Monday, August 18, 2014

The Simple Life

Mrs. Blackwell's brother visited us this weekend before embarking on a new beginning in his life. 

Later this month, he'll be leaving the rural confines of Southern Illinois for the sunny splendor of San Diego. He has a couple of friends there and an apartment lined up, but that's the entirety of his support system there.  

Adventure! 

My parting gift to my brother in law — publication of the
funniest picture of him  I could find. You're welcome pal!
Also pictured: Mrs. Blackwell, radiant as always. 
And unless you're his parents (my in-laws) or his sister (my wife) you've got to be ecstatic to see him head into the unknown, ready to tackle whatever gets thrown at him. (Armed with three degrees, one in finance and two in math, including a Master's, I'm sure he'll be just fine.)

While the idea of moving to San Diego is fantastic in so many ways, if you're Mrs. Blackwell's folks it's got to be tough to see your youngest kid move as far west as possible without leaving the continental U.S.

In a very tangible way, this is a reminder of what my folks have been going through with me for the better part of a decade now. They live in North Carolina while I'm tucked up here in Wisconsin, after stops in the Caribbean and central and southern Illinois. 

This arrangement, me living thousands of miles away from my mom, my dad, my brothers, my beautiful nieces and nephew, is something I've come to accept as part of life. Missing my family is just a little pain I carry with me every day. 

Boo hoo, right? I've got plenty for which to be thankful. Life is, for the most part, good and nothing is perfect; I also carry that knowledge with me everyday too. 

But now, watching Mrs. Blackwell's brother move, I observe from a middle ground, seeing this through the eyes of both a son and a parent. 

It's a moment Mrs. Blackwell and I are a few years away from but, when the time comes and Master Blackwell wants to move on, I'm sure I'll be a mess. 

Right now he is this blond-headed little stretch of cuteness who, when I entered his room this morning greeted me by rolling over on his back, smiling and saying "Coconuts!" (I used coconut butter as a moisturizer on him before bed last night. I got him giggling by saying "COCO! Nuts!" in a voice I thought sounded like a high-pitched caveman. Naturally, he repeated after me.)

Enough digressing. 

I know these times will soon be gone. "COCO! Nuts!" will soon give way to "SOCC-ER Practice!" and "DRIVERS! Ed!" 

I have a lot to learn about being a dad and life in general but my life as a kid taught me this much — time moves faster and faster and faster. I'm going to blink my eyes, be 50+ years old and it'll be my kid packing up his car, destined for some point far away. 

Pictured: Simple.
I'll be happy that he's pursuing his life unbound. I'll be proud that he's confident enough in himself to leave his safety net behind and go for it.

And, I'll be sad. Probably how my folks were and how Mrs. Blackwell's folks are to see their  son move.

One byproduct of being a solid parent, I hope, is to raise kids who are good company, who you enjoy talking with, who are just fun to be around — and who enjoy being with you. 

My parents feel that way about my two brothers and me, and Mrs. Blackwell's folks feel that way about both their kids. In a way, it's proof that you've done something right as a parent, a validation of sorts that you're saying goodbye (for a while anyways) to your kid and your friend. 

So we've got the good and the bad, pride and sadness, lots of hope and some fear of the unknown and it's happening all at once. 

Another fact I'm learning, as a parent — things are rarely simple. 

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