “karma child”?).

That said… I have made a decision (one that I will write on a sticky paper and put up on my bathroom mirror). She is the one that is in transformation at the moment, not me. She is testing things out and finding her place outside of the family. I need to respect her space, keep a steady hand, and be consistent. I need to bite my tongue at times (and fight the urge to remind her that she is actually not truly independent, yet… It would not be helpful to hold that over her), but be constant in my expectations of her behavior as a member of our family (I’m still going to call you out when you are rude to your sister even though you are an adult… and by the way, not acting like an adult). I’ll be there when she does want advice, or just to chat… and I will stay back when she does not.

After all, My Sun and Little Man are still at home and they, too, are adjusting to a new family dynamic (it took a while for Little Man not to set the table for five) and trying to figure things out on their own journeys toward independence. The four of us will continue on with life at home, while My Moon eclipses from our day to day to find her place… and I will be here to receive the communications that do get through while she figures things out.

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