Recently I allowed my boys to stay up later than usual to watch the series finale of the Disney program Suite Life on Deck, a program about twin boys who, for whatever reason, lived first in a luxury hotel, and then on a luxury liner. My sons had only discovered the program in recent months and had never watched religiously, but seeing as how the twin boys’, the main characters Zack and Cody, were graduating from high school with their classmates, I thought it would be fun for us all to watch. The children enjoyed the show, the popcorn, and the bonding the three of us did, but upon completion of the episode my boys became morose, melancholy, and downright sad! For the first time the children saw the end of something they loved.
Dora and Diego exist on a loop that is never-ending as does Thomas the Train and Sesame Street, but now my sons have seen young boys grow into young adults and leave their television show. All that is left are reruns; no longer will my boys see the stars continue to morph into adults. I explained that the Disney audience isn’t prepared to watch the boys go off to college; high school is the ultimate for the young viewers. My oldest wailed, “Why couldn’t they go to college on the boat?!” And it was up to me to try to explain to my eight-year-old that when high school is finished, most teenagers are ready and excited to move on to the next stage of life be it college away, working, or joining the military. He just doesn’t get it yet. My youngest son just seemed to cry because his older brother was upset and probably because, in his short four years, he has developed a keen sense of the world and knows his brother will be leaving the nest far too soon for his liking.
As a mother I wanted to reassure my boys that all is well, that what they saw was natural and a good thing to look forward to, but not to worry because they’d be living at home for a long time. The realist in me knows that the “long time” is really going to fly by at a lightening fast pace. I am torn between wanting to soothe them and feeling a rising panic to stop the clock’s relentless march. When I step back and observe from a removed perspective I organize my thoughts away from my emotions and know that endings are simply new beginnings. When those milestones occur in my house, I hope to be as prepared for them as possible.
I recall being the young woman anxious to take flight from home. I went away to college a year early. I married at twenty. Each step I forged on my own path brought joy, excitement, and a touch of uncertainty, but it was MY path and I was thrilled to be on it. I want that for my children. These years are treasures and I try to value each moment, because all too quickly I’ll be packing them off to go hither and yon. My path is in the realm of “parenthood” and it is a lovely place with some sticky, difficult areas. Eventually my children will check out to their own destinations and I’ll have to know that those endings for me are simply their new beginnings. It is a blessed cycle that makes the world turn. Like a television series, the reruns can play of home movies, but it’s best not to dwell in what was, it is much healthier for all involved to move on, stay close, and look for all the new beginnings.
The life lessons one learns as a parent are made ever more difficult because of the emotional attachment. Patience, independence, separation, evolution, and acceptance must be taught, modeled, and, oddly, accepted by the parent. Learning that endings are indeed simply beginnings is a universal moral; it embraces the fact that change happens. Applying that notion to all that happens in one’s life certainly helps get through difficult times. When death occurs, a baby is born. When a job ends, a new opportunity presents itself. When a child leaves the home after eighteen years, the parents’ role is remodeled. The cycle exists; one must be open to their specific role in the cycle at any given time. Difficult, at best, when emotions are involved, but all the more important to be a part of the ever moving cycle. Endings are simply new beginnings.