Getting Real With Mary Swan-Bell

This was a year of transitions. I like transitions one at a time…every few years…at least, if that ever happened, I think I would like it. This year, my oldest daughter went to college, my youngest daughter went to kindergarten, my tween son stopped kissing me back, and a year after my father’s death, my mother moved in with us. Oh, and I quit smoking because that seemed like a good idea while everything else in my life was in complete upheaval.

And the frosting on the cake will by my 40th birthday in two weeks. Although age really does feel like just a number to me, sometimes I look at that number and think, “Really? 40?” Sure, I’d like to have more accomplishments and less cellulite, but life really is good.

If you think I’m going to give great advice about how to deal with all these changes, sorry, I’m not.

Get a prescription for nerve pills, or get black market nerve pills from a friend who has a better doctor. My doctor actually said, “Why don’t you have a glass of wine once in awhile?”

They kind of frown on that at kids’ sporting events, but thanks, Doc.

Don’t smoke.

Let’s just dive in: My daughter went to college. The thought that she will probably never live with me again full-time (until I’m old and move in with her, but then I guess technically I will live with her, see above) makes me sad. But what’s the alternative? Keep her at home? She has always had dreams bigger than our little community, so I had to release her to spread her wings and fly to reach them. We don’t skype as much as I’d envisioned. We text, tweet, fb, and instagram incessantly. She’s happy, and I’m happy she’s happy. My goal is to mold these young ones into kind, compassionate, considerate adults, and she is making a good start on her own.

I think after you move your firstborn out of the house and cry yourself into dehydration, other milestones are kind of anti-climactic for awhile. Baby girl going to Kindergarten wasn’t bad. I had kept her home for the “Should I send her or not?” year, so I felt as if I had 365 days of bonus time with her. She was ready to go, and honestly I was ready for her to go. I did feel a little stab of pain watching her little blonde curls bounce onto the bus for the first time, but then I wrote all day. And no one asked me to make them food. Or turn on a show. Or get them another piece of paper to draw on.

And that was kind of awesome.

My boy might be the hardest transition to take, probably because I look at my husband’s relationship (or lack thereof) with his mother and really don’t want to end up there. He’s 12, and he’s still loving, just on his own terms. He thinks it’s cool that he can pick me up and sometimes hugs me and picks me up. Sometimes he still crawls into a chair with me, and usually he doesn’t move when I crawl into a chair with him. He ignores the fact that I sneak into his bed a full five minutes before he has to get up, just to snuggle him. He’s not my little boy anymore, but he’s growing into a really fine young man.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, kids grow up. The other thing that happens though, is we grow up, and our parents get old. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they have to go into a nursing home. Sometimes they move in with us. My dad died, and my mom moved in with us. She is in her early 80’s and still in pretty good health. She drives, cooks, visits friends, shops and so forth. I had all sorts of ideas of what things would be like when she moved in—I moved out at 20 because she drove me crazy—but mostly it has been good. There have been a few growing pains. We’re working on boundaries, my kids are making memories with their grandma, and I am making sure that when it’s time for her to go, there’s nothing left unsaid.

So that’s where I’ve been; what have you ladies been up to??