Family Matters


Bottom of the Ninth

July/August 2011


This is a story about change, loss, and a baseball game that I didn’t go to. It’s about the painful pleasure of having children prepare to launch themselves into the world, severing ties and—in some sense—leaving you behind forever.

Our youngest daughter has entered her final year of high school and is busily applying to college. My wife and I aren’t new to launching children—our eldest son has finished his undergraduate degree and has started a family of his own, and our middle son just began his junior year of college. While each of these takeoffs had its own, unique emotional trajectory, an important similarity linked the two: at least one child remained behind for us to parent, so my attention turned fairly quickly from feelings of loss to focus on the two, and then the one, still harbored at home. I managed the melancholy that came with the knowledge that the era of basement rock-band rehearsals, raucous Simpsons and Family Guy TV marathons, and impromptu, lawn-lacerating lacrosse games and wrestling matches was coming to its inevitable close. But this next looming departure, this concluding flight, brings up different feelings.

Jessica is my only daughter, and we’re very close. Despite being of different genders, it seems to me that we’re “built” the same way emotionally. Our sons were quite a handful in their early years: the first radiated a relentless energy, which required constant, creative channeling, and the second struggled…

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