November 13, 2015

Goodbye Boot Camp: A Retro-Reel of much more than Mommy-Misgivings.


Humans are cells clustered in a mass.

Amoebas birthing fresh recruits, shedding feathers in their wake. It is the nature of things.

On occasion a much-needed plume becomes jostled, mistakenly disconnected from its owner, lost in the leavings. This is not the nature of things. It is instead the non-aware societal theft of an individual’s parts.

September elicits bright yellow buses streaming up roadways and the casual yet determined shower of leaves on our oak infested property. From the first day my nearly 22-year old twins left for pre-school I have attended Good-Bye Boot Camp. It has been an intensive training for a big good-bye just around the bend.

My work detail initiated by waving as the pair marched toward their yearly unknown. Then I cleaned the house, top to bottom, scraping crusty bits from the nest, scattering dust motes into a sunlit tango. Birds would chirp gaily in the background as sweat engaged my sweatpants and the hum of mindless activity settled into place.

This ritual became a way to briefly morph from my mommy-self into my own self. I shed my worry for little toes underfoot while wiping up ancient juice spills, collecting stinky kid socks from under the couch or discovering a ball that had been lost two summers before.

I rocked rooms back to a pristine pre-child era, remembering who I was before stretch marks, until the kids returned to mark their territory yet again. The years yawned ahead, stretching beyond my understanding of the finite nature of childhood. In those seconds I gorged on freedom, giggling like a mad woman knocking back an unshared bag of M&M’s.

People often talk about their misspent youth, but the year the twins left for college I thought about misspent moments with my children as I eight-bucket mopped the sun room floor. There were memories of reading as they played at the park, only half listening to hilarious tales about somebody farting during gym class, unconscious hugs in the middle of making dinner, speaking “uh-huhs” instead of “what happened next-es.”

These are the blinks of bliss lost in the chaos of everyday living. I wept at lost opportunity (a common occurrence in homes shooing out new recruits). Sighing an “ah well” I moved on to box their outgrown leftovers. Sorting through cast-offs of miniature baseball gloves, Girl Baby and teeny tiny shoes that I treasured like Gollum, I stumbled across essentials of my children perched ready for flight.

One cup of determination lost behind the refrigerator when someone said, “That’s not how it’s done.” An armful of dreams dislodged in overwhelming reality, a jug of courage forfeited one dark night at 13, the answer to a question misplaced when a “why” was responded with a “because I said so” and a smidge of splendid uniqueness gutted in a fight over peas.

It is a retro-reel of much more than mommy-misgivings. Early on when the twins were in life training, I followed in the footsteps that had come before me. Sincerely believing it the right thing to do, I transferred vital tribal information. It was an assortment of “have tos” designed to keep youngsters in line, above bad behavior, out of jams, safe from harm, never an embarrassment and nestled in a box of sorts.

This may have been a genetic call linked to long ago times when teachings staved off extinction or perhaps it was an engorgement of my ego and a need for being right. These ancient, big people ideas swarmed over the twins’ young minds, tugging on essential feathers until acquiescence arrived.

In time I heard words, beliefs and judgments come from them and, more often than I expected, a doubtful stutter to their steps. I thought their faltering momentum was a stage just before blooming. But when I discovered their misplaced leavings I realized my error. Each beautiful pinion was a vital piece of my beloved children’s wings. A permanent loss would leave them rudderless, traveling in circles, repeating old stories. Historical custom is not necessarily a good thing. This was not an “ah well”, but an “oh sh*t.”

Over the course of the few remaining Good-bye Boot Camps, I am gathering lost feathers for my fledglings, since they have yet to understand what they will need.

When an adult person reaches the point of nowhere to turn but in, their own answers are required to capture the current as it swirls before them.

During the twins’ infrequent breaks from college I will continue sharing stories of how plumes become lost and the value of having one’s own voice, beliefs and dreams. Next June the mop water will go from muddy grey to filmy, finally running clear as I finish sifting out what is mine and what isn’t.

I’ll double-check that nothing important remains and open a bag of M&M’s for us to share. The twins will flex their wings, to force a molting of the last of their natal down. I’ll wave as they soar toward their unknown with tiny tufts floating in their wake. It is the nature of things.



Relephant Favorite: 

Celebrating the White Space of Motherhood.


Author: Deb Lecos

Editor: Travis May

Image: Author’s Own, Flickr/Donnie Ray Jones

Read 19 Comments and Reply

Read 19 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Deb Lecos  |  Contribution: 5,485