Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's Just Right Now

Foreword:  In a situation that many graduates face today, our son left  college with a  job that
would end in three months with no other prospects in sight. We asked him to come home, drop his bags, and save some money  while he made a plan. It was not what we expected, it was not what he wanted. But I knew it would not be forever. Two years later, he found the job he'd been searching for: a byline as a sportswriter for a large newspaper.

The post that follows is the one I wrote right after he came home, when I knew in the blink of an eye I'd be looking back on this period, and missing it. It is for homecoming graduates and parents alike: this time is just right now.  Appreciate it.

It's just right now.

Among the things I say to our children when they are in the middle of a wonderful experience, or trudging through a bad one is: It’s just right now. Up or down, good or bad, it’s just right now. Five or six years ago, among the things I said to our children when I should have shut up instead was this:  I’m sending you all to bartending school before you graduate college. That way, if you don’t find your dream job right away, you’ll always have a way to pay the rent because after four years, you won’t want to come back home to live.

But that was five or six years ago “before the economy…” blah blah blah.

I was wrong on two fronts. That bartending school is any guarantee of a job behind an actual bar. And, that the “idea” of coming back home between graduating and career-ing was anything we had to discourage. No college graduate wants to do that.

Now that it’s become a reality these five or six years later, I hear my own voice and it is telling me: It’s just right now. In that spirit I have not only created space for Drew and insisted he drop his bags and be here while he’s gathering steam for the next “chapter,” I have had some of the best weeks of my recent life having him here, right now. It’s not just because Drew’s company is wonderful and uplifting, it’s because I’m getting a rare opportunity to know him anew as an adult. One who, these five or six years later, empties the dishwasher and picks up milk on the way home from work and does his own laundry. We talk and laugh like we always did. He works a night shift at the paper and I wake at 4:30 so we often communicate via wipeboard: Me: What’s your schedule next week? Drew: TBD. Sam, sixteen, draws football players next to our notes.

More than once, Drew has mentioned the “search” he’s putting together – search for the first big job with benefits, search for the apartment and roommate he will need to afford it, search for permanence. He tells me about “leads.” What I say is, “Take your time. Stay as long as you need to.” What I mean is, “Stay as long as you can.” Because, Everything, is just right now.

These five or six years later, I know the circumstances will change overnight and he’ll be gone, and on his own again. We’ll look back on it, this gift of being together again and it will seem all too short a time. 

I will miss him when he leaves. A lot. His “space” will remain uncluttered, and I won’t be planning tacos for dinner. I’ll leave notes for Sam on the wipeboard, and he will respond not with “let you know,” or “TBD,” but by drawing characters from Southpark wherever there is space. It will all be like it was, but it won’t be like it is right now.

It would be good to know in advance the words we don’t have to bother saying. But life gives us plenty of opportunities to shut up and be grateful for being wrong. And I am grateful for this time in life that none of us saw coming, but were lucky enough to have just the same. Right now.


  1. This piece is perfect timing for me, as my son is now home for the summer doing an internship. Each time he returns from college for a visit he's little more grown up and a little more confident, and though I do admit to some anxiety about his return, so far things have been going great! Your son sounds like a wonderful young man.

  2. I think all kids make a huge "maturity" leap in those 4 years that we see best when there's a period at home. Sounds like you know already what I mean.

  3. Love how you reframe the moment (whether it's good, bad or otherwise)..."it's just right now." I need to remember that. Very wise words to live by. Thanks.

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  5. Beautifully put, Susan! We all hope our kids will get what they need once they've graduated, but I agree, having them home is lovely too.

  6. Thank you, Phoebe. I know that perspective has to be earned sometimes, but it's a great thing to give back if it helps. I don't always follow my own advice, but I use that one a lot, particularly with all the "firsts" that come with grown children: college, marriage, etc.