Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | May 19, 2012

When your child turns 21

Doesn’t time get weirder and weirder as we age?  In some ways, my life before motherhood seems like ten lifetimes ago.  In other ways, it seems like yesterday.  For 21 Christmases, 21 Springs, 21 Mothers Days, my son has been by my side.  In another 9 years, that time will amount to half my life — he’ll be 30, I’ll be 60.  I was 30 when he was born.  Could it be so long ago already?

The continual overlapping cycles of life fascinate the imagination and feed much of my poetry.  Today I’ve been working on a poem in which Mortality — a woman of a certain age — invites me into her sprawling hodgepodge of a home that has undergone constant redecorating since the 60s (one room per decade — faded orange daisies on the kitchen wall, one bedroom in country blue and geese).  The basement’s next on the list.  She’s fretting about it since she doesn’t know what her decorators will decide.  The poem ends something like this:

I wished her the best and walked out

into the sunlight.  Who wouldn’t feel pity?

All that past, all that upkeep.

All that infernal iffiness.

It’s the iffiness of it all that keeps us going, I think.  And when your children reach 21, the iffiness of their lives intensifies in new ways.

If my son didn’t have autism, I’d like to think that this week I’d be congratulating myself on a job well done and consider my role in some ways finished.  After all, we’ll never know who we might have been had our children never been born, but it’s a pretty safe bet that our children would never be who they are if it weren’t for us.

But since Ramon’s chronological age is quite different from his functioning age, I’ll forge ahead with him into the iffiness of Year 22 and hope Mortality has lots more rooms available to redecorate in that Retro mansion of hers.


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