Test Flight

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I wrote this on August 14th. She is home now, having survived and begun to thrive during her first semester at college. Her grades are good and she likes her 2nd roommate (that is a tale for later...)

Her return is shocking - the hurricane strength of her Self on the household, a household that had grown peaceful, tidy and orderly is blown back apart again.  As she has done from the moment she arrived on earth.


So. Here we are.  The day before I fly my kid to college.

That kid I started writing about in 2006? Yeah. That's the one.

5 year old Emily and shockingly young mother

She's going to college in a place that is a plane ride away from me.  As such, my apocryphal dreams have kicked into super high gear with dreams so bizarre and so stress inducing that I wake after 3 or 4 hours of miserable sleep sweaty and disoriented.

Dreams of:

Being dropped into the ocean inside a suitcase, then having to pretend I am a dead body?    Check

Getting stuck in line in a Kmart, hedged in by dude bros who make me late to pick up my brother AND sneak something in my cart that I don't want to pay for so I end up leaving everything that I shopped for behind in order to find my - now lost- brother?      Check

Being forced to take a bus to a conference only to realize that I left my luggage behind and now have to give a professional talk in a terrible outfit THEN being made to wait an hour to check into a hotel by the staff who have all decided to go on break and are staring at me...then when one DOES help me, he forces me to watch a slide show on STD's before he will tell me which room is mine THEN having to walk a gauntlet of teens who mock my hair and makeup?


Over and Over, every night for a week.

Emily never actually appears in these dreams, but they are all about her, of course.


Motherhood wasn't easy for me. I thought it would be - I honestly did.

(I'll give you all a minute to laugh and then shake your head in amusement - poor sweet child, think you.)

There are a multitude of reasons that I have one child - but the main one was that one child almost broke me.  The having to split your consciousness so that you are tending to the child and attempting ( usually poorly) to set boundaries for yourself so you don't end up a Stepford Mom who only lives for your kid?

And I'm not talking about the external pressure that you internalize about what a good mom is and isn't - I mean the internal survival stuff.  The realization that your partner, while well meaning, has not given half of his brain in service to this mass of flesh and feelings and needs in front of you...and that half of your brain given over to someone else is sometimes TOO much.

I have often said that it was the constantness of parenthood that ate me up.

And now the prospect of that constantness is in retreat. I am overjoyed. I am terrified.

It feels like a trap.

Inside Dawn's brain

So while I will kind of miss someone dabbing at me every time I look at them and yelling "BABASHOOK!!!" at 80% of my questions, I also see a glimmer of getting a full brain almost back - even as I know that it was the Faustian bargain I made when I said "Hey let's have a baby".

I will, however,  enjoy the hell out of a dry bathroom floor and non-sodden towels.


The feeling is similar to watching her learn to ride a bike. 

You knew she was going to fall. You had her padded as well as you could, and you were close by to brush her off and insist she get back on the damn bike and do it again

You don't want her to hurt. You know she has to get hurt and then you force her to stand up to get hurt again....until she doesn't.

You hope you have given her all the tools to figure it out and brush herself off. Roots and Wings, right?

She has not watched the news from Charlottesville because it feels too dangerous for her. Too big, too scary. Her nest, where her father would punch the shit out a Nazi and her mother would click behind in a terrifying outfit to issue strongly worded demands in clipped language meant to cudgel, is being left behind.

Not forever, just out for some test flights, but still. Soon.


"What are you afraid of?", Terrance asks me.


Neo-Nazis targeting her, her first love and first heartbreak, her first not good grade, whether she and her room mate will like each other, the first time she is sick and away from me, drugs, sexual assault on campus, her mental health, my mental health, paying for all of this, him up and randomly dying leaving me alone to manage all of this, a plane crash to or from the college - Jesus, the list is endless.  

It all sits in a hollow space under my heart, towards the back of my rib cage. 

I do not show her this. I am funny and upbeat, telling her how much she is going to love it all - how much I loved it all.  We launch them into the world with smiles, knowing that the person who comes back will be changed. 

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