Here is my thought on having children. The minute we give birth we begin the process of letting them go.
There's the first time we let someone else hold them. The first time someone else feeds them. The first time we leave them with a babysitter and let them stay overnight with a grandparent. The first time they take steps without holding our hands. The first time we leave them in Sunday School crying. The first time we turn loose of the bike seat to let them take off on their own. The first time they sleep over at a friend's house. The first day of school. The first time they are last up to bat when the teams down by one and they strike out. The first time they hurt and we can't fix it. The first time we hand them the keys to the car and they drive off alone. Their first love. Their first heartbreak. Their last night at home before their first day in college.
Yep. The minute we give birth, we begin letting go--little by little every single day until one day we realize that we no longer have a starring role in the story of their lives, but rather a supporting role. Then, just as we begin to adjust to this new role and even begin to like it a bit, it happens.
Just like magic, we once again become the stars in our childrens' lives...in the short film titled, "Moving-Day Memories--99 Ways to Have Fun In 104 Degree Heat". And why are we the stars? Because no one else auditioned for the part--that's why!
Like clockwork, every year since 2003, Todd and I have been invited to help our offspring relocate. Some years, it is only one child. But every now and again, like this year, we get to move at least two of them and possibly even a third! It's how we celebrate our anniversary every year! Suffice it to say, this wasn't something we considered when we married in August some 29 years ago!
So this year, the story goes something like this.
I, a.k.a mover #1, finish up work on Thursday and meet up with my daughter, a.k.a, the movee. We gas up the truck, drive 75 miles to the city where we meet up with my husband, a.k.a, mover #2, who has just driven in from San Antonio to secure his starring role in this film.
A strained back prevents me from doing any of the heavy lifting, so I attack the kitchen while father and daughter maneuver mattresses and heavy furniture down to the street level to load in the truck--which is parked in an alleyway with hazard flashers blinking out the "please don't tow us" prayer. About three feet of rope is all the hope we have for tying down mattresses and other objects that could potentially become airborne in transport. I bite my tongue and I purposefully remove myself from the conversation dealing with mattress restraint. Back to the kitchen.
Now, I'm not saying that I don't ever have things in my fridge of questionable origin, but I AM saying that I don't ask other people to clean them out. But, if this is the price I pay to be a star in my daughter's life again, then so be it! Even while removing a bag of fermented something from the veggie bin, I have no complaints. After all, I was blessed with no sense of smell for moments such as this. So actually this role suits me quite well.
Eventually, at 9:30 pm or so, my husband starts the 75-mile drive home with a loaded truck. He should be home by 11:00. When he gets there, he will unload our daughter's things into our dining room where they will be housed for a couple of weeks until her new place is ready. At that time, we will reload everything into the truck and repeat everything...in reverse...sort of!
Meanwhile back in the city, mother and daughter work side-by-side packing up the kitchen. We take a couple of loads out to our second vehicle. Against my better judgement, my car was parked (not by me) in a space that TECHNICALLY wasn't available, even though no one else was parked there. In the time it took to take an elevator up to the 4th floor, grab a load, and come back down, the car was gone. MY car. GONE. VANISHED. The time is 11:30 p.m. Seriously? Yes. I've come to understand that towing in Austin's west campus area is an inconvenience that leaves few unscathed. It is just a right of passage that must be dealt with. Okay. Well, I'm glad we got that out of the way. My daughter's roommate says she knows just where to find the car--this will be the fourth time she has assisted others in retrieving their towed vehicles. Well, that's good news. Along with the fact that the towing place is open 24-7. Then again, I was raised believing that nothing good happens after midnight, so I'm slightly concerned.
In the wee hours of Friday morning, two college-aged girls and one middle-aged mother navigate through dark streets and sketchy neighborhoods until we end up on a dead-end dimly-lit road. A high chain link fence surrounded a lot full of towed vehicles--and somewhere in the midst was my little Jeep. We approach a window, behind which hides the guy that would hopefully give me my car back. We communicate only through glass, for his protection he says. Eventually, after we settled our bill and thank the nice man, he instructs us to proceed through a gate to claim our car. I pause and ask him if there are guard dogs inside because that was all I needed in one night---to have my car towed AND to be attacked by dogs. He says no. No dogs.
Back at the apartment, with my car carefully stowed for the night, there was the inebriated neighbor who showed up at the door. He mumbles something about orange juice and then proceeds to lie down on the floor with half of his body inside the apartment and half in the hallway. A slight predicament, but it resolved itself shortly and we crash on the couches at 2:30 a.m. At 7 a.m. the moving again ensues. It is already almost 80 degrees outside. Todd shows up on the scene again with an empty truck just begging to be filled. During this time it occurs to me again why my husband and I had been chosen for this role. It's because of our incredible ability to know exactly how to position the legs of a table to get it through the door and how to trash things without a second thought. And it's also because we have no inhibitions in asking total strangers if they want furniture (abandoned by another roommate and not needed for the new pad) so that we don't have to load and deliver them to another location. SCORE! The first half of the move is done just as the temperature reaches 100. I've lost 8 pounds in water weight alone!
Todd heads to work. I head home. Our daughter heads to Colorado for a much needed vacay! Thanks to heating pads and Advil, we'll be ready for the second half of the move in a couple of weeks. We have already secured our starring roles---no audition required! And then, a few weeks after that we'll be on location in Michigan starring in the life of another offspring. Hey, in this business it's either feast or famine! When it's time to feast, we gladly oblige!
Soon, we'll settle into our supporting roles again. The weather will cool off. We'll probably even get some rain. At least once a day we'll wonder about what the kids are up to. We'll encourage them from nearby when we can and from faraway when that's our only option. And all the while we will know that just around the corner is August and another moving day. And we will once again be the stars.
Happy Anniversary, Honey!