I Grew New Skin

I’m sitting at a little white Ikea table in the corner of a climbing gym, watching Charlie take part in a climbing class for kids. It’s his first ever organized sport. Ever.

I watched him amble in the line of kids across the gym to a new climbing area with his signature mosey (arms slowly swinging, a literal spring in his step–okay not literal, because he doesn’t have actual springs in his shoes, he just walks like he does), and all I could think was “look how far we have come since Charlie was a feral five-year-old consumed by anxiety and impossible to wrangle.”

He can do things in a group! He can follow instructions! And he has always been unnaturally good at climbing, so he’s in his element!

Since Jack resettled, life at our end has changed incredibly quickly and thoroughly. I continue to be amazed by the motion of our lives.

Charlie is now mainstreamed at school, with resource help. He is excited about school because he gets to ride or scoot there and see his neighborhood friends. He feels independent. He is becoming more independent. This is good for both of us. One of my Charlie fears has been that he will never quite achieve self-sufficiency, but be stuck in limbo at home, or living apart with constant managing from Jeff and me, when he desires complete independence. Seeing Charlie succeed, and yearn for more success heartens me. He tries so hard, and it’s working. His eternal nature is, like Jack’s, sunny. And determined. Curious. Unflagging. Willing.

I’m sure I will experience withdrawal once my children don’t need me all the time. But at this moment, I need to believe that I won’t always be standing beneath them, figuratively holding a net on the chance that they fall.

My baby begins kindergarten next week—a milestone I never actually thought would arrive. The years after Truman’s birth, and before Jack’s placement this spring sandblasted me. Any part of me resembling the old Megan sloughed off. I grew new skin, but not before finding myself raw and weeping as disabilities parenting peeled me away in layers.

My friend Liz recently said to me that when raising children, “zero to five lasts forever,” which summed up parenting small people, at least for jaded people like me, with an economy of words.

We then agreed that the years twelve to eighteen go by in a blink.

I look at my university students and see them not so much as grown ups but as somebody’s recent teen. They are darling and I love them already.

Motherhood did this to me.

  3 comments for “I Grew New Skin

  1. August 24, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    It’s the longest shortest time.

  2. Barb
    August 26, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    <3 this so much.

  3. August 31, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I went to a “budding” class last night… it’s one of the ways that you can graft fruit trees. It was fascinating and I now have two tiny little apple trees with two little, grafted buds each on them, waiting for a few weeks to then be planted and then survive the winter and then be chopped off right above the grafted buds and then have any rootstock buds that grow snipped off and then grow for a few more years with continual pruning and then… in five years, we might have apples!

    Why do I make this rambly comment?

    Because it’s late-ish and I’m tired.

    But also, because I was picturing the bark of the little trees I cut into last night as you described your new skin. One of the ways you can bud is to cut a T shape into the tree, then carefully peel back the bark and slide the to-be-grafted bud into the slot. Then, you press the bark back against the bud and wrap it up.

    Somehow, in a way that currently eludes me, this is a metaphor. And at this point, I’ve typed so much that I can’t tell if I’ve gone around in multiple circles or if I’ve made any point, but guess what? I’m going to post it anyway.

    Because if nothing else, then thanks for posting this so it got my thinking about grafting and metaphorically becoming new.

    Also, Charlie loving school = yes!

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