Last week Son2 called from college, all excited about his last year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He’s drafting a proposal for a grant, the framework for a thesis on “Marxist jurisprudence,” reeling in letters of recommendation, hoisting 18 credit hours and starting a part-time job. And, oh, would I mind sending him $25 for another book he needs?
After we hung up, I had to find his baby shoes. I’m not sure why, but I needed to reconnect with the little boy he once was. We keep a ‘boy box’ for each of our children. These boxes hold abandoned favorite toys, hand prints, sample report cards, Scout awards – tiny, useless-valuable things. We say these boxes are for them; that when they grow up and leave, we’ll hand them over. But Son1 has already left and the other is nearly gone, and we still have the boxes.
I can’t tell you the emotions I feel when I hold these little shoes. I see the flash of golden hair. I hear once again the bells in his baby voice. It’s pretty complex. He was a real shit as a little guy. His first word was “No!” He battled us all the way through high school.
Yet, just typing this now brings a lump to my throat. Yes, you can be all rational and ‘learn to let go.’
But this empty-nester can’t.