A few months ago, I told my Mom that I was going to grow out my hair.
"How long? Not too long? What are you going to do with it?" she pondered out loud.
Instantly, I was 15 years old again. And in my head, I thought, I'll grow it down to my ass if I want, but I said, "Shoulder-length, maybe longer."
I laughed at myself, to feel that teenage indignancy raising it's ugly head. Surely, I'm past that, I thought, she's not supposed to get to me that way anymore.
Yet, now that it's longer, and weird every day, not to mention curly (where did that come from?), I find myself hearing my Mom's voice in my head. And I reach for a barrette, because she hates it when my hair is in my face, so I can clip up my bangs. It makes me crazy. It is crazy.
I don't think I'll make it to "down to my ass."
We were talking at the end of last week, and I was telling her that I had to buy clothes for Nolan because he's grown quite a bit.
"How are you doing, since he's starting jr high?" she asked.
"Oh, fine," I breezily replied, "he's really excited and looking forward to it, I think he'll be okay.."
"But, mija," she interrupted quietly, "I meant," she pauses, "how are you doing?" she says pointedly.
Big pause. I'm thinking of my answer, when she adds that it was always a little hard for her when we were starting something new.
"Ummm," I stammer a bit, because I know that I really don't want to admit it, "I'm okay, I guess. I'm getting used to the idea, but it is a little hard."
And I was off the phone like a shot. Which probably was silly of me, because if anyone would understand this, it would be my Mom, right?
It's not that I don't want my kids to ever grow up, that I'm not able to face that. That's not it at all, it would be silly to think that I would be able to arrest them at a certain age and stay there for ever.
It's just that sometimes it goes a little fast. Some cosmic fast-forward button gets pushed, but mine gets missed. It's not always fun playing catch up. As usual, she knows me, she knows this, she's been there.
My Mom has never been one to be out and about. She's a little shy. So she always encouraged me and my brother to be outgoing, and not afraid to go places.
It was a huge adjustment for her, she's told me, when I started leaving the house for summer programs and camps and such; and an even bigger one when I went away to college. She missed me, and worried, just like any mother would. But she told me that she realized that she had to be content that she raised me well, that hopefully the things she taught me stuck, and that I would get on in the world okay. This meant, she said, letting go.
This is something I've taken to heart, when I'm teaching the kids just about anything. Take this information, because you might need it someday, I think, as I squeeze in some bit of trivia that seems minor, even silly, at the time.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, jr high is not a big deal. It's not high school. It's not college. He's not getting married, or having a baby.
But it's just that letting him out into the world, where I'm hopefully the good voice in his head, feels like the first big step in letting him go.
Boy, it's a doozy.