Recital and post-recital mood

July 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Long Blogs | 7 Comments
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I wrote this about two weeks ago:

Last night was Chloe’s senior recital.  The final senior event!  It went stunningly well, but right now I’m so tired and low, all I can think of are the negative things.  This happens to me only occasionally these days, fortunately.  Rather than really bringing myself (and you) down, I am going to list the positive things, and see how I feel after that.

  1. She played very well.  In fact the last piece was incredibly challenging and she really nailed it!  It was exciting and expressive, even dramatic, and a wonderful end to the performance.  And this is not to say that her other pieces were any less stunning.  She has been practicing very hard and often, and it paid off (a lesson her father and I are happy she is learning!)
     
  2. People from all different parts of her life were there:  her grandmother and uncle (my mother and brother), several Irish stepdancing friends, friends from her Costa Rica tour and their parents, her present violin teacher and her family AND her past violin teacher and even her classroom teacher from grades 1 through 8, a handful of her classmates from school as well as several others from her school community, many friends from our synagogue, old family friends who knew us before Chloe was even a distant twinkle, and even a couple of friends who knew me when I was young.  It was a thrill to have them all there to honor her.

  3. She shared the evening with her sister, which made it even more special.  They opened the performance together with a duet, a flashy quintessential violin piece, and later Rachel played all three movements of a concerto.  The latter was to mark her graduation from the Suzuki books, which is really quite an accomplishment, especially for a 13-year-old.  And she played elegantly.  It was a beautiful addition to the program.

  4. I baked enough cookies.  More than enough.  So people were apparently satisfied.

  5. The weather was cool.  This was significant because with a July recital date in a church that has no air conditioning, I had been quite concerned that we would have a heat wave and someone would faint during that hour in the sanctuary.  Instead, it was actually cold when we first arrived!  After I warned everyone to dress lightly.  And though the room warmed up somewhat with all the bodies there, it was entirely comfortable.  Only a few programs were employed as fans.  And there were no emergency room visits (that I know of.)

  6. The sanctuary was actually a lovely setting for the recital.  Over the past few years, my chamber orchestra has performed almost exclusively in church sanctuaries, and I have come to appreciate what they have to offer.  This one was fairly simple, yet there was a feeling of quiet reverence.  (Or was I reading that into it because it was such a special night for us?)  And the lobby worked well as a reception hall afterward.  AND it was not too costly to rent.

 
So why am I down?  Is it letdown?  I don’t think so, though perhaps it is impossible to recognize it when you are in the thick of it.  I feel mostly relieved that it’s over.  I’m exhausted, fried, used up.  This is partly from not feeling well all week and consequently not eating enough, so I had no reserve on top of little fuel to begin with.  I was supposed to go to a concert with Chloe tonight, but I decided I just couldn’t push it one more night, and offered my ticket to my easygoing husband, who accepted.  They should be calling any minute to announce that they are on their way home. 

I know that since the recital is behind us, it means there is that much less standing between the here and now and the big C.  (Okay, I’ll spell it out:   C-O-L-L-E-G-E.  Just in case you hadn’t figured it out yet.)  We leave in six and one-half weeks.  Seven weeks from today, Dan and I will say good-by to her and begin the drive back home across several states with an empty back seat.  (Rachel is staying with a school friend and will have to say good-by three days earlier, here at home.)  No, I don’t relish the thought.  But I don’t even think that is what is bothering me.

I have this sensation of having been thrown into the washing machine and the dryer multiple times over the last year.  Tossed and cycled and rinsed and wrung out and then bounced around and around, banging in the tumbler like a lone sneaker.  I rose to it every time.  Took her on every college visit, every lesson, every audition, sat through the writing of every essay, helped edit every application and email, sent out announcements of this recital as well as every other culminating event before this, helped her pack for her Costa Rica tour and her senior trip to Germany, nursed her when she got sick, before and after both trips.  All in the line of duty.  All out of the biggest, deepest kind of love there is. 

AND NOW I HAVE TO HELP HER GET READY TO LEAVE ME?  What do I get out of that?  The answer to that question feels far from simple.  Right now all I see is that she will be gone, that I will not get to reap the pleasure and satisfaction of being with her, sharing those simple daily moments with her, hearing her laugh, watching her tackle some challenge, marveling at how she makes lemonade out of life’s lemons, etc., because she will not be here.  I will have to learn to trust that she will be okay out there in the world, even if every fiber of me is afraid she won’t be, because only I know how to take care of her.  (I do know that isn’t really true, it just feels entirely true to my hard-drive mom cells.)  I will have to learn to offer support and encouragement when she calls us, homesick or discouraged, or suffering from some miserable virus or roommate woe, even as I will be battling my own screamingly adamant desire to fly out on the next plane to be there with her.  I will have to pretend to be excited to hear about all her performances and even all her hours of practice when truthfully I will feel jealous of all the people who get to hear her.  Because I won’t get to.

If someone had told me about this part when Dan and I were trying to get pregnant, it wouldn’t have sounded very bad to me.  And I’m sure it doesn’t sound like the loving and selfless mom I think I am supposed to be.  It is amazing to me how being a mother is so often all one thing and not a bit of the other.  When my two were very young it was just plain hard to get anything done because they were so high-maintenance.  There were diapers and nursing, snacks, toys, meals, and the constant distractions that are the very nature of young children.  They needed attention almost every minute, and they demanded it in unbearably noisy, invasive ways that were impossible to ignore.  They especially wanted to be held when there was something I had to do on a deadline or in a hurry.  They needed me to mirror and guide and model for them every nuance of daily life.  It was non-stop and immense for a long time.  And then suddenly, around age 11, I fell from grace and they didn’t want kisses and hugs anymore, except on their own terms, which meant only very occasionally, and then they asked in indirect and hard-to-interpret ways.  They were distant and fresh (not it a good way) when they were around their friends.  I got the distinct feeling I was doing a lot of things wrong, but couldn’t figure out what to do differently.  It was like all the rules had changed, but I hadn’t received the memo.  A fellow mom told me, “It’s like a bank account – you have to save it all up when they are young and they worship and adore you.  When they reject you years later, you have to draw on your savings, because there’s nothing being deposited for awhile.”  It seemed funny at the time that she told it to me, but it wasn’t funny when it happened to me.

So now that we have the most deep and meaningful bond, now that we have amazing heart-to-heart talks, now that she can tell me in plain English when she wants a hug, now that she actually sometimes offers the hugs to me for my benefit, now that she is expressing gratitude for what she has been given – now that we could really cruise on the present status quo – we are instead speeding toward the edge of a cliff and there is no stopping the car.  She is going to fly. 

I am going to let her go because that is my job.  I know without question that it is the right thing to do.  And those who have gone before me tell me that there is life after the departure.  I will pretend to believe them, because it is the best option I have.

7 Comments »

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  1. Hi Carla,

    You sound…normal! Enjoy every minute. These, believe it or not, are the stuff of memories too.

    Love to you and yours,

    Rich

    • Good reminder, Rich. This will be the past very soon.

  2. My dear friend, you have been a devoted and dedicated mother for so long, putting aside your needs to address those of your children. And while Rachel will still be home for a few more years, you can see a time when they will both be off in the world, still occasionally calling and needing you to listen, talk, even fly to them and care for them. But the question that lurks beneath, with the “undertoad”, is, now, what will you do? Now how will you fill the time, the space, your heart and your mind, how will anything come close to matching that powerful connection, that exhausting and all encompassing dedication? You are approaching another transition, and who knows what lies ahead? Fear, unease, are only natural.

    • It’s funny how I always crave change until I am right in the middle of the process, and then I want out! Maybe that’s why they call it transition…

  3. Hi there: As I read your post I was struck with how many blessings you described in a short space of time. This was lovely. I’m also glad one of those was that you made enough cookies! Definitely got the washing machine analogy; right there with you! You go Carla. 🙂

  4. We are still enjoying the gingersnaps. And thank goodness it’s just laundry in the washer right now. We had a lovely evening with friends up the street, all of us laughing our heads off at some funny stories. The blessings do abound.

  5. Carla, the sweetness, loveliness and raw honesty of a mothers journey. It’s all good but in no way is it all easy. Me and my teary eyes compliment your heart and courage.


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