THE PARENT FILES: Home again, but our son is not here anymore.
I vividly remember my son’s birth because it marked the end of my life.
Before the moment my wife delivered him into my hands, I was a Master of the Universe. And then I found myself looking down at this little thing, unfinished, barely begun, and realized that, despite all I was, all I had done, all I had seen, I was nevertheless no longer the main character in my own story. Something bigger had pushed me aside effortlessly, without any regard for who or what I was.
I was unprepared. My hubris guaranteed that. But it didn’t matter. None of it mattered.
In a nanosecond I became a parent – and everything changed.
I changed. I had to. I was responsible for shaping a new life. If I didn’t love my wife before that, I loved and adored her then. I realized that I was not the kind of man I wanted my son to be, and that meant I needed to become something different. I became a good citizen, a good husband and – I hoped – a good father. I tried to model patience, temperance and prudence I did not possess. I tried to be a better man because I wanted my son to be a better man than me.
19 years came and went, so fast. Dear Lord, so fast. Two days ago, my wife and I left our son in Montana after moving him into his dorm room, and we drove away back to California. Once again, life as I know it has ended. And I am sad. I miss my son, my only child. My wife misses him more, which I do not resent. I’ve heard about the “empty nest” syndrome, but never imagined it would feel so awful. I am still a parent, of course (that will never change) but my son no longer lives with us, and, if all goes well, he will never live with us again. He may visit, and I hope his visits are long, but he will never live here again.
I did my best, but was it good enough? I don’t know. And that bothers me.