Another night of driving in the dark. This trip has had many. Tonight’s took us out of Yellowstone National Park, through part of Grand Tetons National Park, to our lodge. A full, blue moon above the Absaroka Range and a handmade Spotify playlist were our companions and they gave me perspective on our road trip for the ages. A collection of singer-songwriter stuff set the mood and worked it’s magic. Hero from the movie Boyhood made me melancholy the moment I heard the first line, like a potion of guitar chords and earnest lyrics. I looked at my boy in the back seat, nearly not a boy anymore.
Luke called a friend three times on this trip, a first for him – missing home, missing friends, thoughts far away on his own life. He gave us a good 10-year-old dose of attitude, a pre-cursor to the next eight years. And he posed for pictures with a serious face, clearly thinking he was cool and maybe even good-looking. These are new concepts for him, and for us. And it made the significance of our trip sink in. Nearly gone are the days of us as the center of Luke’s life. His allegiance and interest are shifting outside of our family, as it should be. Just as the brain science and child development books say will happen. He’s writing the preamble to his declaration of independence, slowly pulling away and becoming himself. Which is good. Which I love. And which makes my heart ache.
There were many moments of connection with our only son on this vacation: when he listened to the Start Up podcast with us, season 1 and 2, which prompted all sorts of good questions about being an entrepreneur, dating relationships, appropriate and inappropriate swearing; making massive sandcastles on the beach with Marc for hours; a long walk involving deep questions and answers with my cousin and me; hugs and kisses and snuggles. So all bets are yet to be off. But I know those moments will become fewer and farther between as the years go on. As the hormones rage and his brain re-wires itself. Making this epic road trip one for the record books, as one of the last times Luke (mostly) wanted to be with us for a while.
I’m not a mom who longs for the days of babies and toddlers and changing diapers. Those were precious and cherished years, but I’m great with remembering them instead of living them again. However…I’m not immune to the heartstring-tug of change. Of knowing that this road trip will not be possible in this form again. Luke will call friends more next time. Will complain more about not getting Taco John’s. Will think Marc and I are dumber and even more out-of-touch. (I already understand less than 10% of his obsession with Minecraft.) The reality of that hurts. It’s inevitable, and ultimately what’s best. But a little bit sad.
As we drove through the dark, I looked back at Luke, up at the bright moon, and wanted to cry. Just for a minute. At that moment, everyone was happy – the girls playing “triage” with their fake laptop (learned earlier on the trip from a visit to the ER – see prior post for details), no one melting down despite the late hour, Luke pondering his upcoming Minecraft youtube channel. The trip took on a rosy haze of nostalgia, though it wasn’t yet over. I saw into the future by weeks and months and years to the time when we remember this trip as a past adventure, laughing at the mishaps, smiling at the good times and skimming over the bad. And I prematurely looked back with a smiling, aching heart at this trip when the moon shone down on our car full of kids, on our boy who was still a boy, shuttling through the dark summer night. Into the future.