Friday, April 16, 2010

The Final Countdown

When it comes to time, I doubt I am different from most other people I know. I never feel I have enough of it. I waste it more often than I care to admit out loud. And when I am experiencing a good day, the time seems to pass so quickly that the day is over in an eye-blink. No one in the annals of recorded history has ever complained about there being an insufficient number of hours in the day when trapped in the middle of a raging sh*tstorm; right? It is only the great days that pass too fast. I think that is kind of, sort of what old Albert E. was jabbering about all those years ago. Relativity in action, my friends, relativity in action.

Yesterday on her Facebook page Suzanne reported her status as "30 days to go!", which means that the countdown clock to the Graduation Mass and the Hooding Ceremony (I have no idea what the latter entails and am a bit afraid that it involves frat boys and pledge pins on uniforms) at Seton Hall to celebrate the completion of her Master's Degree has now ticked down to a reduced unit of measurement. Way back when - a year ago September - Suz measured the commitment in either years (2) or semesters (4). When she returned in September '09 she was in the singular ("one year") and when she returned in January '10 to begin the home stretch, it was the semester that served as the unit of measurement. Now? We are less than one month away from graduation. The units of measurement have been pared down essentially to their essence. We have reached "the day".

I know that we have not yet reached The Day but it is approaching fast. Now that time is measured in days - and nothing longer than days - The Day will be here before we know it. And it will past us just as fast. And once it is past us, it will represent for Margaret and me the closing of a door or, if you will, the ending of a chapter.

As a parent, when your kids are in school often times it is the particular grade they are in that serves as a ready-made reference point for you when you are trying to recount when you did a certain thing and/or went to a certain place ("Remember when Ezmerelda was in 3rd grade and we went to the Yucatan?" or "Little Biznecki was only in 5th grade when he blew his left ear off in the kiln explosion in art class"). Your child's grade in school serves as a bookmark in the story of the life of your family.

In less than one month, Margaret and I are going to lose that reference point forever. Suzanne is on the bell lap of her excellent academic adventure and while I suppose that at some point during her professional career she will be bitten by the bug to obtain a Ph.D., in thirty-one days she will no longer be a full-time student. For the first time in the lifetime of our little family unit, Margaret and I will not be the parents of a student.

Candidly, it is a bit of an odd feeling. On the one hand, I will feel much less guilt extracting rent from her in July than I did in January since she will have a full-time, big girl job and will not have to repeatedly sell her own blood plasma just to cover her monthly nut. (Before anyone starts cursing me aloud, please know I am kidding about the whole rent thing. At least Suz hopes I am kidding.) But on the other hand, there is a part of me that has always liked having "a kid in school". For some reason, having a child in school always made me feel hipper as if Margaret and me are still invited to hang at the cool kids' table because we - like they - know the struggle. Not any longer.

My two "kids" have not been children for quite some time. But at least while each was still doing the "school" thing, we have had them around. Once they get out into the adult world all bets are off. One day your son is a college student living up the block from Madison Square Garden and the next day he is beginning a career he loves a whole lot of states, two time zones and almost two thousand miles away from you. If school does not serve as an anchor, then it is at least a type of tether cord for us parents. Regardless of how much slack is in the line and how high our kids soar, one end of it remains affixed securely to home base.

In a bit less than a month the Missus and me shall move forward sans tether cord. Being a parent can be a hell of a dilemma at times. You root for your kids to reach dizzying heights. It would be perfect if they could do it in the skies right above your backyard. But that is not how life works; right? Somewhere, someplace time is always being counted down.


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