Both my children moved recently. My daughter out to Southern California for medical school, and my son to a non-hip region of Brooklyn, for his first solo apartment.
At one point during the last couple of weeks, I had a brief thought fragment. You know what I mean by fragment, right? Not a complete sentence, more like a comment overheard at a party.
“When she is settled – murmur, murmur, sigh and rustle.” And then when I moved closer to the conversation I was having with myself, I realized how silly my thought was.
Life doesn’t come with much inherent settling.
My own story involves 3 apartments, 1 co-op, 1 house, 1 year lived in London, 3 months travel in India, flights to Prague, Munich, Paris, Toronto, Miami, and who knows where, 2 marriages, and multiple friends made and lost. The times when I was ostensibly settled, married with young children, were in some ways the most unsettled of all. The most requiring of internal shifts. Albeit for love.
So , another perspective. Life is unsettled, by nature. Unable to still the world what we need is tools to grapple and smooth.
When my daughter was first starting to date in college, I sent her a package from Sephora. “Here is mascara, and assorted unguents. There. All you need to have boys see how beautiful you are.” Superficial, perhaps, but boys are visual creatures and one must face reality before deciding to fight it. My son makes decisions; I offer analytical frameworks. I’d give him mascara too but he says it’s not his look.
Tools. Enablement. Skills.
And there, I think, I have to back off. I couldn’t choose the college boyfriends, I can’t mandate the career path, I will never breathe that, “Well that’s done now, they’re settled,” sigh of relief, because that sigh isn’t real.
On the other hand, at my wedding recently, I asked my father if he had noted that all his children were now happily married. “Ha, well, yes, I had rather thought,” he laughed – in the High WASP way of swallowing one’s important words.
I boiled water in the electric tea kettle this morning, not for me, but in case Significant Husband needed it later. I thought, you can settle into someone’s care, no matter what is quaking or blowing elsewhere. It’s not a stationary feeling, not a “Well here I am and let me put down my backpack” thing. Instead, a constant low bubble of comfort and joy.
The thing is, I’m not sure how I got here. I do not know what tools were required except paying close attention to meaning and humanity. To say nothing of luck and forgiveness, which are no one’s tools. As a result, I’m not sure how to enable my children in this process, except perhaps to model care. And, as we all do, tell them truthfully just how loveable they are.
Maybe with an extra fillip of why, found only in close attention.
Have a wonderful weekend.