Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding a Basement

I had a dream over the weekend.  No, actually, it wasn't a dream.  It was a nightmare.  In the dream, my husband and I were both standing in our living room.  The front door was standing open and a roaring wind was coming through the door and whirling all around us.  We could see our younger son standing next to his girlfriend on the front porch.  On beyond them, bearing down on them just a very short distance away was the biggest, blackest tornado I've ever seen.  Our other son, we knew, was also outside somewhere in the yard, but he was out of sight.


My husband was yelling, "FUNNEL CLOUD!  FUNNEL CLOUD!  FUNNEL CLOUD!"


I started yelling too, "COME IN THE HOUSE! COME IN THE HOUSE!  COME IN THE HOUSE!"


Our sons (and the girlfriend too) ignored us.  They just wouldn't listen.  My younger son and his girlfriend just stood there staring at the tornado, in awe of it, mesmerized by it, wanting to see it, be a part of it, experience it.  I didn't know if our other son could even hear our yelling.  He may have been too far away to hear us over the roar of the wind.  I knew he was outside somewhere, but I couldn't see him from where I was standing.  I knew he was in danger too.


I wanted to run out there and grab them and pull them physically into the house and herd them down to the basement where they would be safe, but it was one of those nightmares that I have occasionally when I was paralyzed.  I was unable to move and was rooted to the floor right where I was standing.


Just as the tornado was about to sweep away my son and his girlfriend (and I presume my other son, as well), I woke up.  My heart was racing, and, of course, it took a moment or two for me to realize that it had been a bad dream.


I knew almost instantly what the dream was about.  It certainly wouldn't take a rocket surgeon (huh? a what?) to figure that one out. No, I didn't need Joseph with his coat of many colors to interpret my dream or my psychologist husband to tell me what it meant.  It was immediately very clear to me what was on my mind.


Obviously, I was thinking about my sons growing up and moving out of the house and being on their own.  It was very clear to me and to my family, too, when I told them about the dream.  They were amused by my nightmare and teased me about it.  My son's girlfriend said to me, "You don't have to worry about us.  We'll be OK."


My older son, who was out of sight in my dream, is a college student.  He's away, out of my sight, where he metaphorically can't hear the good advice I am trying to give him, just like in my dream.  


My younger son and his girlfriend in my dream were still within my line of vision, on the porch, but I couldn't get to them.  All I could do was stand by and watch what would happen to them next.  So even though they were still technically "at home," there on the front porch, they were on the fringes and out of my reach.  


They were looking away from the house toward a challenge or adventure in the future, not back to the safety and comfort of our home.  That is pretty much where they are now too, looking ahead and not looking back.  Although he is only sixteen and still lives at home, my son will soon have his driver's license.  He is already making plans for when and where he will go to college and what he will study there.  His girlfriend too, is making plans.  They are making plans together for their future.  These are decisions they have to make for themselves.  It's not up to me anymore.  I no longer have a vote.


They are getting ready to "fly from the nest" even if it means doing it straight into the face of a very big and very bad storm as they were in my dream.  But then, that's how life is.  You don't get to choose the weather.  All you can do is face it and ride it out.  You take what you are given and try to make the best of it.


I know that things are just the way they are supposed to be.  I have been teaching my sons how to be on their own and independent since they were first born.  I guess no one told me that one of the hardest things about being a parent is when you have to learn how to stop being one.  Of course, I will always be their mother, and they will always be my sons, and it will be a few years yet before they are both completely independent.  There does come a time, though, when they have to work things out on their own.  No matter how much I want them to learn from my mistakes, they have to make their own mistakes.  That's just how it works.


Even though, in the face of a storm, I want to pull them in and usher them to the basement where it is safe.  It is very clear to me that that is probably not in their best interest.  We've all heard the stories of the 30 year old men who live in their mom's basement because they can't seem to figure out how to make it out in the world on their own.  They have stalled in life, unable to move forward. I don't want that to be my sons' fate.  As hard as it is for them and for me (and at this point, I think it is more difficult for me than it is for them), they need to be able to face their futures head on.


Perhaps there is still enough time that I can teach them to chase rainbows instead of tornadoes, but they're bound to come upon a storm now and again.  I don't want them to get swept up and carried away in the tornadoes of our world, being tossed around and banged up along the way, but I suppose it is inevitable, at least in part.  I just hope they can figure out how to take refuge from the storms when they come around.  I hope they learn how to keep themselves safe. I hope they can find a basement of their own when the time comes that they really need one.