Ready, set, launch! Graduation hails accomplishment and transition

Well, we hit another milestone. Last weekend, we finished up the last of the college graduation festivities. For the first time in a couple of decades, we have no kids in school. We have no college tuition payments to make.

As many of you probably already know, this is big. Huge. In many ways.

As I reflect on what this means, sure, I see home projects and travel we can now do because we might have a little extra cash. It’s also been a fun trip down memory lane. But mostly, I see a transition to a new stage of life. We will never be as involved in our kids’ lives. They’ll have so many new experiences that won’t involve us. Meet so many new people that we may never know. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now that feels a little strange.

mortarboards

There’s also a sense of accomplishment. Yay! We managed to keep them alive to “adulthood.” The oldest, who just graduated with her master’s degree, is already pretty self-sufficient. The youngest is now a young man also on his way to being self-sufficient. We’re so proud of both of them. Proud to be launching decent, functional, intelligent contributing people into the world.

I suppose the other emotion is relief. As the mom, of course I’ll still worry about them, but it feels different now. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Maybe I can relax a tiny bit and enjoy watching their progress from a little more distance. I can’t wait to see how the next couple of years unfold – where life takes them. And me.

So far, I have no big plans other than to buckle down and get some writing done, launch a few more books into the world. Maybe a trip or two. I think we’ll take some time to ease into this transition, and let things settle. And then . . .

Well, who knows? We’ll toss our mortarboard in the air and see where it lands. 🙂

As always, time marches on. Enjoy the ride!

Darlene

Happy Father’s Day to a fave fictional dad

Matt Dalton hasn’t celebrated Father’s Day in 16 years. That’s because for 16 years he didn’t know he was a father. Imagine his surprise when he’s suddenly called in as reinforcement in a traumatic situation.

Parenting is hard enough under normal circumstances, right? And teens? Whoa, pour me a drink. How about a hostile teen who doesn’t even know you?

Well, Matt Dalton steps up to the plate. And does a pretty fine job of it. It’s not easy, but with patience and baby steps, he manages to earn his son’s trust.

In a heartwarming tale that’s part coming-of-age and a little romance, father and son maneuver through tough times to forge a bond that strengthens them both.

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverUnexpected Legacy, a compelling story of bravery, compromise and resilience:

Matt Dalton’s world is spinning off its axis. Without warning, he’s thrown into the world of parenting a teenager. Matt meets his son for the first time when the sixteen-year-old is dealing with the consequences of a tragic car accident. Not only has Brady lost his best friend, he faces disability and scars both physical and emotional.

Determined to do whatever it takes to give his son a second chance, Matt looks to his alma mater to step up and help Brady regain his athletic abilities and sense of self. But sparks fly when he meets the high school principal, the captivating Kate Austen. Kate is ready to take Brady under her wing, but to her that means helping him refocus and find a new passion – using his brains rather than his brawn. Kate fully expects the younger Dalton to come with issues and challenges . . . his father may prove to be the biggest one of all.

Though the chemistry is hard to ignore, Kate fights to keep her personal feelings and professional life separate. At the same time, Matt struggles to gain his son’s trust, and Brady must face the road to recovery and find a way to accept the changes in his life.

Click here to learn more

Do you have a favorite fictional dad?

Feeling the love

P1030093Over the weekend I had the joy of celebrating my son’s 19th birthday. Today, I’m taking dinner to the family of a two-year-old boy who’s battling leukemia. It’s a hard thing to get my head around. And I’m feeling so many emotions – most of all I’m so grateful for a strong, healthy kid. I’m also grateful for the love, kindness and encouragement that little boy’s mom showered on my son thirteen years ago. You see, she was my son’s first grade teacher.
I imagine everyone remembers, and hopefully loved, their first grade teacher. I remember mine with fondness. First grade was the first year my son was away from me all day five days a week. Kindergarten was a half day, and preschool was only three days a week. This was a kid who I had to pry off of my legs when he was in preschool. He’d cling and cry for me not to leave him. This, of course, was traumatic for both of us.
So first grade was significant. And having a fun, caring teacher who connected and bonded with my son was a huge relief. He had a great year, and we’ve remained friends with this special teacher. Now she has a son of her own. I can only imagine the fear and sadness she’s feeling as her precious boy undergoes painful, unpleasant procedures, in and out of the hospital, being poked and examined. Such hard things for a mom to watch.
I want to help, but there is so little I can do. So I offer small gestures and acts of kindness, and big prayers for healing for this adorable kid who always has a smile on his face, and is so very loved and cherished by his family.

Darlene

Fund Tyler

I have a grown-up

holding EToday’s a funny day – a day of memories and a few mind-boggling gulps. Thirty-two years of marriage, and a kid twenty-four years old. Same day, eight years apart.

Of course it happens to everyone who has kids, that how-did-this-happen, where-did-the-time-go kind of awe mixed with sadness and maybe a little panic.
Wow. My daughter is 24, a double dozen years. The panic, of course, is what it means in terms of my years, not hers!

I think back on the first twelve years, and it’s astonishing how many things happened during that time – from learning to talk and walk to starting school right up to the brink of adolescence. And this last dozen – incredible changes like, um, growing up! Twelve years doesn’t really seem so long, but those years represent the angst of middle school, the drama of high school with its activities, achievements and learning to drive. Graduation. And then college. The years of figuring things out and exploring options. Another graduation. All of the years of college done and gone, already part of her past. Amazing.

Now she’s on her own, working, paying most of her own bills. 🙂 That part is quite exciting. So is the next chapter for her, which begins in a few short months when she’ll begin a PhD program that will set her on the path to becoming a scholar in the field of marine biology. Very cool stuff, so while I lament the passing of so many years, the wrinkles around my eyes and those few extra pounds, I look forward to what’s ahead . . . more birthdays, more milestones and more memories as time marches on!

Scuff marks and memories

dart posterizerdI’m thinking about painting the basement walls. In fact, I’m looking around at our basement, and thinking it needs some work. Not just paint, but patching, sanding, freshening, and new carpet.
The basement has seen some action over the years. Many a school project has been constructed downstairs. The cats reside there. But mostly . . . there have been boys. Boys have logged many hours down there. It’s the place where my son and his friends hung out on weekends – because it’s home to the big TV and Xbox, the Pac Man arcade game, and the ping-pong table.

As I assess the condition, memories bounce in. Birthday parties . . . Superbowl parties . . . video game marathons . . . sleepovers, movie nights, and more. There’s a visible patch on one wall where my husband tried to repair a gouge in the sheetrock. Yeah, that was the time the ping-pong paddle flew out of one of my son’s friend’s hands and smacked a hole in the wall.

On the other wall, there are a series of pockmarks, a whole group of tiny indentations that make the wall appear dimpled. Well, that’s where we hung the dartboard. No, we weren’t expecting every hit to leave its signature behind.

Going up the stairs, I can see that the door and casing are severely scratched. It took me a minute to figure that one out. It happened a while back. My daughter’s Odyssey of the Mind team built a “vehicle” down there – a contraption large enough that one of the team members would control it from inside. Guess what? Once done, we discovered it was slightly wider than our basement door! Luckily, it had some give, so with a little pushing, shoving and finagling, we got it out in one piece. But, again, it left its mark.

While it’s definitely time for some freshening up, it’s also kind of fun to look at the scuff marks and enjoy the memories. Like the laugh lines on an old person’s wrinkled face – those scuffs and scars represent good times. Times worth remembering that I sure wouldn’t trade for a polished and pristine showroom.

Enjoy the moments!

Darlene