End of an Era

Today, my only kiddo is graduating high school, an event guaranteed to launch a fleet of memories, including those related to motherhood and the career.

Early on, when I was just beginning and struggling to balance a more-than-full-time job and a new baby (grad school, too, while I was at it), I squeezed as much writing time as I could manage into naptimes. All too quickly, that was over.

Later, I wrote around those moments when he was happily occupied with his Little People or his Lincoln Logs or -- heaven forgive me -- those sing-along or movie videos I used to steal a little time. All too quickly, that was over, too, and he started off to school.

Since I was still teaching, I'd come home and spend time with the boy and the man, make their dinner and tuck the little one into his bed, then write between the hours of eight and ten-thirty every evening. On weekends and during the summer, I'd steal even more time as I was able. About this period, I began slipping away for occasional weekend writers' conferences, but as long as I came back with a Beanie Baby, he was all smiles.

All too quickly, that season ended, too.

When he was in the second grade, I made my first sale. As he wondered how this might affect his own life, I remember making the suggestion that he could help me at booksignings. With big tears in his eyes, he burst out, "But I don't even know how to write cursive!" As it turned out, having an author-mom quickly became yesterday's news, something he takes for granted just as he would if I were still working as a teacher. He did occasionally exhibit staccato bursts of pride, as in the time he boasted to his soccer coach this his mom was "semi-famous." And then, that time passed us by as well.

Enter the mean season, the teen season. You remember, the one where everything your parents do (breathing included) is mortifying? Somewhere in all this, he heard romance equated to trash and took it to heart, even though the teen movies he enjoyed had considerably more "adult" (though not in the emotional sense) content. At that point, he avoided telling people what I do, though after while, he got over it and worked out a "you do your thing, I'll do mine" peace.

About a week-and-a-half ago, I sold what will be my fifteenth and sixteenth novels and lamented that when I first started, I used to score roses and a nice dinner out. This time, I stopped by the Mc-Drive-thru to pick up a couple of sundaes. He told me I should take it as a compliment that my successes have become routine, something expected of me by the family. Publishing has become a regular gig and not a miracle. We had one of those cool, adult-like conversations where it dawns on you that your child is becoming not exactly the person you set out to raise, but this mysterious being you've been privileged to watch unfold.

And because he's going off to college in a couple of months, I know that this time, too, will pass too quickly, that I'll soon have all the time I wish to write... and it will leave me longing for a bit less.


Natale Stenzel said…
Aw, what a cutie he is in that picture, Colleen. Congrats to you and to him on his graduation -- and surviving the teen years.

The biggest irony of raising kids: if you do it right they leave you. But you must be so proud of him today:).

Thanks so much, Natale! He still is a cutie, just bigger. :)

You're right about the irony. And about the pride part, too.
Joe Cottonwood said…
Great photo (speaking as someone who makes a living wearing a tool belt).

Congrats to the young man, and to the Mom who gave him the tools to live by.
Christie Craig said…

Since we both have boys the same age, you made me cry too.

Great post.

Christie Craig
Thanks so much, Joe and Christie!

He sure did love that tool belt. Ironically, he's not too sure of what to do with one now. :)
Angie Fox said…
Okay. You got me. I made it to the second to last paragraph, but you got me.

Some days, I long for a little more writing time, but you're right, all too quickly we're going to be yearning for a bit less. Great post.
nancykaybowden said…
Sniff. Oh, Colleen, I'm down to one out of four children still home and you have me reaching for a tissue. I am JUST starting the fourth set of high school years and know exactly how fast they go.
(And how difficult they can be.)
The last in the nest and I used to match up our hands and feet as he was getting ready for school--just to see how close we were to the same size. Now he just looks down at me with a grin on his newly shaved face in the morning, pats me on the head and says, "Hey, Mom, how's it going down there." (He not THAT tall!)

Best wishes to your son, and to you with MORE writing time and MORE exciting books.

Happy Graduation!
Joni Rodgers said…
Congratulations, Colleen!

(You're a sporting model now!)
Thanks, Joni, and thanks to you for stopping by, Angie and Nancy Kay!

Everybody (even Grandma) made it through last evening's looooong ceremony with flying colors.

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