Several people in my life are about to deal with recent graduates heading off to college in the fall. Entrance forms completed, acceptance letters received, the summer is preparing them for a shift in their universe. A bed, familiarly occupied in their homes, will soon be empty. No clothes piled on the floor, wet towels in the bathroom, or unmade beds left by the usual resident in view. A strange calm will hang over the house with noise levels significantly reduced by the loss of one teenager and his or her entourage. It is all part of the of the dichotomy of raising kids. On the one hand they can drive you to the liquor cabinet by keeping you feeling like you are teetering on the edge. Then without notice of a shift in the wind, the same dust disturber will pick you a bunch of scruffy wildflowers or offer an unexpected “I Love You” hug filling you with parental love and the overwhelming urge to protect them from all things cold and unpalatable life is likely to serve on their plate.
My two hit high school a year apart. It was the first time I’d courted the idea one day they would leave the nest. Still, four years seemed a lifetime hovering somewhere far off in the distance. With a frenetic life filled with work, children, friends, sports, and whatever else, the thought of them not sharing my house faded into the background not resurrected until the first graduation ceremony loomed on the horizon. Where had the time gone? It seemed as though I’d just tied the first wiggly tooth to a string on the doorknob the day before. Soccer camp couldn’t have been seven years ago? The school plays, long nights struggling over homework, family vacations, milestone birthdays, scraped knees, had flown past like someone had hit fast forward on the remote.
I sat that hot day in the hard bleachers feeling a knot in my throat and tears forming in the corners of my eyes as my first born stepped up when her name was called to accept her diploma for time served. A limo was rented jointly by five groups of parents following the ceremony. The adults stood as a cohesive unit on the corner watching the excited teens pile into the car swallowed up as if into the belly of the whale, wanting to hold on but knowing we must let them go. You cannot hold on to your children. In essence, they are only yours on loan. Our task is to guide them in the right direction, hopefully teach them survival skills, offer love and support, discipline them when appropriate, and eventually be strong enough to gently nudge them out the door towards their own destinies. It’s a tough assignment.
Junior college was next on my daughter’s list. One had been selected close to where my mother made her home. Her spare room was made available and a truck rented to relocate my daughter’s bedroom furniture and other belongings. Only a two-hour drive it seemed like a continent away. A recently acquired boyfriend, who would eventually sign on as husband added to her already packed calendar so I kept up by phone and frequent visits but it was not to be quite the same ever again. This is as it should be.
For weeks I sat in her room staring at the murky fish bowl left behind for the one who’d kept the fish alive up until that point. Not sure who I was if not a chauffeur, chaperone and guidance counselor I concentrated on the chick still in the hen house until he enlisted in the army directly out of high and I found myself on my own. For a while I struggled with my identity, but one day I woke up, stretched my arms, opened the blinds and found I had a whole day to myself. I spent the day digging into a new book on the nightstand, with only the cat and dog to entertain. After nearly twenty years of to-do’s, there was something rather freeing about having nothing to-do on a Saturday. I was not yet forty so time, if the universe was willing, was stretched out well before me.
Change is often unsettling, but stirring the pot occasionally tends to make the flavors more interesting. Stepping out of our comfort zones to embrace new experiences takes a bit of getting used to. For me, my life changes direction often. Over the years I’ve found myself in new situations, faced with new surroundings, new people, new jobs, and new challenges and joys. Always these changes have brought with them new perspectives and new learning experiences.
This week, for example, I’m headed down to help my daughter man her day care for a few days. Here I thought my dirty diaper changing and face wiping days were behind me. I have visited before many times, but this will be my first hands on experience with the little pirates. Hopefully, I shall return unscathed with some fresh blog notes to relate. See you when I get back.
This recipe was surprisingly delicious. As my mouth remains a little tender from the surgery, I am preparing meals easy on the teeth. My other half wasn’t sure he was going to like this but said he’d like to have it again soon, always a good sign.
Pork Burgers with Red Cabbage Slaw
1 1/2 lbs. boneless center cut pork chops, trimmed and cubed
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. chives, chopped fine
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup Panko break crumbs
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 sesame seed hamburger buns
Place meat in food processor and pulse until meat is a fine texture. Remove to bowl and add remaining ingredients except egg and bread crumbs, mixing well with fingertips. Form into four patties.
Mix together Panko and plain bread crumbs in shallow dish. In another shallow dish beat eggs. Dip each patty first in egg and then in bread crumbs to coat.
Heat olive oil over med-high heat in large skillet. Brown patties on both side, about 5-6 mins. per side.
Red Cabbage Slaw
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Place cabbage and onion in medium bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over cabbage and toss well. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to rest in refrigerator for 2 hours. prior to serving.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3-4 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
Whisk together all ingredients.
Spread mayonnaise on toasted buns. Place pork patties on lower bun and top with red cabbage slaw.