Friday, September 01, 2006

Twenty-Two Years; Advice to Follow

A couple of summers ago as I was walking from the mall parking lot into Saks, I encountered a woman who reminded me of myself in the not so distant past. She was trying to maneuver a stroller through the double doors and maintain some kind of grasp over three very small children. The only differences between us lay in the gender division of said children -- her twins were girls and her singleton was a boy -- and my probably visible relief to be the assistant rather than the engineer in the task of getting her entourage through the door.

Twenty-two years ago right this moment, 7:30 am, I was sitting in a putrid green hospital room not enjoying exactly the kind of birth experience I had so hoped to avoid: an IV drip with Pitocin, two fetal monitors, two surgeons, two nurses, and a labor that after twelve hours promised to go exactly nowhere, despite the rather impressive contractions every few minutes. If I recall correctly, we were at that point debating the positives and negatives of epidural anesthesia. It would be six more hours before we would be debating the merits of caesarean delivery.

The production of my boys, after 41 weeks of pregnancy, seemed challenging at the time. The management of three energetic but delightfully bright and imaginative preschoolers and elementary-aged schoolchildren, much less so -- but in retrospect, it was a demanding time of life. The years in which high school merged into college more closely resembled the Viking sagas I was reading last spring: mayhem and madness, distress and devastation.

(Ah....you see: the ruins of my mind can still rise to the tease of alliteration.)

What I find most astonishing now is that I seem to be in the position of dispensing advice and encouragement, most of it visibly unwelcome, to the three young adults who were once those towheads in strollers. They are, none of them, nearly as energetic, imaginative, or voluble as they once were. I'm trying hard to recall my own college years, but the view from here is depressing and discouraging. (Ouch! I can't seem to help myself this morning.) My husband commented a few months ago that I should try to think about how I spent my time in college. "And aren't you satisifed with how things turned out?" he continued.

Well. In a word, No.

How much I would have done differently, had I only known.

5 comments:

Cynthia said...

xsrhmHappy Birthday to the boys and to you. I love your last sentence. I've repeated the same old BS, everything I've done is what has made me who I am, so I don't regret," so many times that I came to actually believe it. When forced to take a real look at my life, there are tons of things I'd do differently. I still think I've turned out to be a damn good woman, but ...

pPB said...

Happy birthday to boys and happy anniversary of labor day to you!

Carol said...

Happy birthday to your sons. I find anniversaries of births, deaths, firsts, etc. to be great times for reflection. I usually end up feeling somewhat melancholy and finding the whole thing to be bittersweet.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to the boys! I think the hardest thing is watching our children learn through their own mistakes. If they would just listen to us, we could prevent the mistakes but they won't so we are left to observation and cleanup duties.

I found the alliteration amusing.

Lisa :-] said...

I used to SOOOO regret not going to college. But what I've realized over the years is, college is no more or less of a learning experience than anything else in our lives. It bears a lot less significance than we are tempted to ascribe to it. Are you still doing the thing for which you went to college? Give your kids a break, if you can. They will make their way, but it will take some trial and error (Listen to me, the wise old owl...LOL!)

I know this is probably hard to consider, but be thankful your kids ARE in college. They could be on drugs, pregnant and unwed, undermotivated and under-employed (like the kids who work for me...) They sound like delightful progeny to me... But, I'm sure, as their mother, you always want the best and the highest for them.

HB to your boys...