I procrastinated today by reminiscing. I found myself trapped in middle school as I leafed through the pages of my son’s junior high yearbook. About the same time, my mobile device chimed that I had received an email and as I glanced at the sender and read the message, I had to smile. One of my closest girlfriends, a junior high teacher, checked in and I found myself tossing my son’s yearbook aside to search for my own. Since I had just recently camped with our other girlfriend from our hometown, the urge to remember ourselves at that age; was strong.
When I left my childhood home, aged 17, I had not known I would never return there. Three months after leaving for college my father passed and, at the urging of my dear cousin (whom we just celebrated his 3 year death anniversary) I continued my education; never looking back. As the years blurred, my neural pathways most often used were the ones that got me through the activities of daily living. The long term details of my formative years were lost in the depths of my cerebral cortex. It is only with the parenting of my own children that the memories have returned to the surface.
I laughed out loud as I read her words. She is the friend that articulates her dreams and thoughts with astounding clarity. We would sit beneath our lockers reading an All About Sex book given by our other girlfriend’s mother; suppressing giggles and squeals of disgust. So that’s how it works. We never formally got “the talk” but the book was enough; filling our heads with images and positions unimaginable to our tweener imaginations. It is most fitting that she, now, is a junior high teacher and uses that skill to bond with her students.
One of her realizations is that we, with our limited time, only socialize with parents of our children or co-workers; any other type of relationship moves to the backburner. In talking with her peers she learned that when the children are grown that the friendship also diffuses; these networks, temporary. We cannot socialize the way we did, while single, and in our twenties. She and I live 18 miles away from one another but have not seen each other in, probably, over a year. We have been friends since age 9 and, through no fault of our own, have not been able to connect. The godmother of my eldest; the middle schooler, she is the perfect fit for him and, over the years, has encouraged his love for reading with the tools of her trade. Books.
I immediately thought of the girls in bookclub and glanced through my mobile phone’s gallery. Most of the women in our ten person bookclub are moms in my children’s grade level. Our conversations, inadvertently, return to our season of life; parenting. It made me wonder if we will continue to be friends when our children are all grown. Although we are a bookclub, a majority of our time is spent socializing; mostly about our kids. This month, however, we spent a good portion of our time picking apart Jodi Picoult’s current novel, The Storyteller, and discussing the literary content whilst enjoying Indian food and Challah bread. There is truth to my girlfriend’s statement. If our bookclub’s focus is, solely, on socializing about our kids, and not a love of reading or books, then eventually, this group will dissolve. But if our commonality, truly, is literature; I look forward to passing through our season of parenting into something more permanent and lasting.
After turning through the pages of my tweener memories I began to, once again, look through the pages of my son’s yearbook. I carefully scanned the pages; trying to glean the ins and out of my son’s daily life as a middle schooler. I asked for the names of his friends; people I do not know whom he constantly texts with. Though technology has advanced significantly from my middle school years (the Apple II was cutting edge; as were modems) the growing pains and issues remain the same.
I now find myself giving my son, the talk, and answering questions about the physical changes he is experiencing. Instead of asking his Dad, the task falls on me and I am bumbling along; finding my way. As I walk with the hubs in the early morning I contemplate my son’s growing body and mercurial moods. It is hard; the letting go. But I know that my son and I must wean ourselves. To trust, hoping his moral compass is like my own. That I have imparted enough of what’s right and wrong so that, in any given situation, he will make the right choices. I delude myself into thinking that, now that I do not wear a watch, that time stops moving. If only…
I continued to procrastinate as I contemplated the thoughts my girlfriend shared. She knows I am transitioning; we’ve shared so many of them together. N Sync’s Bye, Bye, Bye plays on the iPod as I look at the mess just outside my den doors. Our tent is undergoing repairs before our next camping excursion and the hubs is attempting to fix the zippers. We have had our current Columbia tent since 2003 and, cannot find something new that is comparable. The boys will spend the weekend camping in our living room and I will clean around it.
I almost stepped on my younger sons’ elementary school yearbook; one that I helped create and co-chaired. I am still present in our elementary school and so, instead of scrutinizing faces, I scanned page layouts; critiquing fonts, pictures and the flow of the book. I still know what goes on with my younger boys; know the parents of their friends, their teachers. But as I enter the work force I no longer volunteer in classrooms. I won’t know the ins and outs like I used to. But it is easier to transition through the stages of adolescence with my younger boys after the initial trial run with their brother. If only life was like that. If only….