Sunday, August 30, 2009
Motherhood First - Izzy's on Her Way.
Izzy saying goodbye to friends before she leaves for Madrid. This girl is ALWAYS on the phone.
Last minute adjustments.
Into the car.
On her way to Newark...and beyond.
I've spent the last 5 days here in NYC with my 20-year old daughter, Isabelle, who was in transit to Madrid for a year. Yes, a year. A couple of years ago, I wrote about the drama of helping her find her college "home" - she settled on UW - Madison. It was about my own recognition that "Motherhood" was my default setting - that it trumped everything else in my life, including - maybe, especially, work. And here we are again, two and 1/2 years later as she now heads to Europe for the first time in her life. She is the sun. I am a lowly planet.
Even at 20, when she asks if we can get croissants from EAT for breakfast at 9:00 a.m., I slide into my flip flops, manage my way down the 4 flights of stairs, pad down 81st Street, across Madison, take a left for 1/2 block, then pluck the perkiest, most under-baked fresh croissant from the bin, then retrace our steps and, once home, pop it in the oven to melt the butter tucked within the flaky pastry. It is absolutely divine with the fresh cappucino I have made. I would not be eating it if not for her because I would be too lazy to get it for myself. If only I had some apricot jam.
Every morning for five days, she awakened on our daybed, asking, "What are we going to do today?" I know. This is New York. I am your mother, host, and slave. I am thinking we will pick up the house, go to a yoga class, do our shopping for the day, answer some emails and put out fires related to work, maybe take a nap, then prepare dinner. This is not what she has in mind.
So we go to the MOMA - it is good - and I am grateful that she pushes me. We run her errands, shop for shoes for Spain (is this a good idea since Spain is the world's epicenter for leather goods?) We have our nails done, shop for mascara, a laundry bag, a permanent marker for her clothing, and a coin purse. (No Barney's on this week's schedule. Even though Izzy told me about the clearance sale, I still imagined that a pair of shoes might cost the equivalent of 1/2 month's rent.) On her last night we hunted down the perfect "cheap Mexican" meal (her words) in SoHo - a "hole in the wall" down a few steps off Elizabeth Street. We found it while wandering after our first and recommended choice didn't pan out. A pitcher of Margaritas, a little ceviche, chips and homemade pico de gallo. It was what Lee calls "present time magic."
Then, today comes and she packs and leaves. Indeed, as William Blake has told us, "Joy and Woe are woven fine, a clothing for the soul divine." I feel both joy and woe at her leaving. I am thrilled for her. She will never be the same again. Living in Spain for a year at 20 years old will change her forever. (Spending a month in Italy at 53 changed me forever!) And, I will miss her - I will miss talking to her every few days like I did when she was in Madison, just a casual catching up as she walked home from her last class on a Friday.
But, to be honest, after she had left and I had dried my tears, I "high fived" Lee. We are empty-nesters again. It is a magnificent time of life. All those years of mothering - the nursing, the nurture, the feeding, the tending, left little time for the self. And as it should be. But, now it is time for the Self. We love this time of life and love (and are terrified by the fact) that anything is possible. There are no excuses anymore.
But until I hear she is safe in Madrid, I am a mother first.