Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Current State of My Art

As the leaves on the trees wither, it confirms the stirring I feel.  A season has come and gone.  The winds of change press heavily at my back. 

For the past seventeen years, I’ve educated my only son.  And though his needs morphed and lessened as he grew, we’ve been daily companions since his birth.  It was his season to move on, and now, it becomes mine.

At first his absence didn’t seem that different from the annual week at camp.  His father and I have more time together, always a good thing. But each day, the void widens further, stretching into an entity.  Today, I stand on the edge of the damn thing, knowing I have to fill it or risk falling in.

When my son was five, he declared that he no longer wanted to be cute. 

He wanted to be funny.   I expect his roommates will appreciate his mature wit.  Personally, I’m jonesing for a hit.

So I write. I rub the dogs’ tummies.   I rearrange the areas we shared in pursuit of learning.  He no longer needs the guidelines I gave him for research papers.  His professors will supply their own.  For class work, we replaced his clunky laptop with something sleek and portable, and the old one will be relegated to some mundane chore around the house.  With each new chapter of my son’s life, we created our own stories to complement the thousand books now huddled on my shelves.

His educational Sherpa, I guided his trek from phonics to physics.  I helped him conquer the fundamentals, reassuring him during the dark days of Algebra 1 that he really was a math guy.  While through simple conversation, his father incited my son’s fascination with science.  How does electricity work?   What exactly is gravity?  Is light a wave or a particle? We both remember his deep disappointment when he learned that humans can’t really travel to distant planets as they do in Star Trek.

We didn’t know if he was a boy or girl until the surgeon removed him from my weary womb on the day of his birth. Eleven minutes past midnight, my husband followed the nurse to make certain they tagged the right child.  I was shaking so violently from the epidural, I was afraid to hold him.  But his warmth radiated through my skin, soothing me like a magical balm.  Now I miss the quick bump of his fist.

I enjoyed a dynamic career before my son came along.  I traveled, broke barriers, built products. Morning sickness haunted my last business trip to Japan.  And during the time we shared a library, he watched me launch other ventures.  But no matter what I do from here, he will always be my finest work. I taught a boy how to read, how to write, and, ultimately, how to divide.  

Helen Hanson works in the high-tech sector, which informs her geeky thrillers. According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, she wrote # 1 bestselling technothriller, 3 LIES, with “an artistry that is hard to deny.” 

Currently, she’s writing a sequel to 3 LIES. You can find her thrillers in the usual places. And you can find her at coddling a goblet of red.


Sue Coletta said...

That is so touching, Helen. My heart goes out to you during your "empty nest" phase. It sounds like you have a very special relationship. Thanks for sharing a piece of that with us.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Sue. He'll show up with dirty laundry one of these days, and the bubble will explode. But for now . . .

Susan Clayton-Goldner said...

A moving blog, Helen. It brought back memories of my own son when he took off for the University of Chicago. He now lives in Chicago with his wife and two small children. The boy disappears into the man. The birth of my grandson brought my boy back in some powerful and poignant ways. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your heart.

Unknown said...

It goes so fast, eh, Susan? Our neighbor, who is a few years older than my son, just returned from Afghanistan, and I barely recognized him.

Eliza Cross said...

With a twelve-year-old son of my own, your essay pierced my heart this morning. You reminded me to remain grateful even as we both struggle with homework that involves dividing compound fractions. It sounds like you raised a wonderful young man.

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