Recently Z gave his students a homework assignment to answer the problem 2+2= using any answer but 4. When he told me about it I said my answer would be my mom and dad plus me and my sister. When my mom came to visit I told her about the assignment and asked her what her answer would be without giving her mine. She said “Your dad and me plus you and your sister.”
If the problem Z had assigned was 1+1= my answer would have been him and me. If it was 1+2= it would be T plus Z and me. But for now 2+2 still equals the family I grew up in.
I haven’t lived with my family full time since my first day of college in 1995. I didn’t even go back for summers. And there was no empty nest syndrome for my folks. They were thrilled to have us out of the house so they could have their relationship back. Likewise my sister and I were both eager to get out and grow up.
Over the last 7 months I have spent a lot of time thinking about family and time and life. When I was growing up our family seemed like it would be forever, yet when it ended as my daily reality I didn’t even notice. But the first few days with T put the brevity of the nuclear family into sharp focus.
At the hospital we were told the stump of the umbilical cord falls out around 10 days after a baby is born. For those first 10 days I couldn’t think about T’s stump falling out without crying. It seemed like the beginning of the end, the first of a million tiny milestones that would lead to his adulthood. Now, I get how overdramatic and ridiculous I was being and continue to be. Don’t worry-as soon as he was born I got back in to therapy.
Any maybe all of this stuff is painfully obvious and I shouldn’t be so surprised by it. But I am. The unhealthy part of me wants time to freeze right now. I want our little family to be forever. Instead I am trying my damndest to enjoy the hell out of our life so I don’t miss it by mourning its passing.