This 4th of July would be like many others. Unlike Jen, I had only a plan A, so if there were any snafu’s, my other options would be limited. We have done the same thing for the last several years, so I didn’t really feel the need to have backup plans.
As told in Memories & Shit Part 1, Jen and I had discussed our plans for the day. As mentioned, I did tell her about my thoughts of being abandoned by the kids once we were at our destination. She laughed at my dilemma, as she often does, citing that “it is normal for your kids to ditch you, trust me.” Like the fool I am, I will trust her…
Piling in the car, a total of 4 teenagers and a grumpy old troll. I say that because he is not fond of any holiday. I have a tendency to go overboard every holiday, so you can only imagine the conversations among us.
“Why are you putting the Christmas tree up on November 1st?”
“Because Halloween is over! It’s Christmas time, duh.”
Well, you get the point. It’s just who I fundamentally am, I can’t help it.
4th of July is no different.
25 minutes later we arrive at our destination. Kingston is a little beach town, perfect for a fabulous 4th of July festival by the water.
One by one, we all pile out and before my feet hit the ground, all the kids are gone. All of them.
I notice a young man, maybe about 25, sitting alone on the back of his truck next to ours. Nothing out of the norm, just an observation of mine because I by nature, I am a little nosey.
I set up my chair while the grumpy old troll and I made small talk. Instead of listening, I instead began reflecting over past 4th of July’s, when my kids still wanted to hang-out with me.
One year, the kids were probably 1 and 3, I took them to Leavenworth. It’s a quaint little Bavarian-styled village up in the cascade mountains. Both on my lap, we spent the day watching the parade and fireworks show. It was a day I will always remember.
One year, we went to a neighborhood fireworks show. It was all fun and games until a big falling firework landed on my head. Kids were young enough not to remember this one, however, I think I still feel a lump on my the top of my noggin.
One year, we were in Yakima for the holiday. We spent the day with family and attended a fair where my kids and nephew rode the rides and ate cotton candy. It was hotter than hell that day but memories were made.
For the last 15 years, all the memories I have made have been for my kids. I know times are a changing and in the words of my oldest “mom, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING with us.” But maybe I want to. Maybe I want to be a part of all the memories. Maybe I am afraid of being forgotten after they leave for college. Maybe they have been with me pretty much every day since I was 22 and even the thought of not waking up or going to sleep in the same house makes me sad.
As I am contemplating which one of my kids’ basement I will live in once they do “fly the nest”, I look over at the young man who is still sitting by himself in the back of his truck.
All the scenarios play out in my mind:
His girlfriend is running late. She got caught up in traffic and will be here any minute. He is waiting patiently as he feels for the ring in his pocket. Tonight is the night, he will propose to the girl of his dreams.
He is a lonely soldier far from home. He knows nobody and instead of staying in his shitty base apartment, he comes out to enjoy the fireworks by himself to get his mind off of being homesick. He misses his mama’s apple pie and his daddy’s long talks while fishing.
He is meeting someone on a blind date. The nerves are getting to him as he keeps looking from the phone to the street. Is she coming? Did she stand me up? He will continue watching and waiting until the end of the show.
He had a fight with his girlfriend. She wanted to go to Seattle for the 4th and he just wanted a nice, relaxing day, just the two of them. Why did she have to be so damned stubborn? He was clearing his head before heading home to an empty apartment.
His friends told him they would meet him there. After a few hours of drinking, they decide to get into the car and never make it to the festival. He keeps calling them with no answer. Where could they be?
The fireworks begin, with no kids in sight. They came back for a minute, just to grab their blankets and some money.
As I gaze up at the fireworks, I wonder:
What’s next for me? My kids have always been a huge part of my identity. What happens in the next chapter of my life when they begin their own lives?
I have a few more years to figure it out. I will try not to stress about it. Until then, I will enjoy every moment, every holiday, with these two kids of mine. Maybe they will leave me sometimes, but I know they will always come back to be with their old mom and make memories and shit.