This year, the holidays giveth, and the holidays taketh away.
It is not as if I invented this phenomenon; so many forms of loss take no vacations during the holiday season. People die, people leave, people fall short of expectations. And then we are stuck with those loss memories during the holidays for the rest of time.
For the Peachy household, this was the year that the recent college graduate got a job in a big city, and left the day after Christmas. Proud? Yes! Excited for him? Yes!
Heartbroken? That too. This is it. This is IT. We had settled into the “I have a kid at college” routine, where we looked forward to those extended breaks, and had a period of sadness after the return to school.
Then, after graduation, we had an extended period of transition—a lovely time, in many ways—one that would, arguably, have festered after a time into something far less desirable. But, as it was, not bad at all, especially for little brother.
I have this weird guilt about the fact that my chance to be the perfect parent has just expired. The most foolish of aspirations, haunting me. He brought a package of tempera paints over from cleaning his room at his dad’s house. I bought those paints when he was little. Clearly, we didn’t paint enough. He’ll probably bring that to therapy. Or, worse, to some future girlfriend. She’ll breezily break out a whimsical art project, and he will confide in her the insecurities born of those early non-tempera painting projects. “Even though the paint was there all the time!”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how proud and excited you are for your kid. It’s your baby and, at some level, your heart will never know how to let go. You cry. You watch sit-coms. You research gourmet food stores near their new apartment.