Just over twenty years ago, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, my first child. Less than two years later, her baby brother came into our world.
For twenty years, those two human beings have been my focus, my priority, my heartbeat. I am not the best mom. I’m not a cookie-baker, I’m not a great cook (or frequent cook) by any means, I’m not super-adventurous.
I have messed up. I have spoiled them. I have given them too much. I have expected too little. I have forgotten to teach them important things. I have taught them unimportant things. I have been sarcastic and selfish.
But with all that said, I am a good mother. I know – and they know – that I am a good, good mother.
I have loved my children protectively, loyally, supportively, unabashedly, loudly, mama-bear-ly. Over and over and over again. Every day of their lives.
Sara is a sophomore in college. Jack is a freshman.
My children have left.
When we dropped off Jack at school that day, and we drove away, I closed the door on my twenty-year season of daily mothering.
I will always be their mother. I will always be their momma. I will always be their mom.
But something changed that day. Something shifted. Something ended. Something died.
I told my girlfriends a few weeks back that the grieving started…crying in the grocery store, crying in the middle of the night, crying in church.
But who am I kidding? The grieving began the moment they left the womb and were placed in my arms and I had this sense that they were more mine than anything I had ever had and yet at the exact same time, that I only had them for a moment.
I remember realizing that I knew them better than anyone else on earth. And every day since then, I have also realized that I know them less and less, that they are keeping more and more of themselves to themselves, as they are learning who they are. And I am relegated to the sidelines.
Gratefully, so gratefully, I have had a front-row seat, and gratefully, so gratefully, I do still know them so very well, that I know their cues and can pick up on the unspokens.
But here’s one thing I know. They can go off and leave and never come back – please, God, no – and I will still love them more than any other person on this planet ever has or ever will, no matter what.
Goodbye, my babies, goodbye. You will be missed. You will be supported. You will be let go, a bit more every day.
And you will always, always, always be loved.