I am on the cusp of full-time, hard-core preparation for The Task. I have finished the pre-pre preparation packet, and commenced the pre-preparation packet. Regular full-on preparation (more a Project than a packet) begins Monday, and continues for two months.
I am currently in a state of horror at all I do not know, and am thoroughly dismayed by the Task before me. Those who know me in person, have told me, "you are so smart, you can do this, no problem." I am grateful for their assurance, but in truth, no amount of being 'smart' is going to compensate for the highly specific knowledge I need to cram into my head and regurgitate in the proper way at the right time.
I am terrified of disappointing not only myself, but all the people who have every confidence that I can surmount this challenge. I want to cry. But I do not have time for that.
I do have some hope that work of preparation will relieve some of my concern. Time will tell.
“I love you" sounds best spoken in quiet acts of kindness.
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons Herself speaks.
My recent short trip was to points northeastern-ly, to collect Offspring the Third upon the end of his first year of college. Huzzah! Congratulations, Offspring the Third, on your successful navigation of this first and ever-so-important step in life.
Though I do not mention it often, a decade ago Offspring the Third was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He has made tremendous strides -- he has learned to understand people and how they work, and in fact has a significantly better grasp on the motivations of others than I tend to do. He has actively stepped out of his comfort zone on many occasions, managed to pick himself up when things don't go according to plan, and befriended others. He has kept his kind and tender heart, despite the harshness of the world. Bravo, Offspring the Third.
It was clear when I arrived at his dorm room -- based on the level of disarray of his possessions and amount of detritus accumulated -- that he was close to the end of his patience and tolerance for the new, difficult and strange environment that is college. He went off to take his last exam, and I set to packing up. After initially feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the task, I formulated a plan, carved out some space, and managed to get things mostly in order by the time he was done with his test. We finalized, crammed everything into our respective vehicles, and after a short but peaceful night in a nearby hotel, drove the six hours home the next day.
When we arrived home, he looked more exhausted than ever. I took care of moving his bins of belongings into the corner where they will live until they can be sorted, made sure he had food, responded to his need for inclusion in mundane conversation. Eventually, he settled in, though I can see that it will still take him several days to unwind. Welcome home, my Man-Child.
It has been said to me by more than one adult man (and it is always men, never women), that life is hard and he needs to do things for himself. He needs to figure things out alone. Needs to handle things for himself. "Suck it up."
Well: yes, and no.
Yes, I know that life is hard. He managed, and quite marvelously given his unique view of the world, to navigate all kinds of complex, anxiety-inducing situations over the course of his life and especially this past freshman year, with no more than an occasional supportive conversation by phone or by text. He has figured out all kinds of things alone. Handled matters. Sucked it up when necessary. This I know, from the talks he and I have had. I am immeasurably proud.
That being said, it is not my job to remind him that life is hard and that we all must go it alone. He's aware of that -- how many times has he said to me, "Well, I knew no one else would take care of it for me, so I figured it out for myself"? More times than I can count. It makes me a little sad, even though I know that it is a bitter truth he has learned.
What is my job, is to be Haven.
Yes, he *could* pack and move all his bins of possessions alone; he could fend for himself in all matters large and small. Yet while I am here, he does not *have* to do so. As long as I am able, I will lend a hand. I will get him a beverage. I will help with the laundry. I will provide supportive words. And I will reassure him of his value and his worth as a human being on this planet. Life is hard, and if I can shine a light or ease a burden for him, I will do so, always.
I will do so, too, for his siblings as well. Children of my body, central in my heart -- this is the best I can do for you. It is my great hope that the warmth of these moments of care will carry you onward in the cold world, when you must go forth alone.
Offspring the Second is off on an exciting adventure -- two months in a different country, with a different currency and a different language. I put aside my worries about his health and safety and well-being, and hope that he has a magnificent time.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a most mild-mannered senior chihuahua. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.