The knots.

As you all know – to the pain perhaps – I’ve been processing the departure of my eldest son, for a radical life choice.  I am also prepping, once again, to say goodbye on Sunday to my next son as he returns to college for his sophomore year.  Multiple friends have their kids also heading off to college this week; some their first to go, some their last {you youngsters, hang on, this may not the be phase you’re in, but you will be sooner than you realize and this post still sweeps you into the topic}.  

So, all that is to preface: my mind has been a-spinning.  I’ve been thinking about these tough parenting, family, and life transitions.  I’ve been wondering why they are so difficult.  Is it simply that I am a total baby about goodbyes and have never learned basic decorum? Is it that I’m a drama queen (hush, I hear  you laughing….be kind).  Is it that there might be more to this tough stuff; that we rarely take a closer look?  Well, I don’t want to engage in naval gazing, but I think I might do well to engage in some gazing at the very threads.

I mean, I think that really we have threads that run through our lives.  We weave them together, if you will (an old, perhaps tired, metaphor; yet useful).  Or we simply knot them together as a lifeline, literally in some ways.  Or you could use the patchwork quilt analogy.  Whatever works for you….but the point is that common feature: the knot.  We have to tie threads together as we change direction, color, pieces, pictures, parts.  It’s a job, not always easy.  Just like life, we have to tie together  the different parts places peoples, directions, changes and things.  And it’s not always smooth or simple, it can be frustrating and tricky and confusing.  Sometimes it’s really hard, even painful.  And that these transitions, the tough stuff?  These tough moments, times, events…they are the knots.

Knots are not pretty…unless you are my husband and are tying beautiful surgical or rosary knots, intentionally…or are an artist making celtic knots for the aesthetic cultural coolness.  But typically, knots are tight and looped and smooshed and twisted up, turned inside out on top of themselves, pinched and pulled as tight as can be.  And  when you get your unsuspecting finger stuck in one? Yowch!  But knots on the flip side are where the transitions happen.  They are hidden work. But they underlie the beauty of shifts and shades and pieces coming together and standing apart.  The knots tell the fullness of the story.  They are it’s very support and structure, of course.

So, why do we so often, why do I, try so hard to sidestep, soften or skip those very knots?  To stay on point with my summer knots: I hate goodbyes, they make my chest tighten and my stomach hurt.  I usually want to just end them as swiftly as I can and go recoup somewhere, distract myself from the pain of it all.  I think that is so common.  Who wants to hurt? Who wants to be sad?  But I guess what I’m thinking about so much this summer is that this very hard tight pulling from these events/times – even these knotty sad hard goodbyes, changes, transitions – they are a suffering, literally knot in my stomach.  But, in so many ways I think that knotty hurt itself provides the depth and the beauty to our lives. {No not in some masochistic way, rather in that contrast between the joys and sorrows, the experiences that shape and mold us.}

As parents, when we have to undo and retie those some of those knots…when we  have to let a young adult step forward into their new adventure…those knots are especially tricky.  You have to untie them, not to drop the thread though, but to gather that thread and retie it, looser, in a whole new configuration.  I don’t know about you, but I’m especially inept at knots and mine are messy and tangly and uneven with odd misplaced loops.  So retying the old ones that have become very tight – of a piece – into new, elegant relaxed ones…well, it’s a learning curve.  I’m no seamstress, no weaver, no quilter.  So my knotting is kind of a mess, it hurts as I tug to undo it and it catches and pulls as I remake it.  I cry and I cuss as I struggle with it.  But, even so, I know….I trust and I know… that these very knots are the important parts.  Even with the tugging tight hurt of them, they are the parts that count the most.