On the other side of what we’ll never know

Today is my last post for the week. I’ll be back on Monday as usual, but in the meantime, I have a very important event to attend on Saturday. My son Gavin will be graduating from high school. Those are words I wasn’t quite sure I’d ever get to write.

It marks an ending, and a beginning. I remember when Heather, my oldest, graduated. It really was “A Big Thing.” I had no idea what to expect. Would we remain close?  How would she do in college? Was dance really the right path for her?  As I recently said to a friend whose first-born is graduating this year, it is hard to be sad, excited and scared all at once. I broke down many times, always in the shower, and tried very hard not to show my feelings. I figured she was having a hard enough time adjusting without the added pressure of mom’s emotions added to the mix.

Oddly, Heather’s graduation, and now Gavin’s graduation, mark the beginning and end of the Paper Gods album cycle. As the soundtrack of my life continues to be written, I think it’s kind of poetic that I will always equate Paper Gods with the graduations of my two oldest children. Even the album itself—lyrics and all—work well with this part of my life. I don’t know how Duran Duran does it, but they did it again. I’ll never think about this time of my life, with its endings and beginnings, without thinking about Paper Gods.

Gavin’s graduation, on the other hand, is weird for me. I thought I would be far more emotional than I am. I’m excited for Gavin to start college. He needs the challenge, and I have no doubt that Astrophysics will provide! I will miss him at home, but I am also ready to stop being his teacher. Honestly, I think he was ready for me to stop being his teacher about two years ago, but we survived! That said, when I think about just how far this kid has come since seventh grade when he looked me in the eye and told me, with all the seriousness that a twelve-year-old can muster, that he didn’t see the point of school because he was going to be a YouTube star, and by the way I’m failing out of school anyway….well, it’s been a long road with many crying sessions in the shower. I’m incredibly proud, and not just of Gavin. I’m proud of myself. Heather was my first baby and I learned how to be a mom with her. Gavin was my second, he was a challenge from day one, and he taught me how to advocate for my child. I’m so grateful.

Homeschooling has been one adventure after another, and I will never regret a single day. Gavin went from working very hard to fail out of school, to wanting to become a research physicist. Despite being told by more than one of my in-laws that I wasn’t smart enough to teach him—I did it anyway. My kid is not only going to college, but a UC school. I am ridiculously proud of Gavin. He learned to use his Autism as a tool and turn it into a positive. Sometimes, defiance is a wonderful source of energy. I embrace it.

Duran Duran is similar in many respects. To begin with, this day marks a couple of notable anniversaries in their world. It’s the date that the first album was released in 1981. (thirty-six years ago, but who’s counting??) Critics called them a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder, and just about anything else they could think of.  Duran Duran didn’t shrink into the night because the critics couldn’t pull their heads out – they defiantly continued. Do they still have something to prove? Not in my mind, but I get the motivation. I live it every single day. If that weren’t enough, just two years ago, Pressure-Off, the lead single off of Paper Gods, was also released on this date. The full album came out a few months later, and what did that album do?  It soared to the top ten. So much for being a flash in the pan, right?

I don’t really know what will come next for my family. I’ve always halfway joked and expected that when the right opportunity came up, that Gavin would move far away and we’d get the occasional postcard. This is not a child who is going to stick close to home out of affection or loyalty – it’s not who he is.  It is very hard to stand back and let your child fly from the nest without knowing what will happen, particularly when you’ve spent the majority of his life front-loading him for even the smallest changes in schedule. I am not living his life for him though, he’s got to live his own. I have to let him go, and I will. I would imagine Duran Duran feels the same way when they release an album. You put all of this time and energy into something, and when it’s done and needs released, it’s no longer yours. They tour with it, show it around, and then it’s done.

I feel the same with my kids. Things don’t stay the same after they graduate. Yes, we all get together sometimes – but not nearly as often as we did when they were little. Nowadays Heather is in her own apartment, and is home here occasionally for dinner. (Free food brings them home every time!) I treasure the nights when everyone is home and we play board games or cards and laugh a lot. I can’t really look back with sadness at the loss of their childhood, though, so I don’t. I adjust to what is new, and embrace what comes next.

In the meantime though, I might just spend a little more time listening to Paper Gods, and sneaking in an extra shower or two before Saturday.

-R

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