Just Like That

I’m sitting here in my office working on bills as if it were any other Saturday even though a seismic shift occurred in my world less than 24 hours ago.  Because life does, in fact, go on.

Twenty-two-and-a-half years ago, give or take, we welcomed our third child.  This was our second baby in just over a year, and we brought him home to a 2.5 bedroom apartment and placed him in the cradle by our bed, which we hadn’t even bothered to put away between babies.

We named this 12 lb. bundle of joy Richard Theodore because I’d always wanted a boy I could call Teddy, and the name suited him well as he grew from big baby to roly-poly toddler who filled out 4T rompers by the time he was a year old.

Teddy and the Teletubbies 2

Teddy was my baby for six years.  I developed extremely toned biceps from toting around my 75 lb. four-year-old.  He was none too pleased about the arrival of his baby brother, but he was in kindergarten by then and already building a reputation as the smart, academic achiever that he would continue to be all the way through college.

Teddy Zorro Birthday 2

You know the rest of the story.  The days are long but the years are short and all that.

Teddy (or to use his preferred name, Theo) graduated from college in May.  Yesterday I dropped him off at the airport.  Now he’s in San Francisco, where he’ll start his first professional job on Monday.

Right now I feel like posting a comment on every baby picture I see on Facebook saying enjoy them while you can they grow so fast but that’s not a thing that anyone really understands or wants to hear when their kids are fretful infants or whining toddlers or stubborn preschoolers.  I’ve read many a thread and post complaining about the meddlesome old ladies who say those kinds of things.  But here’s the deal:  we aren’t trying to be bossy or irritating or to minimize the work and stress of coping with small children–we just want you to realize what we didn’t; we want you to fully experience the joy of what you have, because we would give anything just to have one more day of it.

Because twenty-two-and-a-half years ago I brought a baby boy home from the hospital.

And just like that, he was gone.

Teddy Leaving for SF

Birthday Girl

Tomorrow Lorelei, our baby, will turn 11.  True to her birth order, she’s very much still the “baby” of the family, although she is surprisingly capable if no one is around to baby her.

Lorelei is homeschooled, and thus somewhat sheltered from a culture that pressures little girls to grow up too soon, and I like it that way.  Many 11-year-olds have already moved on from toys to boys.  Not this girl.

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True, she will be using those stuffed animals to star in the music videos that she films and uploads to her very own YouTube channel, but she also picks at least one to cuddle with every night.   She had names for each one of these picked out before her birthday even arrived.

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Right after her party guests left yesterday (we will be celebrating her actual birthday with dinner at Texas Roadhouse, her request), she went to film a video displaying her birthday gifts.  This is apparently a thing that “Kinz Tubers” (girls who make YouTube videos featuring their Webkinz stuffed toys) do whenever they have a birthday.  They also make videos of themselves unwrapping new toys when they come in the mail, and they work together to make collaborative videos called MEPs.  There is a whole language that comes along with this, and it has been fun to see Lorelei getting involved with her own little online world and teaching herself the many new skills that are involved in becoming part of it.

Being able to use stuffed toys as props in somewhat more grownup pursuits is a neat way for little girls on the edge of adolescence to keep a foot in both worlds.  I love the combination of big girl and little girl, but I hope the little girl part stays with us for awhile longer.

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nablopomo

Letting Go

“Is there anything to eat?”

I think that’s maybe what I’ll miss the most–my hungry boy saying those words to me, in person or on the phone, usually multiple times on any given day.  I almost cried this weekend watching him fight his way through the mob in the cafeteria, trying to fill up his plate with meat.  I wished he could just sit down somewhere and wait while I sauteed a pan of boneless chicken tenders, just the way he likes them.

We left him at Notre Dame yesterday, about to begin his big adventure.  I’m not worried about him.  I’ve been through four years of college with one kid already and I know we will all be okay.  But I also know that things will never be the same.  Teddy is in many ways a closed book to me, with his own thoughts and his own life that he does not share.  But he still relies on me for certain things, and that is going to change.

When he was little, when he needed me, he would say, “Hold mine hand.”  He didn’t want to hold hands for long, just for a few seconds, until he felt better.  He’s always been good at letting go.  But he let me hold his hand this weekend, and he didn’t make a fuss when I played with his beautiful, thick, too-long hair.   He hugged me good-bye, and when I cried he hugged me again.

I was the one to let go, to say good-bye and turn and walk away.  One morning you go to a hospital, and you leave with a baby.  Eighteen years later, you go to a college, and leave without one.

Maybe only a mother can look at a six foot 260-lb. man and see her baby.  But I do.

Teddy Pumpkin
ND goodbye 3
Letting Go
UPDATE: This morning Teddy left to begin his Senior year at Notre Dame. The good-byes definitely get easier, but the homecomings are no less exciting! As I expected when I wrote this, we have seen less and less of Teddy. He came home that first summer, but worked in Chicago the following summer and was in in Stamford, Connecticut this summer. His end-of-summer visit home this year was interrupted by trips to New York City and San Francisco for job interviews. But he still likes me to feed him when he is home, and I find he still depends on us for help with a few things, even as he heads toward becoming a full-fledged adult.

UPDATE PART II:  Teddy graduated in May 2017 and moved to San Francisco in July.