Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Standing In: I saw this moment coming

27MoylanWeb

I saw it coming. The day the dollhouse moved out to be replaced with wall-to-wall and ceiling posters. The day the Beanie Babies found a new home in my closet. The day the posters came down to be replaced with framed photographs.

I saw it coming. But I wasn’t fully prepared.

I was late to parenting. She was born when I was 39; he was born when I was 40. I spent a lot of my early years dreaming of being a parent — naming and re-naming children decades before they were born. Thinking maybe eight, then six, then four; then, after two miscarriages, deciding two would be great. Two would be perfect!

No one ever said that parenting was about loss, about saying goodbye. Or maybe they said it, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. The saying goodbye starts so early — when you no longer have the sweet-smelling newborn with wrinkled skin, when you pack away the baby clothes, when the child no longer crawls into your bed in the morning, when you are no longer needed or wanted for help with homework — and you never know it’s the last time … until it is over.

But this was different. I saw it coming. High school. Senior year. Applying for college. Getting accepted. Summer. Then it was time to go.

We packed the car with jeans, new pillows, framed artwork from ComicCon, a shiny new kettle and a string of white paper lanterns. We drove past fields and orchards in the valley, listened to Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford & Sons, many others; drove through the entire 109-song play list, got a speeding ticket in Bakersfield (mine — teachable moment), went through a rainstorm in the desert, and, descending the mountains, we got there.

We busied ourselves unloading the car, meeting the roommate, finding things on campus, buying last-minute items: extension cords, tissue, tea bags, a crate for filing school work, snacks. When it was time to leave for the drive back without her, no tears were shed. This is the perfect school for her, I said. She couldn’t be in a better place, I said.

That part I was prepared for.

Then I woke up in a house where she is still so present. I went in to clean up her room. I removed the sheets where she had slept. I picked up small bits of cardboard from where she had unpacked new items before loading them in the car. I emptied her trash. I touched the life she was leaving behind. For a brief moment, I touched the past.

At the kitchen table I read the newspaper, thoughtlessly setting aside the comics for her. I went to pick up bagels and got excited that pumpkin is already in, but she is not here to be excited with me or to enjoy the seasonal flavor we love. I notice in the paper that Chalk-it-Up is returning — maybe she’d like to go again this year — oh, she won’t be here. So this is the new life.

I am surprised by all the fleeting thoughts that have to be corrected — she’ll be coming in to say good morning, she’ll need the water hot for tea, she’ll be here to walk the dogs and so on. And yet I celebrate. I celebrate that there were teachers who cared and who touched her life and who helped prepare her for this day. I celebrate that there were friends along the way who shared special moments of childhood with her.

I celebrate that the college admissions committee saw in her application someone they wanted. I celebrate that she felt strong and ready to take this leap — to leave her town, her family, and most of all, her pets. The pets who were there when no one else could ease the pain, when no one else could ease the sorrow, when no one else understood. The pets who made life more fun, who put a smile on her face, who cuddled long after mom and dad could not.

So this is parenting. A million goodbyes partnered with a million new discoveries. Growing together partnered with growing apart. Finding our way through each new transition. Redefining our roles. Thankful for our years together. Realizing how much I have learned from getting to be her mom. Thankful that this type of goodbye is not forever.

And in this moment of celebration and gratitude, I wish there were some comfort I could offer to the parents whose goodbyes have been forever, and to the children whose parents did not live to see this day. My awareness of their reality softens my day, helps me embrace the moment, reminds me that life itself is fleeting, fragile and precious. And so it goes.

— J. Ann Moylan is a Davis resident and a professor of family and consumer sciences at Sacramento State.

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 10 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Karen LevySeptember 27, 2013 - 8:39 am

    Lovely. Painfully lovely.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JAKSeptember 27, 2013 - 9:24 am

    Tears

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Michael Ann RileySeptember 27, 2013 - 4:37 pm

    Beautifully written, Ann. I have a huge lump in my throat though....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Kristina McNarySeptember 27, 2013 - 6:10 pm

    Wonderfully written and though my daughter has a few more years to go before she leaves us, your story struck a chord and resonated with me.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Alice BelenisSeptember 27, 2013 - 6:57 pm

    Weren't we just looking down at their little paint-covered hands and faces? Ann, thanks for writing so beautifully about the feelings so many of us share.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Elisa StoneSeptember 28, 2013 - 9:03 am

    Oh Ann, this was just lovely. Go K! You and M. and B. are in our hearts.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • David ClarkeSeptember 28, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    Nice work Ann.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CeciliaSeptember 28, 2013 - 6:19 pm

    Ann, My daughter is only in pre-school, but I found myself holding back tears as I read your beautiful article thinking about when "the day" will arrive. Unlike you, I know I will not be so brave and instead will be a complete mess of mom tears. I too became a mom later in life and have enjoyed every single moment. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey! I wish the best to your daughter.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MegSeptember 29, 2013 - 6:46 pm

    Thanks for putting into words many of my feelings, Ann. I was dry-eyed until that last paragraph...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AllisonOctober 06, 2013 - 4:38 pm

    Your words resonated with me when I first read this. I set it aside & picked it up again today to cut out and save. My daughter is 9 yrs. and I have been aware of the "lasts" we've encountered so far, and ponder about the future "lasts". It can take my breath away thinking about it. I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Thank you!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

 
4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6