Monday, November 11, 2019

Look, kids, no hands!

My words are stuck somewhere between exhaustion from throwing Cate a turning-14-sleepover-party and worry from watching my young adults launch into adulthood. Thrown in with all that, is the exhilaration coupled with weariness of a new move. I have words. I like words. But for the life of me, I am struggling to find them.

I can get out "hands-off, Mama," and that's about it.

Sleepover haven for Little Red and her friends!

I remember thinking the NICU was the hard part of parenting. I remember the awful feelings when I would leave my babies every single night in that intensive care unit, entrusted to someone else's care. I would sleep a bit and wake, sitting straight up in bed anxious for how they were doing. The nurses took my call every night and gave me a report before admonishing me that my body was healing too and I needed sleep. But as soon as the clock hit 7 the following morning, I was standing outside the door, scrubbed, gowned, and ready to get my hands on my babies!!

Swinging in the University of Chicago Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

When Cate was born, I refused to let her leave my sight -- or my arms. I was so relieved that she wasn't under some one else's care every single day that I relished every moment of her newborness...I relished every single moment on having her care in my hands.

Little Red just after birth!

When the triplets graduated college in May, I thought I had arrived at the status of expert launcher. I mean, I did it times three. Pat me on the back and give me some accolades.

But the truth is, this adulthood thing is hard on mothers. Hard is really not a strong enough word.

Mason and I went to a welcome weekend at Millsaps when he was accepted there for undergrad. As he did his welcome activities on campus, I was doing the parent sessions. During one session, I zeroed in on the fact that the gentleman introduced himself as the ADA compliance officer for the school. I made a beeline for him as the session ended. Patrick Cooper and I walked back across campus together discussing the laundry list of things I knew Mason needed to be successful on campus. I was waiting for his reply when we ran in to Mason. As I introduced the two, I remember thinking this was perfect so that Mason could be assured all the accommodations would be in place. Patrick however, did not launch in to the assurances I was waiting for....rather, he looked at Mason and said, "Mason, I know what your mother thinks you need to be successful on campus. What do YOU think you need?"

Mason's list was much (much) shorter than mine.

And so Mason's college career -- and its success -- was firmly in Mason's independent hands. He and Patrick made a plan, moved forward with the plan, and rarely did Mason hit a hiccup beyond cracked sidewalks.

I am telling you this because with four years of college behind me (yes, me. I am the one learning here.) I knew that Mason had to be in charge of the accommodations at Texas Tech for grad school. I knew he was more than capable. And I knew, I had to be hands-off.

But an enormous school like Texas Tech, doesn't operate at the same rate as Millsaps and Patrick Cooper. Mason's initial meeting occurred and still the levels of bureaucracy involved before professors were notified, meant that he started classes without all the accommodations in place. So when he called to tell me one prof refused to let him use his computer in class,  I thought he should have a kind word with her after class. Explain the situation, I said. She'll make the exception, I assured him.

But no. She didn't. She repeated her no-computers-in-class policy without a care that he can't write notes, he types them. She didn't care that her hard and fast rule meant he started graduate school on the wrong foot. She didn't care that her policy set him up for a struggle.

I was pretty angry. I offered to call her. He forbid it. Sigh. I offered to call the ADA office, he said no. He assured me he was handling it -- and he was. But the ADA didn't move with speed. It took more than a few classes before he was "allowed" to bring in his computer for notes. And this professor never budged on her strict mandate about his bringing the computer until she had the OFFICIAL paperwork in her hand requiring it of her.

And all the while, I was a bazillion miles away, sitting on my hands.

And perhaps, the frustration was more in the distance than the hand-sitting. I couldn't take Mason to lunch and convince him all would be well. I couldn't hug him tight and remind him of all the challenges he has overcome. I couldn't swoop in. And of how desperately I needed to swoop.

Claire received her first acceptance letter to Occupational Therapy school last week. And we are thrilled and celebrating and yet, I know there is more launching in my near near future. More hands-off supporting.

For the four years that Benjamin, Mason, and Claire were in college, I thought I was sad because I missed having them under my roof -- and I did,  oh man I really did -- but that isn't the weight I feel. Rather, the weight of launching children, the hard part, the challenge, is that we have to be hands-off. No swooping in to solve a problem. No calling teachers to iron out the details. No after school milkshake to cure what ails. 

No, adults have to find their own coping skills. Adults have to navigate their own struggles. And adults have to communicate their own needs.

My hands can't even be in the pot.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

1 comments: said...

Your words ring so true! I am grateful that SE has your 3 awesome young adults in life as they navigate this new, exciting, & scary stage of their journey!