Linda Henry

Thatwhich

Is it that time already?

September 10, 2014

I brought Churchy the turtle inside tonight. It seems a little early, since itís not even mid-September. I found him under the rhubarb plant. Though the temperature has been dropping all day and now itís in the 40s, he hadnít burrowed into the earth. Keith says he wants Churchy to have as wild an existence as possible, and I want that too. But the turtleís not from these parts; heís from 700 miles south. Plus heís old and he only has three legs. Every time he digs in, I feel like heís depleting his lifetime supply of energy.

I wish I could say I was fussing over the turtle due to Empty Nest Syndrome, but the truth is I probably would anyway. And yes, I am officially now a parent of what is oxymoronically referred to as ďadult childrenĒ (no, sweeties, Iím not calling you morons). Today, I admit, I dropped off a warmer jacket for Sam and nagged Grace via text about the importance of wearing layers. (She confessed she forgot to pack warm socks for college.) And in between I made my case to Keith about bringing in Churchy for the night.

Itís not that the summer went so fast, itís that the cold is coming on too soon. Thereís a difference, you know. Childhood goes fast. Adulthood takes forever and yet arrives without notice. I get that to everything (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn), but give us all some time to adjust, will you, God? When my daughter Grace was born, labor lasted less than three hours, start to finish. Iíd been through this twice before and it didnít go nearly that fast. But with Grace I was overdue and whatever they gave me to speed things up really sped things up.

I know at least three women who gave birth over the summer whose babies were in no hurry to be born, even with a little inducement. If they read this, they may say theyíd prefer a few hours to a few days in labor. But thereís something about the waiting for change that helps you prepare, at least emotionally.

Of course, I was happy to meet Grace sooner rather than later. And her speedy arrival sort of set the pace of our lives ever since. We are both the kind of gals who like to keep things moving. With two Type A female agendas in the household, itís a wonder the menfolk survived. And of course, I knew this was coming. The day would arrive when she and Sam would be gone. But now the temperature is dropping and I apparently didnít impress on them the importance of warm socks and layers. I covered everything else, didnít I? (Without going into detail, Iíll say yes, probably everything but socks and layers. I have the memories of their eye rolls to prove it.)

I know Iíve told my friends who have babies not to blinkówhen you turn 50, youíre required by law to get a colonoscopy and to say this to every new parent you know. But itís true that time speeds up the older you get. Even turtles slow down. Old Churchy didnít even poke his head out of his shell as I set him in his terrarium. He knows the drill. A few more days or weeks in the garden, and then itís time to hibernate again, at least until spring.

Selected Works

Essays
My daughter likes depressing books. ďSomeone dies in the first chapter,Ē Grace says gleefully of a novel she canít put down. Maybe this inclination comes naturally, growing up with the ghost of a sister she never knew.†
In which my brilliant son prevails against middle-school bullies. Adapted from "A Voice Not My Own"