The Male Minority and Missing the Boys | Mark’s Remarks


We just dropped our No. 2 son off at school to join his brother, and now I am in the minority. Just like that.  

We had to put the dog down a few weeks ago, so I don’t even have him to rely on.

It snowed this weekend, and I thought about my sons the entire time I was shoveling the drive. Sure, the ladies in the house are capable of shoveling, but it’s not like having two big guys next to you for help. 

In the past week, we’ve been making our usual daily plans. More than once, we have to stop ourselves from thinking that No. 2 son was at home to watch his younger sisters or take one of them to a function of some kind. We have lost another driver.

Since my oldest son has already been at school for three years, we’ve gotten used to him being away.  It’s also a blessing that his younger brother is now there, able to rely on him for guidance. Still, we now have to get used to two of our children not returning texts or able to tell us all about their day. Or really want to tell us about their day.  

We have to get used to yet another kid being on his own, away from us.

When you try to explain your emotions when one of your kids goes away, it’s really hard to put into words. Sure, you are a bit sad, melancholy and even a little regretful. 

Did I spend enough time with that kid? Did I talk about everything I needed to talk about? The answers to those questions and countless more are usually, “No.” We did the best we could with what we had to work with. It’s time for him to move on.  Ready or not.

But I also think there are other emotions we as parents experience. We must admit there is some relief.  OK, this kid is out on his own to an extent. It’s going to be a learning experience, but he’s basically got to be in charge of himself. You no longer have to look out for some of his mundane concerns any more. So yes, there is relief.

There is also excitement.  Most parents want their children to know there is life after high school, although many adults never get out of high school.  They move back to their community and fall right back into the cliques and the monotony. OK. To each his own.

But most of us are excited our kids are out in the world, ready to meet new people and experience new things. Michelle and I are both excited that our sons are going to be able to experience a new life, away from small-town life and away from what they have gotten used to. Yes, it’s exciting.

I was talking to a parent the other day, and we both agreed that the worry and the angst many parents hang onto is pointless.  There’s no sense in focusing on every little thing all of the time. You will drive yourself crazy and eventually fear and worry will paralyze you. You will be unable to function, worrying about your kids all the time. 

Letting your kids go requires a huge amount of faith. In God. Yes, they were His to begin with anyway. 

We also have to allow ourselves to enjoy every phase of our children’s lives. We loved the little kid years, and even the sour, “hands off” teenage years were fun. When my oldest son comes back to visit and sits in the living room, talking for long lengths of time (often out-talking us past our bedtime), it’s enjoyable. We look forward to it with two boys now.  If we allow ourselves to enjoy our kids, whatever their age, it just makes life changes easier.

When I tried to text the other night, my younger son, only away one week, responded with “shopping with friends. I’ll text later.”  Friends. Shopping. OK.  That sounds good.  Another text I received this week was “It’s great here. Having fun.” Whew. Good.

And just when you think they might not need you anymore, you get a text at 11 p.m. on Saturday, asking for help with how to iron a shirt. 

All Michelle and I could do was smile.

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Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.