Sunday, July 30, 2017

A thing I learned in July about love

Here is a picture of how July spells its name
at the end of the month when it
doesn't feel confident.
It is the end of July, the 30th to be exact, which makes it the pond part of the year.  We've had the river of early and mid summer, and soon,  August, which is fifteen minutes long, will spill into the ocean of fall and all.

I feel sorry for this little end of July. It doesn't have the sizzle of the early summer or the cozy of fall. Because, well, look: 
  • A lot of vacations are over.
  • Staples is moving its back-to-school stuff up front.
  • People are grilling, but are kind of running out of ideas.
  • Summer camps will start soon, the appetizer before the school year for busy parents. 
The last week of July is like the late party-goer who put the wrong address in the GPS, or the one who comes a half hour early by accident. It's the kid who's too old to trick or treat, but too young to be a teen who's too old to trick or treat. It's a window between outside and inside, warm and cold.

In a way it's like February, the other month that sits between holiday fun on one side and languid beauty on the other like a hangover trying to wear off.

And yet, July has done me right.

In honor of people getting ready to send their kids all over the country in a month, and who are experiencing a kaleidoscope of thoughts about that, I'll share the gift that July handed me as it was getting ready to leave. 

A few months ago, our daughter and her boyfriend, who live in Boston,  told us that before the end of the year, they would probably move to the West Coast. 

The news did not come as a surprise.  We knew she was restless and tired of spending her morning commute underground. We knew that her boyfriend wanted to go back to his West Coast roots, and that both the climate and his lovely family had turned her head.

I didn't, you know, think it would be this soon, but okay.

We are close, we see each every few weeks for coffee or brunch or shopping. We're  similar. We pretty much agree on everything.  I'll miss having her so close.

I hugged and congratulated them for reaching and acting on this great decision. I asked questions about the job outlook and where they thought they might live, and how his father reacted to being told his son would be near again.

"Oh, he's happy," said the man who has put the young girl back in my daughter's smile.    

They want this, and more than anything else, instead of anything else, I want this, too. 

I have been reminded of a nice truth these last four weeks and it is this: every time my own children have seized a chance to grow - a departure for college, a departure for the other coast - I grow with them.  

Our relationships are more rewarding today than at any other time because over and over, I am being shown that remaining close depends on my growth as a person more than my presence as a parent.  

They have taught me that closeness to an individual does not end with what you have in common, but in the willingness to discover, explore, and embrace your differences.


More than once, our kids have made me examine my heart and change it, close my mouth and accept what I can't relate to, discuss new truths, question wrong assumptions, update my views.

None of that had anything to do with how far I have to travel to share brunch with them.  

With July came a renewed understanding of what I learned the day our first child left for college and started becoming the adult I would meet next. It is this:

Love, like life itself, means being willing to let go of the known and turn to the great unknown, where lies the chance for sublime growth that cannot happen any other way.    

July has done me right.  So thank you, July. 

August, best of luck.

College parents, Godspeed. 

Love, Susan


  1. This is very deep and something I need constant reminding of - so I've bookmarked this post.

  2. Gigi, thank you. This post seems to have resonated most with people who know the relationships we have with our kids don't ever end, but always change the way we allow them to.

  3. Love this! My oldest got married in June and he lives away! So much of what you said hit home with me! We have to give our kids roots and wings...and I think they give the same to us parents!

  4. Thank you, Stephanie! It's nice to see it that put way, that they give back. Yes, they do.

    Best of luck to your son!

  5. I'm surprised my son (in his late 20's)ever stayed in this area. One day, I suspect, he will move away. I will need to remember what you said. I wouldn't have thought of it as an opportunity for growth.