Goodbyes always feel bittersweet to me. In a few months, I’ll send my youngest son off to kindergarten. In a few years, I’ll send my oldest off to college.
Insider trading tip: You should all buy stock in Kleenex.
When I began writing Domestic Disturbances, I didn’t think very far into the future, even though I knew this day would eventually arrive. Life was too jam-packed for contemplation: I was busy burning dinners, chasing after kids at the playground, praying to the potty-training gods, and fighting the good fight to keep my minivan clean. I never once won that particular battle.
Somehow, months slipped by, and these essays piled up. I wrote about adopting the world’s sweetest black lab, Bella, taking a pole-dancing class (trust me, that was my editor’s idea), and throwing a disaster of a kid’s birthday party on a spectacularly rainy day. I chronicled our adoption of a little stray cat, and move into a new house, which meant leaving behind the pencil marks on a doorjamb that charted the growth of our three kids. Those snapshots, preserved between these glossy pages, created a chronicle of my family’s life.
It’s just one reason why I’m so grateful to have written the Domestic Disturbances column for nearly a decade.
Another reason why is you. I’ve received such kind emails from readers—I’ve cherished every single one—and even was greeted on the street by someone who recognized me from my photo at the top of this column. Naturally, that thrilling moment came as I was fleeing a restaurant, carrying a writhing toddler who was throwing a world-class tantrum.
But your emails have taught me that my family’s story isn’t so unique, after all. We’re navigating many of life’s rhythms together: Praying for our toddlers to fall asleep because they’re just a wee bit—OK, a lot—more lovable when they’re slumbering. Planning a family vacation and then wondering why we always return home more exhausted than when we left. Trying to grow a vegetable garden to teach our kids about nutrition, only to realize we’ve spent a hundred bucks to produce a misshapen carrot and a handful of tomatoes that were thoroughly enjoyed by squirrels. Wanting desperately to protect our tweens and teens from emotional bumps and bruises, but realizing, heartbreakingly, that we no longer possess magic kisses to soothe boo-boos. (But not that pole-dancing class—I suspect I navigated that rhythm alone.)
Change is inevitable. I see it all around me. My older kids no longer need supervision when they play street hockey; in fact, they text me that they’re walking to the Brookville Road diner for a grilled cheese. Sweet Bella’s muzzle is woven through with gray now, and when I come in the front door, she climbs off the couch slowly, her glee tempered by a new hesitance. There’s a goodbye in my future with her, too, and I can hardly bear to think about it.
It’s time to hand over this space to a new writer, and give that person the opportunity to capture life’s rhythms and to connect with all of you. I’ll be turning my full attention to writing novels, but I hope to keep in touch, so please email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe I’ll even bump into you around Bethesda. I’ll be the one consoling myself with a salted caramel cupcake because I’ve gotten another freaking parking ticket.
Thank you all so much for reading this column through the years. It has been a privilege to write it.
Sarah Pekkanen’s latest novel is Catching Air (Washington Square Press, 2014). She can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more Domestic Disturbance Columns, from 2010 to today, below: