Loco Parentis: The Long Goodbye

Kids. I can’t wait until they’re out on their own. I want them never to leave

Yet it’s not all good. I know from dealing with my own parents that I’m destined to become even less of a confidante to my daughter, and inevitably to morph into an obligation, an item jotted on her weekly to-do list: Call Mom. Oh, there will be flurries of closeness, near her wedding, near the births of any children she has, times when she again needs my help or money or advice. But she’s catapulted from the home parapet now, and it won’t be long before Jake’s gone, too.

What will become of me then? What will I write about? How will I spend my days?

The same way I do while Jake’s abroad and Marcy’s at college: wondering where they are, trying to picture them, imagining what they might be doing and seeing and experiencing out there without me. Hoping for the best, and the occasional postcard or call. Worrying about them. Missing them — even the sneakers, and the angst, and the crusty food on plates. We were never meant, evolutionarily, to survive for half a century or more after we launch our offspring into the wide world. Our hearts would have grown smaller if we were, and our memories less tenacious, so that we could relinquish the smell of their hair as we rocked them, and the way their fists curled tight around our fingers in sleep.