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the stretching

2015 June 24
by Rachel Turiel

The skin of my own motherhood is stretching in real time. The little people, who once spent their days circling me like very small tornadoes, are inching out. It’s so heartbreaking! It’s so liberating! It’s so perfectly normal.

These children are the daily reminder that everything is in flux, that signing on the dotted line of parenthood is like entering the accelerated version of the Warp Speed Program of Impermanence. The fine print reads: be prepared to continually accommodate the next stage of children’s changing needs, no prior warnings given. Good luck!

All we parents can do is stand back, widening our orbits ever more, supporting each new incarnation of the child-self, and then allow it to slip off like a shed skin, making room for what’s next.

stretching

Beetle-sketching outside of Cuba, NM.

A few weeks ago, Col flew in a 4-seater airplane from Durango to Pagosa Springs for breakfast (and to drum up some business for his custom airplane portrait business). Upon returning, he said, preemptively, to Rose, “Please don’t interrupt me,” and proceeded to share every detail of his experience (Including, “Mom, you’re not going to like this part”—apologetic smile—“the turbulence got really crazy on the return flight. It was my favorite part.“)

I still have hopes that Col will switch his 10-year old homeschool major to library science, but when your kid is enthralled enough to pore over thick, dry airplane reference books (and correct me with amused and gentle solicitousness, “No, Mom, those are called rear stabilizers”), what can you do but become enthusiastic cheerleader to their dreams.

stretching3

Rose’s crew.

Rose and her younger buddy Jordan found a dog wandering in front of our house, recently. They led him inside, ransacking our pantry for something to feed him (not the elk jerky!), and took him on several tours of the neighborhood. I called the number on the dog’s tag, and Rose and Jordan met the owner out front. They were as proud as if they had returned a stolen piece of art to the Louvre, and promptly announced they were now animal rescuers and would be canvassing the neighborhood for more animals in need. They set off alone and came back an hour later (An hour in which I was celebrating their courage and also, feeling the slight discomfort of the stretch) reporting that they had rescued another dog (our neighbor’s dog, Chloe, an inveterate wanderer) and 3 worms.

col in btown

Col, contemplating the SF skyline from a ferry boat.

My motherhood skin stretched another inch last week, which Col spent in my hometown, Berkeley, with my parents, including flying there and back without us. He got his ten-year old mind blown by everything a city has to offer, but I think he also grew up a little in those eight days, under the influence of temporarily cutting his parents out of the deal. When Dan picked him up at the airport in Albuquerque, he strolled off the airplane, confident and relaxed, with his new flight attendant buddy (but, somehow not quite grown up enough to have not left his backpack on the airplane).

stretching2

The best thing going in Albuquerque: urban foraging.

I like to take advantage of the times my children don’t need me. My job is to notice the pitted, baby-missing place in my chest, breathe into it, and then go backpacking with Dan.

stretch7The best thing going on our last backpacking trip: coyote pups!

This is the way of all things. Larvae to pupa to butterfly. Change and growth. Leaving, returning, and leaving again. You trade in the intoxicating feeling of being the very sun that your children’s planets orbit to something a little more, well, sustainable. Something like each family member harnessing their own planet, always in and out of each others’ gravitational pull.

As I was at home waiting to get the text from Dan that Col’s plane had landed, feeling jacked up on anxiety and my own overactive imagination, (Dan was, meanwhile, at the Albuquerque airport cheerfully watching soccer on the big screen ), I thought: we will never do this again. This, being, let Col out of our sight, let him out into the big, wild world of possibility, of adventure, growth and risk.

But, of course, we will, all of us stretching in the process.

Related posts:

Dispatches from the solo mothership
My One New Years Resolution 2011
November


13 Responses leave one →
  1. Baba permalink
    June 24, 2015

    “always in and out of each others’ gravitational pull” . Love it and so true. Thanks for parting with Col for a most wonderful week. We already miss him although we are getting to rest a bit after playing tourists and proxy parents for a week.

  2. Michelle permalink
    June 24, 2015

    Oh how I remember those days of letting them walk to the bus stop alone, or going to the park alone, …so much angst! But, when the day comes that they need to venture out into the world without you and be independent……you will feel somewhat secure knowing you nurtured their independence and they will be ever so grateful that you let them stretch their wings while growing up. I just released my youngest to live in Silverton with his brother and he is thriving and it so warms my heart when he calls and says Thank You for being a great Mom! Sure, I still worry but it’s so exciting to have energetic conversations on the phone with him now because I think he actually misses us. And, like his brother, and Russell and I, his love of the San Juans is powerful and Silverton is a great place to start living on his own.
    (Just make sure they learn to do laundry before you send them out into the world!)

  3. Kathy permalink
    June 24, 2015

    I too remember those times. Especially I remember one when Robin, my then 10 or so year old daughter, took off from West Texas to Washington State with some friends, two of whom were boys, and their mom! They stopped off at Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, and slept with a buffalo roaming outside their tent. To fly from Washington, and because of a plane problem, she ended up spending the night with my friend’s (the mother) brother, who took her back to the airport the next morning. Sarah and I had driven to Denver to pick up Robin (so they could both be with their grandfather). What a crazy life in this day and time with children who have such freedom to roam. And the stretching… it never stops, Rachel. Not even when they are 35 and 30. We all grow together, learning and leaning.

  4. Sara permalink
    June 24, 2015

    “The little people, who once spent their days circling me like very small tornadoes, are inching out. It’s so heartbreaking! It’s so liberating!”

    Man o man. No doubt.

  5. Susan S permalink
    June 24, 2015

    Congratulations to Rose and her friend! Helping someone–human or otherwise–find their way home is no small feat. The world needs more helpers like that. And that Col! What an adventurer! The sky is literally the limit! You and Dan are such marvelous parents. The world needs more people like you, too, and I’m so glad you’re here! Susan :-)

  6. julia permalink
    June 24, 2015

    No! Stop it! I’m not ready.

  7. Katy permalink
    June 24, 2015

    No! Don’t do it. Just keep him there, always. I’m just getting the hang of this mom thing, and they are so cute. They can’t leave. Never.

  8. Demandra permalink
    June 24, 2015

    I have a friend who is in labor RIGHT FREAKIN’ NOW!! with her first (and probably only) baby. I’m not a mom, so I have no idea what this journey is going to be like for her. I must remember to send her here, when she is able to do things like sleep (that will be in about 3 years, right?). I love the way in which you parent. Such gems to be found.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      June 25, 2015

      Don’t tell her anything. Better to be blissfully unaware. :)

  9. Carly permalink
    June 25, 2015

    “what can you do but become enthusiastic cheerleader to their dreams.”
    Amen, Sister. This is my favorite part…of parenting, homeschooling.

  10. June 26, 2015

    Goodness, this is just so beautifully written, and so true in the most bittersweet of ways. Thank you for sharing your parenting journey with us.
    -Jaime

  11. June 28, 2015

    Rachel: I love love love the way Col and Rose are growing up, and the way you create space in yourself and in your family for this to happen, but I love even more the way you manage to tell us the whole thing is such a heart-beating, stop-breathing way.

    (By which I mean that I forget to breathe and I can feel my heart beating through the whole post. So I have to hurry to the end, and then start again).

    I love you all.

    xo

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