“Well you didn’t wake up this morning ’cause you didn’t go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red
The calendar on your wall is ticking the days off
This song, off the album Soul Mining by The The, goes back with me for over half my life. It came out in 1983 and is still one of my favorite songs–the lyrics, the harmonica, the ACCORDION! How could there be a great song in 1983 that has an accordion and isn’t Polish?
The song helped define my life on August 5th, 1986 when the doctor handed me my son, James. Those lyrics were running through my head thoughout a night of labor. It was a long night and the song was my anchor, even though I had no idea how much my life would surely change.
“You’ve been reading some old letters
You smile and think how much you’ve changed
All the money in the world
Couldn’t bring back those days.
I instantly grew up when I became James’ mother. It was hard and frightening and sometimes lonely and, looking back, I have no idea how I managed to do all I did as a young, single mother. It was an honor and a blur. I wonder where all those years went, as he is now 29. I know that I wouldn’t have changed anything.
“You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes,
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky.
Ten years later, another son, Charlie, was born. Into an entirely different time in my life. In those ten years, James and I moved into a very stable, successful existance which is entirely due to my husband and James’ stepfather, Dan.
When it was time for James to go to college, I was so sure I would be a wreck. My son, my anchor, was launching, leaving, going off to be who he would be. Of course there were many tears. And heartache. It’s heavy and hits when least expected, but I had someone to buffer all of that. Charlie was only eight years old. We had a lot of time to keep parenting.
“THIS IS THE DAY — Your life will surely change.
THIS IS THE DAY — Your life will surely change.
In a week, 29 years of our focused parenting will be over. Charlie is going to college in Vermont. My ten year buffer from the heaviness of my heart, my darling, the son that I somehow skipped thinking about when he would leave until it bore down upon me like a freight train, is making the leap. Dan and I will look at each other and…I have no idea what the hell we’ll do.
“You could’ve done anything — if you’d wanted
And all your friends and family think that you’re lucky.
I know so much about this. I know the language, I know that you never stop being a parent, I know they come home, I know I didn’t invent this, I know that I don’t own it, I know that life is amazing when you have kids and gets even better when they grow up.
I know how lucky we are that our kids made it to college, I know that there are so many obstacles and derailments that change everything, I know they were born capable and able, I know that we are fortunate they were able to chose college and we have the means of sending them, I know, I know, I know.
“But the side of you they’ll never see
Is when you’re left alone with the memories
That hold your life together like