Monday, July 09, 2007

Getting the Blues Out

I’m new here, and appreciate the opportunity to be part of this illustrious group of mystery writers. Probably I should spend a few lines introducing myself, but there’s something else on my mind this morning. I’ve got a case of Mother’s Blues, and I know I’m not alone.

Last August, when my older son left for his first year of college, I had the blues bad. The fact that we live in Honolulu and he chose a university in Boston didn’t help. I was morose for weeks. I choked up at family pictures scattered about the house, the ones of our boys at six and eight, cute bright-eyed sprites who hugged each other for the camera. Then came the photos of their early teens, when they sprouted into string beans and settled into high school sports, driving, and girl friends.

As parents, we know these days are precious, but time accelerates. It goes even faster when we collapse into bed after days of scrambling to find lost homework under beds and in the pockets of laundered jeans, tracking down the escaped pet rat, and responding to teachers’ phone calls about lapses—and accomplishments. Then there are the New Drivers License Days, when with quaking knees, we allow the kid to take the family car (in our case a 1995 Ford Explorer tank) onto public roads and—gulp—the freeway.

One would think I’d remember the fights and other fracases. When the younger one pinched the older just as the camera’s shutter button clicked, or when the older one demanded use of the Explorer, more to declare his seniority/superiority than out of need. Then there’s the car itself: its duct-taped headlights, the jammed radio antenna that howls with futile desperation, the hanging fenders and misaligned hood. It looks like an escapee from the Bumper Car Ride at the state fair.

Nature made us mothers so that we forget the agonies and remember the joys, even when those come with the blues. Predictably, when the older one left two days ago to begin a summer job in San Francisco, I plunged into the dumps again. I know, we raised him to go out and explore the world, seek new challenges, and learn as much as he can. And he’s doing it. But I’m sad, because I miss him. I miss having the family together.

One of the best ways for me to get out of this slump is to write. My third book in the Hawai‘i mystery series comes out in a few weeks. And I’m well into writing the fourth, as I know how busy it gets when the new book comes into the stores and is available online. But ack! I just passed his room. Mismatched socks and empty clothes hangers litter the spotted carpet. A pile of clothes that wouldn’t fit in his two giant suitcases spill from the unmade bed, layered with piles of papers, old receipts, gum get the picture. I should read this kid the riot act, but I won’t. I’ll phone him tonight to make sure he’s enjoying his new job and tell him I miss him. And I’m going to put my energy into this book. The room can wait.

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