As I have illustrated here before, I tend to fall on the "overly attached" end of the parenting spectrum. This is most likely due to a combination of factors, including inborn temperament, traumatic early losses, and Ben's status as a "miracle baby," a healthy and thriving child after a series of spontaneous abortions spanning more than 20 years. Adding to the mix is the fact that he has been an amazing baby, child and now young adult whom anyone with any sense would want to spend all their time around.
So you can see why I needed to take precautions against interfering with the natural processes of separation and individuation. I had acted and sung before he was born, and I went back to these pursuits in preparation for his departure for college. Soon after, I discovered improv, and then musical improv, and I have been riding those waves ever since.
In the meantime, Ben was developing his own gifts in music and science. He initially thought to attend a private college in another state where both of these vocations could be nurtured, and Bill and I braced ourselves for both the separation and the prohibitive tuition, which would make travel back and forth difficult and family vacations impossible.
When his mentor steered him instead toward a public university that offers an excellent combined program in music and audio engineering, and that is in within commuting distance from home, I was both relieved and concerned that I would continue to hover over him in unhelpful ways. I have thus stepped up my extracurricular involvement and made a strong effort to treat him as a (beloved) apartment mate rather than as a child.
So far it has worked out pretty well. He is thriving both academically and socially. He spends most of his non-school time collaborating or jamming with friends, attending concerts, doing tech for live shows and arranging/accompanying/recording and editing albums for emerging recording artists, and probably other doing things I'm better off not knowing about, but I spend at least a little time with him each day, and occasionally we are both free at the same time and have dinner together.
But I regressed a bit over the holiday break, when he was home much more often, and especially during our faux-snowpocalypse. I hadn't realized how accustomed I had become to spending casual time with him until he returned to classes last week.
We are fine. I'm doing a lot of performing and seeing good friends. We stay in touch through texts and send each other silly pictures and stories. He is conscientious about letting us know when he will be home late, or not at all, so I don't worry the way I used to when he was a forgetful adolescent. I think I'm handling it all pretty well.
But I have been having dreams lately that he is still a child, holding my hand when we cross the street, sitting in my lap while I read to him, spontaneously covering me in hugs and kisses. I wonder if that ache ever goes away.
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