I never expected to be the kind of mom who mourns the departure of her children every time they leave…to go back to college, to study overseas, to do summer internships out of town, to visit boyfriends over Christmas vacation….and someday, to not come home for the holidays at all, and to accept jobs far away that start their new lives elsewhere.
No one warned me that I might be so invested in them, that I would feel loss each time they depart.
That emotion always sideswipes me, and simultaneously surprises me because it’s not as if I didn’t maintain a rich personal and professional life of my own. I never wanted to live life through my daughters. And here I am with my own rich life, still feeling bereft each time they go their separate ways.
Well-meaning friends assure me, “It means you’ve done your job! They’re spreading their wings, and becoming independent. That’s what you want for them, right?”
Of course it is. I love them. I want their happiness and success. I want them to be their best selves and live the most wonderful lives possible!
That doesn’t mean I don’t still feel a chasm of loss each time they depart.
Sometimes I run into moms who experience the opposite end of the spectrum.
“I wish my child would leave home!”
When I first heard someone say that, I was astounded…until I realized that kind of mother fears her child might not reach his potential…might not lead her happiest life without leaving the cocoon of home.
Then there are those – far rarer in my book – who simply accept and rejoice with each milestone their child achieves.
Actually, we all do that…rejoice and celebrate our children’s milestones and achievements. It’s just that some amazing moms do it without any shadows hanging like curtains in the background.
The thing about parenting is that it doesn’t come with an instruction book telling you what you might feel, what you should or shouldn’t do, how to be a great Mother. It’s all trial and error. And love. And sometimes…guilt.
For, no matter what kind of mother you are, you often feel you could have done better. And then, you feel that if you were a really good mother, you wouldn’t be feeling this way. And you don’t want your child to know how you’re feeling, because you don’t want them to feel bad. So you ball it up and tuck it deep inside…most of the time.
That kind of mother always wants the best for her child and does the utmost to give him or her everything possible to ensure a wonderful, fulfilling life, no matter what she’s feeling inside.
No one ever warns you that, no matter what kind of mother you are, no matter the age of your child, the two of you will be tied, perpetually, by the heartstrings.
I wouldn’t give it up for anything.