My oldest son is away from home again. I would like to say I am handling it will all the grace and composure I imagined I would back when he was here with me all the time. I was certain I would fill my time up with all those activities I dreamed of doing back when he was younger and my days were filled up primarily with meeting his needs. I visualized myself sending him off with a hearty hug and a “have fun out there”. Rejoicing in the fact that his roots were solid enough in us that he had the courage to fly away confidently exploring the person he is outside of us. That’s not what’s really happening. Evidenced by the stranger knocking on my van window yesterday to see if I was okay since she had witnessed me sobbing alone in my car for the past few minutes. It wasn’t the first time that day that feelings of grief had crippled me to the point of uncontrollable tears.
I made a decision back when I first met this human being to do all the work necessary to show up as my best self as often as I possibly could for him and his brother. I put on my mom hat and wore it with pride and commitment every single day. There were other hats I put on throughout this time of mothering but always to the side of or underneath my mom hat. It was my priority. And now things are shifting. I thought way back when that these would be the days that were full of me chasing down my own desires and passions. The ones I imagined in the beginning of mothering that I was missing out on. I thought this would feel exciting.
Truthfully though, this may possibly be scarier then becoming a mother. And that transition took me out at the knees. That place where I lost who I had been in order to become a mother was scary. I had wobbly feet underneath my unstable legs and I was so very uncertain as to how I would ever know what to do with this human being who’s life I had been entrusted with. But there was some guidance. This tiny bundle of love looking up at me wanting to be filled with love. Guiding me to the things he would need in order to thrive. I had an blank map for sure but it came with the most adorable tour guide. It also felt like a beginning.
Here now I stand before a map that is blank indeed and my tour guides appear to be heading off in opposite directions. Leaving me behind to find my own way. It also feels, in this right now moment, more like an ending than a beginning. Though I know it is both because I know that is how life works. Somehow though this knowledge feels much farther away from truth than it has to me before. Cause it’s on me now. I mean it really has been on me all along. But for some reason I found it much easier to step up to the plate and come up with a plan when these four adorable eyes were looking at my for confidence, patience and a sense of direction. Now that I am looking with just my own eyes, I can’t see much through the tears.
I’ll be honest some days I don’t know who I am outside of being their mother. The task of figuring that out is some seriously scary shit. It is way easier to scurry back in to a place of mothering, finding a spare sock who’s partner desperately needs to be located RIGHT NOW, or preparing for future meals seems easier then untangling the dreams that have been waiting their turn and deciding how to take a minuscule step toward one of them. Won’t I loose my kick ass mom status if I look at something else for a moment? Do I really have what it takes to be more than that? These questions make me tremble with fear. Because once again, my son being away, like this entire parenting journey, is way more about me than it is about him. It’s on me again. I still haven’t got used to swallowing that pill.
There are tiny comforts are making their way in though. I suspect they will be the lifeboats in my personal storm. I am still mom. No matter how far away they drift, I get to wear the mom hat for the rest of my life. Even if I decide to put another hat over top of it to chase down something my heart desires, I can easily remove it to show up as I always have. The love, we have been banking up for all these years, is right there with the touch of a button to rush in and remind me that everything is exactly how it should be. The date on the calendar that reminds me when my son will arrive home is in the grand scheme a short distance away and then the balance will reshuffle. Our days together still do out number our days apart. The truth, that we have held on to all these years, that together we can do hard things, is underlying all of this. The place where we are connected doesn’t disappear with distance, or new roles, or the chasing of any dreams, it is the foundation that has been lovingly tended to year after year that will stretch into our forevers.
So as I said to the lady at my window yesterday, who asked if there was anything she could do to help, “thank you for noticing me in my sadness.” It is the releasing of it that I have to trust is the way through to embracing all the many more moments of joy that are waiting to unfold.This parenting journey is one of simultaneous joy and grief, the feeling of both is what allows us to show up with all the love we have for these human beings.