Throwback Thursday: On letting go

Every time I think I have this "letting go" thing down, it bounces right up and smacks me in the face. I've had plenty of occasions to write about my girls moving out and moving on (See here and here). In fact, daughter #3 has, just in the past week, signed up for her dorm room -- meaning we are on the official move-out-countdown. "It's okay," I tell myself. "It's good." "It's normal."

Yesterday, I was anxiously awaiting the Postwoman because I was expecting Jordan's wedding invitations. (Yes! I'm invited to my own daughter's wedding!) Actually, she's handled the ordering and addressing and stamping all from Utah, so while we have talked about these invitations ad infinitum, I had yet to see them in real life (IRL). Finally, at about 5:30, the post arrived. And it was there! A shimmering, dark green envelope just sitting in my mailbox. I grabbed it and raced inside. I opened it carefully, pulled the cards out and read each line carefully.

At the same time the television was on in the background. After reading through the invitation I swung around to see Cookie Monster, advertising the new Siri On-Demand feature. Instantly, I was reminded of an incident involving a two-year-old Jordan and Cookie Monster:

When Jordan and Madison were wee babes they were obsessed with the Sesame Street characters. They watched the show, played pretend Sesame Street, talked about Elmo endlessly. So, when I saw an advertisement that the Sesame Street characters were coming to Sea World, I decided we would put what little vacation money we could scrape together towards a trip to San Antonio. My babies needed to see Big Bird. Once in the park, we attended the scheduled Sesame Street show, wherein the larger-than-life characters danced and sang. When the show ended, I just knew Jordan would want to see the characters up close and personal. She seemed reticent about actually approaching them, so I swung her up on my hip and marched to the front of the theater. Jordan was mesmerized. I was mentally patting myself on the back for making my baby's dreams come true.

As I held her, I pointed out Big Bird. And Ernie. And Elmo. And then Cookie Monster started moving right towards us! "How lucky!" I thought. Cookie Monster approached Jordan and reached out to pat her little tummy. As those furry blue fingers met her little strawberry romper, Jordan let out a primal scream. She arched her back and almost seemed to convulse for a moment. I did my best to keep her from flailing to the ground and quickly retreated.

She was inconsolable. She cried. And sobbed. And after a good five minutes, she finally looked me in the eye and screamed out, "Cookie Monster touched me!" Her rage was part fear and part blame. How could I have allowed such a travesty to occur? For the next hour or so she inhaled raggedly, muttering to herself, "Cookie Monster touched me." Honestly, I'm surprised she didn't require some type of trauma counseling. We did hug on her a lot and promised a Cookie Monster restraining order. Over time, the "Cookie Monster touched me" mantra became somewhat of a catch phrase, reminding us of those moments when our kids needed an extra hug and some added protection.

It's difficult for me to convey here how this memory tore me open inside. Maybe it's the realization that I'm no longer in charge of making her dreams come true. Maybe it's a mourning for the loss of that sweet little baby girl. Maybe it's an understanding that I'm not her sole protector, that my role in her life is moving further and further to the periphery. I'm sure it's a combination of these factors. But it hurts.  And there's nothing for me to do about it, except to feel this uncomfortable pit in my stomach and to write about that glorious, spunky baby of mine.

Marriage questions

Yesterday's New York Times article "13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married" poses some terrific questions for couples to ask each other--either before marriage or in the midst of one. (As Robert Scuka reminds us in the article, "If you don't deal with an issue before marriage, you deal with it while you're married.") They're all great questions but here's a sampling:

  • Did your family throw plates, calmly discuss issues or silently shut down when disagreements arose?
  • What's the most you would be willing to spend on a car, a couch, shoes?
  • Can you deal with my doing things without you?
  • Do you know all the ways I say "I love you"?
  • How do you see us 10 years from now?

I would add a few more:

  • How important are holidays and gestures (gifts, birthdays, etc.) to you?
  • Are you an upholder, a questioner, or an obliger? 
  • How did your parents/family divide the household/family work? Do you expect it will be the same with us or different?
  • Will you love me like Calvin loves Alice?

Which brings me to my Throwback Thursday selection: If you're a long-time reader, you'll remember that one of my lodestar couples is Calvin and Alice Trillin, whose 35-year marriage was the subject of his love letter/elegy of a book About Alice as well as the topic of many of Calvin Trillin's essays through the years.  I'm not the only one who has a Trillin marriage crush. Calvin writes of the many condolence letters he received from readers after Alice's death:

"[I]n the weeks after she died I was touched by their letters. They might not have known her but they knew how I felt about her...I got a lot of letters like the one from a young woman in New York who wrote that she sometimes looked at her boyfriend and thought, 'But will he love me like Calvin loves Alice?'"

Original post: Like Calvin and Alice

Edited to add some more great questions suggested by readers:

How willing are you to make sacrifices for each other? How messy/tidy are you and what degree of tolerance do you have for a change in your style? How will you divide the chores, tasks, etc.? What percentage of your time do you want to be in solitude? with one other person? with groups? What activities are really important for you to do with me and which ones can we do on our own/don't need (or have to have) our spouse to do with us? How much emotion do you each attach to money and its management?  "What is money for?" 

Okay, friends, what questions would you add to the list? (And who are your lodestar couples?)

The scout binder revisited

Sarah and I had a skype meeting yesterday, catching up on life and wedding planning and re-energizing our blogging batteries. It's been almost exactly three years since we started this Nest & Launch venture and we started reminiscing on our early days. Remember how we used to post every weekday for the first year? There's a lot of content back in those archive stacks so we thought it would be fun to revisit and update some of the posts each week in a Throwback Thursday kind of way.

One of the very first posts I wrote (three years ago tomorrow, funny enough) still brings a lot of people here daily via Pinterest and various other mysterious-but-much-appreciated-pssst-pass-it-along social platforms. (Welcome, pinners!)  It was based on some some sage advice from a friend. She said, as I wrote in the original post:

"Start a Scout Binder. Now. She lamented how difficult it had been to prepare the Eagle scout application because all of the little signed badge cards and badges and earned rank cards and other sundry items had long been shuffled to the back corners of random drawers and pockets. She had no idea that they would need those again. So they had to gather it all up and, in some cases, track down old scout leaders for dates and signatures (or do some things over) to get a complete application submitted."  

Three years later, Sam's 7/8 of the way through his Eagle Project and the end is in sight. He's collected books for a women's/family shelter and built bookcases to hold them. I'm really glad we did our scout binder;  it really was a friendly, brilliant hint and it worked so well for us...

So much for organized foresight and the illusion of control! Oh well. Sometimes you put systems and prevention tactics into place and still end up with not a patch nor card in hand. Because bestlaid plans and teenage boys. And moving. Maybe there should be a merit badge for that.

But there IS an app for that if you'd like to avoid our old school quandary and add a failsafe: The Scout App. (And apparently there's no equivalent for Girl Scouts besides an app for the handbook and a girl scout cookie finder. Get on that, Girl Scouts!)