Having kids makes us sentimental and a bit loopy. As babies, they weave themselves into our very souls…and we don’t know what to do when they grow up and get on with their lives. It ain’t easy being a Parent.
My youngest daughter came to visit me in NorCal for the summer. She is my princess—my baby—a Senior at a College in Omaha….A spirited 22-year-old College Kid who drove across five states to see her Ol’ Mom on the West Coast. 2000 miles of white-line fever…Endless Wyoming. The saltflats of Utah. The grimness of a Nevada desert highway. It’s a real feat for a hardened traveler like me—let alone a College Kid.
My daughter wasn’t daunted. “I made it just fine,” Mystia said, upon arrival. “I have my GPS!”
She had other electronic wonders hidden in her Smartphone, as well. She put them to good use—taking candid video clips of me living my daily life. She shared them on Social Media. Her friends responded with gales of laughter that echoed across Cyberspace. I have no idea what’s so funny.
Immediately upon arrival, Mystia took over my bedroom….my dressers, my cabinets, my bed, and my breathing space. Retreating to the couch, I look on bemused. I tolerate her gladly–paying dearly for the privilege of being a mom.
It ain’t easy being a Parent.
My bulging closet full of clothes had to be examined, and most items were dismissed as obsolete. She helped me organize a Yard Sale and we sold a few of my things—a feat that she thought remarkable—considering what we had to work with.
Mystia joined a gym and insisted that I sign up for a membership as well. She put me through a series of rigorous exercises and tortures especially designed to strengthen my half-century old muscles. I groaned my way through it. The toning, the workouts, the warm-ups…the cool-downs. It hasn’t done much for my body, but it has improved the relationship with my daughter considerably. She’s quite proud of me…At least for the moment.
I wanted to share with Mystia the glories of the West Coast. But within days of her arrival, it seems that our Pacific Paradise has gone completely wacky. I took her to my favorite stretch of coastline, hoping to find sand-dollars. Instead, we found a beachful of dying jellyfish, dead birds and rotting seals.
“What’s going on?” I said. “It’s never been like this before!”
“It’s my fault,” Mystia sighed. “I’ve brought with me the curse of death.”
She may be right. I’ve been on the West Coast off-and-on for the last seven years, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Out in the ocean—off the Oregon coast—underwater volcanoes have begun to erupt. Earthquakes are rippling the placid Pacific now, and scientists are becoming concerned. The tectonic plates and subduction zone has been locked up tight and the pressure has been building for years.
It’s going to blow one of these days. But none of that bothers my College Kid. “I can’t wait to feel my first earthquake!” she says.
We had a small, preliminary quake the other day—just to make her happy—but it had quite the opposite effect. The quake occurred at 4:00 in the morning and Mystia slept right through it. It made her mad.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “One of these days we’ll have a quake that’s big enough for you. Too big, in fact. A megaquake is coming that will take out the whole West Coast. That’s what Scientists say.”
She wasn’t overly concerned. College Kids have much bigger things to worry about, actually. Monumental things….like getting textbooks in the mail so they can do their Summer Classes online.
Yesterday, Mystia was in a panic. “My first assignment in Psychology is due by midnight…and I barely got my textbook in the mail today!”
I offered to help with the assignment—but my daughter said it was beyond my scope. The assignment was about “Parenting”. What could I possibly know about that subject?…or about anything else, for that matter?
Unfortunately, College has a way of enlarging the brain cells of our children to an enormous size, and it takes a good while for them to shrink back again to normal. The College-of-Hard- Knocks will someday restore their brain cells to proper size. It always does.
Until then, I’ll just enjoy the Journey.
We’re churning toward the end of Summer now. Soon, I will regain the rights to my bed, my closet, and my dresser. Mystia will vanish into the Halls-of-Higher-Learning, once more, and I will be alone—with only the echo of her laughter and the lingering scent of her perfume on my pillow. My heart aches for her already.
She is my Princess. I taught her to read…to do math…to write stories. She taught me to use the Computer properly…to smile when I’m sad…To laugh the night away until our hysterical giggles become wet with tears—or something definitely worse.
I must make the most of each passing day, and store every memory in my heart for the days ahead. Every smile. Every glance and grimace. Every moment of intense fellowship…All packed away in the time-capsule of my Heart…to be opened again sometime in the future.
When the front door shuts for the last time and her footsteps fade from my daily life, I will wander the pathways of Memory—hearing again the echo of our sweet Summer Sojourn. I will hear it as the twilight deepens…as the crickets chirp and a lonely moon rises above the bay.
I will remember…oh yes, I will remember….And the tears will fall like rain.
It ain’t easy, folks.
It ain’t easy being a Parent.