Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not unlike labor

My first contractions usually came at night. They would be strong enough to alert me to them, but not so strong that they overwhelmed me. I'd waddle to the rocking chair, find a book to read and begin the rocking back and forth watching the clock and jotting notes about the minutes between the hard crunches across my stomach.

I'm one of those annoying women who didn't mind labor too much (at least pre-transition labor... then it's a whole 'nuther story) and had all five babies at home. I did have one very difficult birth, but the whole thing only lasted forty-five minutes so... yeah. I know. Shut up. :)

In any case, tonight I'm pacing the floors and looking for that rocker. I want tea and a book. I want a blanket and soothing music.

My oldest girl is leaving home. There are half-packed boxes everywhere. And suddenly she doesn't know how to pack them. She must have me. Never mind she's had all summer and half of September. 36 hours remain and she must have my help. I'm annoyed. Cranky.

I want the room cleared of debris, but much of it has sentimental value: the script from Random Acts of Shakespeare (her second of six summer camps), silver heels from the prom, a red diploma, origami cranes she made with an old issue of Real Simple magazine strewn across the floor, scarves and perfume and that silly drawing a friend made in her psych class, Jane Eyre and Harry Potter stacked by the bed, pieces of paper that all have OSU letterhead and meant something Dire and Important only months ago (now irrelevant yet taunting - did I forget something? Is she really going?)...

Then there are the piles of sweaters and hoodies and skirts. Johannah wears skirts. She's got scads of them and they each have a clip-on hanger. Two suitcases are full and we're still washing clothes. I looked at her sideways while packing: "I thought you said you had No Clothes..."

"Oh Mom. I wear most of those t-shirts working out."


"They don't take up any space."

And they don't. Not really. Six of them are from Shakespeare Camps anyway.

Still, I keep wandering through the cluttered halls, agitated. Like labor. The pangs subside and I go back to working or writing or shopping.

Like Sunday. At Costco. I walked through the aisles with Caitrin. Quaker Oats Granola! Johannah would like that. I'll get it for her... oh wait.

And just like that, transition. A strong pang. I sucked in my breath. Breathe I reminded myself. My eyes stung, my gut cramped. She won't be here to eat it. And then it was gone. I moved down the brown sugar aisle.

The pangs are coming closer together now. I change the loads of her clothes from washer to dryer. Zing. I inhale, imagine Johannah's smiling face at a football game, and it passes.

Right now as I type, in the other room four kids (who still live at home, who still include Johannah) are rolling dice, laughing and trading cards. Twinge. Another one.

The baby's on its way. I feel it. Only a couple of final pushes and she'll be out into a whole new world. But this time, without me. My big girl. My young woman. Her own person. Not a baby any more.


Steve said...

How sweet. Prayers for your transition; I shall be there soon myself.

Grace and Peace, Good Julie

Susanne B. said...

What a gut-wrenchingly gorgeous post -- love the labor metaphor (still hate you, though, for 45-minute labors!). I feel like I'm in pre-labor -- occasionally a Braxton-Hicks tightens me up, then it's gone. But it's coming -- the real thing is coming. And I'm nowhere near ready.

my15minutes said...

You've been on my mind this week, knowing that Thursday was coming. The labor analogy is apt. (I'm having my own moments of transition as I await October 29, the day my boy shows up for basic training.) I'm thinking about you...blessings to Johannah as she heads out into the wider world.

brian said...

Great post, Julie. I love the way you describe things and the way you notice the things so many people just let slip by in their lives.


carrie said...

When H left for college I grieved. It was real grief for the end of one stage of our family life. It's odd to have that mix of excitement, pride and grief, isn't it? I didn't want a thing to change. I didn't want her to stay. But I also knew it was appropriate to grieve.

Ampersand said...

Really beautiful post, Julie. Such a tension between th emotions, and anticipation of the big change.

The metaphor is wonderful, it is like labor except you are waiting for her to leave rather than arrival -- but either way, it's still a birth for her.

Dalissa 365 said...

Wah! I felt that way sending little E. out the door last week for full day K. I cry and then it dissipates. She cries at night when she's tired and I cry again.

Your labor analogy is perfect. I can't say I had that kind of labor ;P until the last two kids but I still love you.

Hang in there, Mama!