Oct 03 2007

Misery Loves Company?

Published by at 3:08 pm under Mothers & Daughters

As I try to figure out good ways to plow through these first weeks of life without Lulu in residence, I thought it might be enlightening to ask people about their own experiences:

BS (mid-fifties-ish), California

“At first it was hard but soon I was just happy to have my house to myself again. I’m just glad she’s not still living with me … and hope she doesn’t move back in!”

AR (59), California

“I shouldn’t say this — this is embarrassing — but when I got home from taking A to college, I walked in the door and collapsed on the floor sobbing.”

J at the Y (early-sixties-ish), California

“I didn’t go through that because my daughter went to community college. What was hard for me is when she got married. I lost my playmate.”

VC (93), West Virginia

“It was hard. It was good too. I don’t rightly remember. That was a long time ago.”

Mom (79), Delaware

“Frankly, each of you I missed but I thought, ‘They’re where they should be.’ I didn’t think about it any more. You can’t stop and wallow in it. When K [ed. note: third and youngest child] went to college, you and your brother were all hyped up about that new psychology ’empty nest’ stuff and you both called us the night she left … you were really worried about us. But by the time the third one was gone, we were glad. I cleared all K’s furniture out right away. It’s not a death. It’s the nature of things. It would be different if you’d been going off to prison…”

October 8 P.S. I just got a voice message from Mom in which she said, among other things: “Remember you asked about what it was like for me when you went away to college? What I said was true: I was glad that you’d gone off. But now I miss you. I want you to be here.”

Me (just a child, really), California

“I’m so glad you asked. It’s like the homesickness I was prone to as a kid: waves of dark that scare you because you can’t see out. It reminds me of West Virginia hollows in the summer: you wake up barely able to see through mist so close you’re breathing it. As the morning warms the fog thins. In early evening it comes back at you, building like dread, rising from the grass until you’re enveloped again. And then it’s night.”

Too melodramatic, you say? Welcome to my clichéd interior landscape!

I wonder if childhood homesickness predicts adult difficulty with separation.

I’m realizing that it’s more than just missing Lulu. It’s my stupid thoughts that aren’t worth the brain-room they’re printed on:

  • “Well, now you’ve gone and done it. You were supposed to grow up and get married and have children and watch them grow and have a nice little getaway in the mountains and, right about now, start enjoying your Happy Golden Years with your own beloved Mr. Right with whom you’ve blissfully shared your whole life. But no… it’s too late for all that.”
  • “You should’ve played more with Lulu. You should have paid more attention to her. You should have sung her more songs, like that woman over there is doing with her son.” Then my thoughts turn vengeful: “Well, savor every moment, Mrs. Perfect. Because before you know it he’ll be gone…”
  • “You were a terrible parent. Like those times you were driving and lost your temper. You must’ve traumatized her. Remember the day you were heading home on that winding country road outside Nevada City and some jerk practically drove you off the road? ‘You’re such a dick,’ you yelled. ‘Great driving, dick-butt! Mister Dick Butt!’ Lulu, all of three, asked, ‘Mama, who is Dick Butt?'”

One response so far

One Response to “Misery Loves Company?”

  1. mark says:

    Jeesus, Ginna, you should stop worrying so much. I have trapped a skunk here and have no idea how to get rid of it. The little varmint has to go, though. It is right outside my door in the trap. Whew! mb

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