I only remember crying all the way home after dropping my son off at Emory University for his first year. I wished I had done more for him. He was ready for his new detached self, but I wasn’t. I was hurt by his lack of compassion and willingness to console me. But children look to their parents to be the givers, not the receivers, of compassion. I was always puzzled when my mother cried when I left after a visit. I was only heading out toward life’s adventures. I had no compassion for her and her stagnant life, which I now regret. But back then, I had no one to talk to about stuff like this. Back then, there wasn’t any place for me to share my feelings about Jay leaving home—now there’s DivineCaroline.
In fact, I didn’t really appreciate my “sisters” then like I do now. I was at the vanguard of the women’s movement. I fought for equality in the workplace. I tried to compete with men and earn their acceptance by being like them, dressing like them, and talking like them. I was too busy worrying about the future to stop and recognize feelings at all, and I ignored other women who could have shared those feelings with me. Feelings were a luxury back then. Only the financially secure seemed to have the time to analyze and pamper them—at least that was what I thought then. But that was many years ago.
Folks who live for now don’t plan ahead and don’t look back. There are people who dwell on the past and start each sentence with “I remember.” Then there are those, like myself, who are so busy preparing for the future that they can’t enjoy the now and don’t stop to remember the past. I mourn not remembering the little details. I could have written volumes about Saudi Arabia, where I was a superintendent of an international school, but I didn’t.
Each time I leave Jay, I cry like my mother did. I was always shocked that she cared so much to cry, when the rest of the time she seemed to only ignore or criticize me.
What I feel is a combination of not being able to see more of him and having less of a part in his life, and a self-centered acknowledgment of my own loneliness and advancing years. The letting go is still hard; knowing that the era of having an influence on his life is over. Maybe it is a lack of control for a control freak. Maybe I am just sad that both of us have moved on.