Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
SEPTEMBER 19, 2012 8:45AM

One Shade of Grey

Rate: 38 Flag

Come sit on my bed with me, Mom. 

One of my favorite invitations. She says it often, although usually we are piled on top of my bed when she's home. We watch bad televison and talk through most of it.  I ask her how I'm supposed to get over to the bed. The floor is cluttered with clothes and books and empty glasses that should have been carried out to the kitchen the night before.

Just step over it.  

Her suitcases are open.  Empty. Waiting. 

I make my way over to her bed. Move over,  I tell her. There's no room on this little bed for us both.  I jockey for the spot next to her. I am cold.

Earlier, my husband and I are sitting in the living room. We can feel each other's sadness. Her time here is coming to an end. 

It's your fault for raising a bright, ambitious girl who had to go to college and see the world.  He  is teasing me.  

She makes me laugh when we go out together.  She eats a plate of mussels and sips a beer called "Fat Tire."  I am intrigued. I am not a mussel eater or a beer drinker. She offers me a taste of both. 

For the first time, I see I am sitting with a person. A person with her own mind, her own tastes, her own life. A person moving away again.

As it should be.

I tell my husband, Maybe If I hadn't read to her so early, maybe if I hadn't taken her to all those galleries and museums, she would have just been content to stay home and work down the street.  I am teasing him back. 

We raised her to leave.

I walk into her room today and see the floor is cleaned up. The glasses have been taken to the sink, the suitcases are holding her neatly folded clothes.  You all packed up?   It's  a silly question. She knows I  will miss her terribly.  She knows I could not be more proud of her if I tried. 

I am already cold. Her sweater hangs over the chair and I slip it on. 

I think how it must feel to be the girl inside this sweater. So much talent, so much promise.  Moving to a new city, working alongside the big dogs.  

We will have to adjust again, he and I.

He promises he will do more for himself. Think about himself for a change.

I know I can't hold him to it. 

 I am suffocating under the weight of his sadness.  

There is life in the house when she is here. Bright and colorful, like Dorothy landing in Oz. As the door shuts behind her, it fades to grey. 

I will be cold for a few days after she leaves. I think about stealing the sweater.

 It will shield me against the inevitable chill that fills the house. 

I have no armour for the grey that will surround us like thick fog.









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That metaphor, Joan, is stunning.


And the way I'll feel in about 3 more years when both boys are out on their own.
Every morning when she leaves I feel the same thing. Then she texts me to bring her soccer cleats to school, and I get to do something for her again. Happy.

Rated! And Tink Picked!
They leave and come back, over and over. This moment now is a hard one, deciding who you are going to be when she is gone. This is a beautifully written piece Joanie. I see you blooming before our eyes these past years.
well written and a fun touching read
I completely understand this. My daughter is the same age. We raised all three of our children to be independent. She really is. Oh, how far she will go...
My daughter and granddaughter just left. It is never easy. And I have no handsome husband to keep me company now in the grey. Lovely post Joan...
Hugs, Joan - Hugs and Love
Steal her sweater... and call her a lot just to let her know you're still there for her. When you're all grown up that's what Mom's are for!
You write for a lot of people at this time of the year. Even those of us who are past it...remembering.

Perfectly lovely.
You know I get this. Almost too painful to read. Like the birds in the "Andy Griffith Show," we raise them to fly! XXOO to you and so happy that you have raised such a wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent young woman. RRR
Lovely, poetic post, Joan. Your little girl is all grown up.
Pitch. Perfect. I'm there with you in spirit, taking up more space on the bed, making fun of those trashy shows... the very opposite of you and the special young woman you raised her to be. We dropped our nestling off at the train station Monday night, at least they will be in the same city. How's this: I will be your sweater and you will be mine.
Parental purpose: to become obsolete. Comes with a touch of grey. Well said, Joan.

Beautiful and sad...the inevitable outcome of raising a sturdy spirit, one who is confident of her ability to leave the nest.
Yep. It happens every time I see him close the door behind him. It never goes away completely. The song "You Light Up My Life" comes to mind. Your sadness comes through this terrific writing loudly and clearly.

Second read, and won't be the last, Joan.
This is wonderful, wrenching writing.
What Rita said, about blossoms ...

But ! There is life after children !

... yeah, I know ...
I walk by our middle son's just vacated room and am startled each time. He's left and come back a few times now as he makes his way through school, so I didn't take note of his leaving until he was gone, almost.
Now I wonder if it was the last time....

As it should be, but still.

As Rita said.
Finding the new "me" without kids.
Your yoga studio is a good segue, isn't it? Still have children around....
I hope this next phase for you is filled with daily contentment.
I walk by our middle son's just vacated room and am startled each time. He's left and come back a few times now as he makes his way through school, so I didn't take note of his leaving until he was gone, almost.
Now I wonder if it was the last time....

As it should be, but still.

As Rita said.
Finding the new "me" without kids.
Your yoga studio is a good segue, isn't it? Still have children around....
I hope this next phase for you is filled with daily contentment.
"Come sit on my bed with me, Mom. "

So this is what daughters say?
How wonderful.
I've never once heard a similar phrase -- my sons just have cute awkward sudden hugs that almost bowl me over...especially the 6'3" son...
: )
I'd encourage you to develop this. The visual of Dorothy and the Oz movie is particularly fabulous.
You and your husband are such awesome, loving parents, Joanie H. Your daughter is so lucky to have the both of you, and a soft place to land.

(Doesn't Art James wax poetic about Fat Tire Beer's ringing a distant, peaceful bell... :)
What life, Kim??
What kind of life is it, really, without kids....?
This is beautiful, Joanie. I can see this day coming for me, and I wonder how I will do.
There's no one like mom. There's no one like mom. There's no one like mom.

Oh I don't know, Just Thinking ...

I was just trying to make Jone feel better, but you're right :
it sucks.

Let's just count ourselves lucky we had them, isn't it.
Or for those who haven't had them, were them, once ...
Oh Joan ...

So many ways to feel this cold ... this fog ... this sadness ... this one shade of grey ...

I've not been the mom ... but I've been the child ... and still ... I see ... my mother's eyes ...
But where my mom could almost always only feel such loss ... your daughter's mom feels such love ... even as she reaches for the sweater ... even as she sees her husband's sadness ... there is no armour to shield us from such love ...
Such gifts ... you give us all ...
You all write the loveliest, most poetic comments!
Thank you everyone for reading and adding your thoughts.
I always appreciate it so much.
Oh Joanie, I know this feeling you describe so well. And the thin shreds of heart we are left with that the wind gets through, and so cold, so cold without them. "We raised her to leave". How we do such a brave, right thing and then spiral down into a dark cold place. You write about the heart break, and rebreak, that makes our hearts bigger, I suppose, in the end. You do it such justice, Joanie, this pride and loss all intermingled.
I did the same for my wonderful girl and when she jumped out of the nest, she set out to see the world... now she lives in New Zealand. NEW ZEALAND! That's why I'm up at this hour - Skyping for an hour and a half at the end of her work day on the other side of the world. So Joan... I guess it could be worse - ha. Nice read.
So you're not one of those parents who can't wait to turn the kid's room into something else. (I knew you weren't.) This is beautiful and bittersweet.
Nice description of what life must be like for empty nesters. My time will come, too. Only four more years. I already miss him. ... BTW: Fat Tire is from Colorado! :)
Joan, your writing never ceases to blow me away. "We raised her to leave." So much in that one sentence.
Mine will leave one day. I dread it. But if we do our job well, this is how it works.
Beautiful. I'm not a mother, but I can only imagine how my mother felt as I made my way out into the world.
This made me so sad, but also so proud of you and your husband. Letting your daughter be free, and be her own person, is the truest kind of love. I hope her time away from you will be easier than you think, and I hope she'll be back to visit again soon.
I love this. My daughter is only 5, but sometimes late at night when I'm alone with my thoughts, they wander to how I might handle life when that day comes. -rated-
This is so sad but beautiful. I experience it from the other side--being the daughter who leaves. My parents also "raised me to leave," but sometimes a part of me wishes I could be content to stay home, live with them, and work in my hometown. It would be so much simpler, and we wouldn't have to miss each other. But this is life. I only love and appreciate my parents more for the distance.
Thank you, Joan. I'm cold and gray and proud as I can be too. I need a sweater.
Aw Bell. Maybe we need to take up knitting. xox
not the same, i know, but a crazy crazy idea: what about big brothers big sisters or adopt a grandparent? not that you are old enough to be a grandparent, but think of the little kid you could read to and take to museums and make such a difference for! and once you have your own child to love, you know how much easier it is to love all children! i am so pleased with this brilliant idea! or wait, better yet - i send the boy to you! YES!

i am sorry, joanie, that you and DH are suffering this. between you and bell, i am starting to get scared.

love and hugs to you.