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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Parenting Orbits


I got to spend a short, but ever so sweet, holiday visit with both my sons and their sweethearts at Zac and Erin's new apartment in Santa Barbara. Alex and Heather drove up from San Diego and I drove down from Palo Alto for an impromptu gathering. Though three out of four of them had to work at one point or another, we spent some relaxed, super-enjoyable time hanging out, making latkes, exchanging gifts, eating out, and watching movies and sports. It was my first time seeing them in Santa Barbara since Zac and Erin relocated from New Orleans in October.

I took a walk one afternoon and was flooded with the memories of my Mom's visit to me not too long after I moved to Santa Barbara from Illinois – about 38 years ago. (38 years!? Objects look so much larger in the rear view mirror.) I remember how nervous she got as we drove on a narrow winding road going upward from the Mission. And how we got high and giggled through a drive-in movie. My dad also made a weekend visit at a point when I'd just moved into a no-longer-standing cottage on State Street – furnished only with a mattress on the floor. To his credit, he held in his reactions and got me a used dresser to complement the mattress. As I walked along State Street, I felt the closure of a very long, elliptical, family orbit.

I remember feeling an awesome dual-sided awareness when the twin boys were born twenty five years ago. On the one hand, they were so vulnerable (4 lbs and 2 lbs) and were connected to nobody on the planet but me and Deborah. It was the deepest feeling of connection I'd ever experienced. On the other hand it was like these two beings had dropped from the stars into our care. That second feeling totally blurred during all the years of parenting.

Watching them as full-grown men making their own ways into the world of jobs, apartments, relationships, etc. I am again struck by both our deep connection and our separateness. I wonder if my Mom or Dad felt that duality during their visits to me? It's another orbit (or revolution) to mark in amazement and appreciation.


  1. nice group of kids you have there!

  2. Elliot, I can totally relate to the parenting orbits . I had my kids later than most. I was 37 when Ben was born
    and 39 with Sara Jane. Now I'm 60 and they are 23 and 21. What an evolution having children is. Mine are not completely on their own yet, so I'm trailing you there, but the feelings seem to be universal. And my parents are both gone since 2001, and that is another 'trip'.
    I am enjoying your writing so much.
    Peace Love and Understanding, katie