There’s a pit in my stomach, a mix between excitement and dread.
Final day before my mini marathon and I’m wondering whether I logged, pedaled and swam enough to pull it off. “What are you trying to prove?” my mother asked. “I’m not really sure,” I said. And I’m not.
I got really sad last year when my son left for college. I left my writing career and became a full-time mom 18 years ago because I couldn’t do both well, and I didn’t want to screw up the parenting part. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar noted in a speech in New Haven last week, you can always go back and work on your writing. That’s why he gets more nervous writing than he ever did playing basketball.
You can’t go back and parent. Every stage of child rearing requires a certain self-sacrifice and at the end of it all, you hope to have a decent kid. Or not. I know a lot of parents who did everything right and still face enormous heartache _ drug overdoses, suicide, fatal car crashes, crisis pregnancies, jail, illnesses, sudden death. There are also plenty of parents who fail their children who wind up with fantastic kids. Sometimes I think it’s a crapshoot.
For me, the loss of control began when my son began driving. We no longer shared tales or the latest songs in the car on the way to sports practices. He was pulling away, and though I knew it was normal, it was painful. His junior and senior years were difficult _ he refused to buckle down, wouldn’t fill out college applications, drove recklessly, and held a drinking party for 75. He did things that shocked me.
The anxiety was crushing at times. A wise man told me the hardest part of having children is letting them go. I’m still working on that part, but getting there.
So maybe this tri, mini as it is, does make sense after all. Having one child away and another crying for her freedom gives me time to reclaim things that were dormant for many years. I used to run, swim and bike, and I still can. I just forgot.