Bipolar parent disorder has descended upon our household. In the slosh of April, our man-child turned 18. Now, as August drips down our backs, he’s preparing to leave. The piles of his departure litter every room. We can’t stand to see him go; we can’t wait for him to leave.
Nature holds no prisoners. Offspring must eventually depart. After three years the mother moose drives the young calf away, forever to live on its own. Mother bears leave their cubs clinging to a tree, where they cry and call for mama for days on end. Mother eagles abandon the young in the nest, where eventually they get hungry enough to venture out and fly and hunt – or die.
All right. He’s not going to starve – or die. He’s only going to Kalamazoo. He’s on the meal plan. He hits enough good notes on the bass to keep the wolves at bay. And he’s the one abandoning the nest; we’re the ones staying, the ones learning to fly and hunt all over again.
Someone once told me that every few years he reinvents himself. He might be on to something. What else can you do when you’ve outgrown your skin? Or found someone else living inside your muscles and bones? The question is: who in the world is that person and how do they want to live?
The Finlander feels it, too. He looks at motorcycles and thinks about going back to school full time.
Is this middle age? Is the field as wide open as when we were 18? Are the dreams just as big? Can you really reinvent yourself again and again?
Perhaps it’s not bipolar disorder we suffer from, but schizophrenia instead. Maybe there’s a host of people living inside our skin: writers, gardeners, hikers, a motorcycle mama clinging to the Finlander’s leather skin. Some pictures are more amusing than others, but still there’s that desire to hit the road and go, further than we’ve gone before, before old age and reality set in.
Some people outfit their house with handicap ramps for the inevitability of caring for their crumbling remains. We’re planning for a heavy dose of mental illness; we’re blogging and buying camping gear. But schizophrenia is going to have to wait a little longer. Our man-child is leaving, but we have three more years until our woman-child turns 18.