There is a scene in the movie “Boyhood” that really hit me as a parent. It’s when Mason, the main character, is packing his things to get ready for college, also leaving his mother with an empty nest. His mother is crying and she says, “You know what I’m realizing? My life is just gonna go, like that! This series of milestones. Getting married, having kids, getting divorced, the time that we thought you were dyslexic, when I taught you how to ride a bike, getting divorced AGAIN, getting my master’s degree, finally getting the job I wanted, sending Samantha off to college, sending YOU off the college… You know what’s next? Huh? It’s my fuckin’ funeral!”
“Aren’t you jumping ahead by like, forty years or something?” Mason responds.
“I just thought there would be more,” his mother cries. Those seven words made my eyes water.
Isn’t that how it always is with your children? You try to control them; you want them to be happy; you want them to be successful; you do everything in your power to get them on the right path; you go through numerous trials, tribulations, heartaches, celebrations, touching moments, angry moments, loving moments, pride moments. Then they up and leave. Plus, they do not take any of your advice.
What is that “more” that you crave at that moment of departure, that moment of realization that the person you raised is now truly a grown-up? I think, perhaps, it could be another child. If we had the power right then and there to snap our fingers for a new infant to appear, we probably would.
The “more” we really should be seeking, however, is our brand new empty-nester self and what that will bring into our life.
But really, when you think about it, we are always expecting “something more” in everything we do, aren’t we? We get excited about a result created from our sincerest efforts and after a period of time it loses its luster and we are onto something else. Or we become disillusioned or disappointed in something or other. With parenthood, however, in a sense, our children are forever a result of who we are; we expect more all the time and usually get less, even when our children are super achievers. I think that is the norm, and I’m sure there are exceptions, albeit small in number.
So, when Mason’s mom said she expected more she was lamenting the fact that the next stages of her life were unclear, except for her certain death.