Family, Parenting, poetry, Transition, Travel, Uncategorized

Adventure in Transition

Zion ahead
Zion ahead

The frenzy of doing often keeps my emotions out of reach, until the doing stops. Action keeps the feelings sidelined, pushed aside so I can go on without dissolving into a blubbering mess. Such is the activity of the last few days.

The preparation to move the property of two young adults and a cat, across two states, California to Colorado, was an adventure. We drove my son’s small SUV with a jammed packed U-Haul from our city at sea level past Las Vegas and up through the mountains of Utah.

It was difficult paying attention to the drive itself when my eyes wanted to take in the creamy sandstone rock formations around me. With each 1,000 feet we climbed the more lovely the mountains loomed ahead. We made it to Springdale, the town right outside Zion National Park. Zion, place of sanctuary, proved its rightful name.

The park was a wonderous distraction from driving and feeling the emotions about the move. A shuttle bus across the motel took us to the park, where we boarded a larger open air shuttle that took us to several sights, a hop on and hop off scenic trip through the park to view high monoliths of rock.  An impressive monolith, rising more than 2400 feet above the canyon floor, is the Great White Throne.

The next morning, with a full moon descending, we are on the road again through steeper mountain passes. At 7,000 feet and climbing, in 90 degree weather, the car overheated. A green sign on the road next to us said 58 miles to the next town (Grand Junction, CO).

Moon over Zion
Moon over Zion

My boyfriend knew what to do: turn off the air conditioner, let the car cool down for 30 minutes, check the engine, check fluid and oil levels. Everything seemed okay, and off we went again. At Grand Junction, we put in transmission oil, checked fluids again, ate an early dinner, and began driving again. I had to pay attention to the climbing altitude which was very difficult with the oxblood colored rocks, dotted with pine and colored blonde with Aspen trees.The moon rose as we climbed.

Nighttime driving is hard, doubly when it’s up a mountain. I drove through Vail, at 10, 800 feet in the dark, with road repair work every few miles, through winding roads of descents and ascents, checking in the rear view mirror to make sure the trailer didn’t sway. Like a pilot, I had to scan the car dashboard, checking on the engine temperature while paying attention to road signs that notified us of “careful wildlife ahead for 12 miles.”

“Sorry, daughter, if a deer jumps in front of this car it’s her or me. I won’t swerve.”

“Maaa-ooom, don’t say that,” she said.

After two hours of heightened alert, we see the twinkling lights of Denver spread before us. After a month, I got to see my son again. Hugs and kisses, not just from us but from his cat, who very uncat -like jumped and cuddled into his arms.

The next morning we went to the apartment leasing office to sign papers and get the apartment keys. While unpacking boxes, I think how long a year lease is and whether the kids will find jobs soon. I watch as my daughter sets up her household. Box by box, she removes framed family photos and covers the fireplace mantel with memories, images that will keep her family near. No mistake, this apartment is her place now. I finish washing her collection of cat mugs and then sit in a camping chair for a break.

“Mom, does this look good here…what do you think about this shelf here?”

She jots down missing items, can I ship these forgotten items to her? Space fills, blank walls burst with color. I feel on the verge of tears, a little numb, try to breathe. They’ll be all right, they’ll make their way, they’re smart. I look out the sliding glass doors to the balcony. Pine trees tower way past the third floor of their apartment. I’m reminded that this is the first day of fall. Seems appropriate.

I began to pray for my kids, to be safe, protected from evil. I talk to them about working together when it comes to the bills, rent, groceries, and household chores. To trust and rely on each other, and for my daughter not to be my sons mom but remember that they are two young adults living an independent life. I remind myself of these things too.

They’ll be here, I’ll be in California, two states between us. I think of letting go of what was the semi predictable to unpredictable, no control over their lives. I hope they will call me to help in important decisions, just to ask for my advice. That will help me through this time.

We hug. Boyfriend and I walk down the stairs, away from them. My mind floats to words, to make a poem. I scribble on paper, while tears seep onto my cheeks.

Little fingers,

small palms,

children’s eyes that look up.


Letting go

of hearing their laughter

every day,

their voices,

the parts of me.


How do you let go?

finger by finger,

loosening palms,

meeting their eyes as adults.


Another deep breath,

instills a knowing

they will be on an adventure,

making memories,



Making their own way,




Fingers slip away,

let go,

and wave goodbye.

Family, Parenting

Loss, Transitions, and Parenthood

Letting go of the small hand of your four year old as she walks into preschool tugs at the heart. It’s just the beginning of many more first days and first steps until your child moves out of your home to make their own way in a sometimes scary world-wIthout you. This is parenting.

During August and September millions of parents felt the pull on their heart while they watched their child go out on their own, for a few hours or a few years. Such is the time that I am in, with not one but two young adult kids. Last month my son (MS) left out of state for college and tomorrow my daughter (MD) leaves to join him. We’re taking an 18 hour two day road trip, pulling a U-Haul, with their belongings and MS’s cat, Kiki.

For two weeks, we’ve been in a flurry of cardboard boxes, labels, garage sales, and finding a home for my daughter’s pet, Pika, a chinchilla. An adorable pet that looks like a stuffed animal.
Pika the Chinchilla and Yoda

MD has lived in her room for 16 years, with her collection of Blink 182 posters, Kat Von D, Stanley Kubrick, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe posters on three different colored walls and her ceiling. Her collection of cassette tapes, 45’s, and LP’s fill crates. Photos from her childhood, of her friends, family, and pets are lovingly tucked away. She packed eight large boxes and several ‘space’ vacuum bags. MS took his backpack, skateboard and two suitcases. He left his bed, desk and cat.

There is a melancholy about all this activity, these changes in the last three months. My mother has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren who moved and are moving away. My brother’s oldest daughter moved away with his only grandchild, and my sister moved back to our hometown, her adult children and grandkids hours away.  All of us are experiencing loss and transition. This is part of parenting too.

Packing moving boxes is an experience in family history. MD’s 15 year old Minnie Mouse pillow, Snow White sheets, and her 10 year old heart quilt all go into the box. Every time we put a photo into the treasure box, I feel that photograph and remember details of MD’s or MS’s life when they were in that snapshot of time. I remember when they called me “mommy,” then “mom,” and “mahooom.” (I had to pause for some sniffles).

We have a ritual. When MS’s or MD walk in the front door they shout, “I’m home,” and whoever is home shouts out “I’m in the bedroom,” or wherever they might be at the moment. I’ll miss those shouts from MS and MD.

We have coffee every morning, usually I make the pot, but sometimes MS or MD would make it and we’d all grab our favorite cups. MS invariably grabbed the closest cup, and the bickering began when it was one of MD’s special collection Star Wars or cat cup. I’ll miss that too. The mystery of “who ate the last granola bar, muffin, toast….I was saving it,” will now be solved because it’s down to three choices: me, my other son, or our dog.

For the longest time, I’ve been a single parent. My home filled with a flurry of two sons, my daughter, a dog, cat, and chinchilla, their friends, and their cousins. Each school year, birthday, graduation, and job took them closer and closer to building their own life. So close now that the boxes are taped shut, labeled, and moved into the living room for the U-Haul that we pick up in a couple of hours. So close that I want to hold on to my children’s hands tighter, at least for a few more seconds before they are off in their own apartment, in another state, 18 hours away, on their own adventure, with their own life to live.