We all have our ideals of how things should turn out. We make plans. In our heads, we play out scenarios, perfecting them in our minds.
Our hearts want what they want. Sometimes it’s the smallest, almost seemingly insignificant event that triggers some of our strongest emotional reactions.
For whatever reason, I had in my head a specific plan of how my son’s college drop-off would transpire. Even though my son’s Dad and I are divorced, we have successfully co-parented since our separation. We both were planning to be in attendance for his send-off. Unspoken but understood between us were the “roles” each of us would assume during the process.
“Instead, I was the lead in “Hurt & Helpless: A Mother’s Nightmare.””
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate. Life happens and we are left with no option but to react.
A skydiving mishap stuck me in the emergency room for 20 hours the day of his scheduled move-in. Since then I have been working on recovering from three compression fractures in my spine.
The fantasies in my head around helping my son get situated in his new four-year home were replaced by the reality of my injury and pursuant limitations. My job quickly migrated from caregiver to care receiver. For whatever reason, or no reason at all, it wasn’t in the cards for me to play out the scene “College Room Prep: The Beginning of the Empty Nest.” Instead, I was the lead in “Hurt & Helpless: A Mother’s Nightmare.”
What was it that I wanted to do so desperately? What was so important to me to achieve on that day?
Making my son’s bed and putting his clothing in the drawers of his dorm room dresser. Yes, for me, that’s what symbolized the landmark act of a mother who was minutes away from her first and only empty nest. This was MY role in the move-in process. No one appointed me or delegated those activities. I am the mother — clearly.
Ridiculous, I know. But, I wanted to set up his room. I believed that by making sure everything was in its place somehow that would protect my baby. That somehow that would help make him feel safe.
Did The Bed Get Made?
“I am reminded that adaptability and flexibility are equally important and necessary survival skills.”
Of course it did. But not by Dad — so NOT his job. Instead, my son’s friend helped him make his own bed. The clothes, however, did not make it out of the trunk. The male engineering behind that being,Why move them at all? It’s extra, senseless work, to my son’s way of thinking. Finding that out, smarted a bit. It’s just wrong, isn’t it?
As it turns out, I did get to make Aidan’s bed finally. Sure, it wasn’t as originally planned – due to that whole “life happens” thing. The event did not play out the way I had imagined it. It played out nonetheless. And, to be perfectly blunt, the actual making of the bed wasn’t that exciting or fulfilling. No real-life protection spell was cast as I placed the comforter on top.
While I am not suggesting I, or anyone else, should ever stop fantasizing or planning or dreaming, I am reminded that adaptability and flexibility are equally important and necessary survival skills. Being ready to accept what life throws at us, to maneuver around the blind curves with grace, really frees us up to live in the now. And, the now is all we can count on.