Mastering the Art of Growing Up

I had a rare night at home tonight, alone. I don’t honestly know if I’ve ever been in this house alone at night before. I’m thinking not. Eight years we’ve lived here and not one single night here, in my home, alone.

My boys are out with my husband at their Godparents’ annual Christmas party. I’ve been fighting a cold for, I don’t know, two months, and on my first day of winter vacation it finally decided to arrive. Something about the mind allowing the body to relax into itself—it’s a beautiful thing until the germs that have been haunting the doorway for weeks finally get the key to let themselves in. So tonight, I’m home. Tonight, I’m alone.

What better to do on an evening with no men in the house—most especially my house where, save me, there are only men in the house—than to watch a movie? It took me several minutes to search through options on the Wii (thank you, Netflix, for being the one saving grace about that bad boy); why couldn’t I decide what to watch?

Why? Because I had no one to consider except myself and that, my friends, is another thing I haven’t done in over eight years.

Settling for a silly romance that seemed cute, I was suddenly overcome by the need to check the list of options just one more time. Julie and Julia, I thought, I feel like I need to choose you instead.

What a delightful surprise to find this movie an utterly joyful look into the kind of love we all hope to set up camp and live in forever. The fact that it was about two strong women who felt a little lost rang true to me as well, most especially when these two capable albeit floundering women found true success, their life’s purpose if you will, in writing a book. The two hours I spent with that movie in my home with my dog on one side and my cat on the other wrapped in a soft blanket with a plate of homemade sweet potato fries was quite possibly the greatest gift I’ve given myself in a really long time.

At movie’s end I folded clothes, turned off lights, and moved upstairs to bring my sweet little evening to a close. As I sorted out piles of clothes on my boys’ beds I thought, how lucky am I to be sick and still feel so wonderful inside? I took my gratitude to the closet to hang up their school clothes and found my bliss interrupted by the annoyance of one particular shirt that refused to stay on the hanger.

I hung it up once, it fell; I picked it up with out thinking and hung it again, again it fell.

“What the hell?” I griped aloud. Again I hung it and again it fell. Exasperated by the shirt and the hanger and most especially at myself for allowing my mood to be ruined by the ridiculous notion of a shirt that wouldn’t stay on the hanger…and then, it struck me.

My son’s clothes are too big for little hangers.

He’s five, my young one, five years old and experiencing all of the greatness that five has to offer: kindergarten, soccer, kick ball with first graders (who are quite impressed, he tells me with a puffed out chest, that a guy as little as him has such a big kick.) My little Tommy with kind brown eyes and one gorgeous smile, the nutball in the holiday singing program who looked like a cherub in his white button down shirt and blue striped tie until he made such crazy faces in between songs that the audience couldn’t hold back their chuckles. My baby isn’t a baby anymore. I knew it, but maybe I didn’t want to believe it. The hangers, however, don’t have judgment about his growing up one way or the other: when the clothes are too big, they simply don’t work anymore.

And then the thought went further. I think that’s where I am, too. I’ve grown out of my job and no matter how safe I feel in the comfort that I’m doing well, each and every day I fall off the hanger. No matter how many times I try to hang myself back up the reality is it’s a practice in unending frustration because this job simply doesn’t fit me any better than the baby hangers fit Tommy’s big boy clothes. At one time it was a perfect match. No matter how much I want that still to be the case, for my baby or me, life has another plan for both of us.

It’s time to admit to myself my baby is growing up; it’s time to admit to myself that I am too.

Copyright 2011 • NicoleLusianiElliott.com • All Rights Reserved

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6 thoughts on “Mastering the Art of Growing Up

  1. Great article, Nicole! Whatever direction you end up going, I know your contribution will be positive and lasting. Love you and all your “boys.” wishing the whole fam a healthy/happy new year. Norma

  2. I love the metaphor and story about Tommy and how it relates to you. You definitely need some more nights at home alone…I think we all do at times. BTW, I loved that movie too. If I don’t see you soon, I’m wishing you and the boys a very good new year!

  3. Just read this today. How can I be “behind” when I’m retired? I remember the recent e-mail when you listed all the directions you’re going. New beginnings for sure. Exciting and a little scary. And Tommy – I’m sitting in “my” room with photos of my boys at 3 and 4 and 4 and 5 thinking about how soon they will be 48 and 49. Ah me! They’re still fun to be with, laugh with, and worry with.