We just got back from the airport, where we delivered Dan and Janae and Leslie. Dan is flying home to Dallas, Janae and Leslie are on a 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' trip to the Big Apple for a whole 24 hours. Then Janae will head back to Dallas and Leslie will fly home to Pittsburgh. We had fun, fun when they were here, we ate way too much, slept not enough, made messes, spent too much money on food and fun, hung out for times of sheer nothingness, and also partied like there was no tomorrow.
Everytime we drop them off at the airport, I find myself doing a mental count of how long it'll be til I get to see them again, and this time it's 19 days for Dan and Janae and 24 hours for Leslie. So I didn't cry. Which I usually do. But still there's something very raw and tender about watching your kids walk away, go through security and disappear in the tram that takes them to the other side, to board planes where they fly far away. A re-reminder of how grown up they are, how separate their lives are, how the time when they were little slipped way too fast through our fingers. And I find myself missing them instantly, in a way that makes absolutely no sense.
Good grief parenting is not for sissies. It sucks the last drop of emotional energy out of you, and yet it's the best thing that ever happened, isn't it?
We are always so worn out, in every way possible, after the kids fly home, whichever kids that might be, or even when we fly home, that it's become a ritual to stop for dinner, and when Manly asks what I'm hungry for, I always tell him, 'somewhere quiet'. I could care less what they serve, as long as there's no hustle bustle.
It's not exactly the noise I'm trying to avoid, but rather the activity that comes with it, when I need to give my heart a place to rest for a little bit, from the blur of time that consisted of the minute when they came off that plane and I recognized them, out of the crowd, to seeing them piled in beds sleeping, or splayed out on sofas watching late night TV, or around our table, then there we were, back to the airport, where we stood and looked til we spotted them, above the crowd, and they disappeared into it again. My heart usually needs a rest after that.
After almost 33 years of parenting, it still gets to me every single time, and I doubt there's much hope for it ever getting better. I strongly suspect this is exactly how my own mother or father feels, when I visit them. That moment when you first see that child you brought into the world, and it doesn't matter a lick if they are over half a century old. To that last moment when they climb into the car or head through the airport, and you know you won't see them again for awhile, even when it's nineteen days or twenty-four hours. It just doesn't make any sense at all.
All of which I'm thankful for tonight.