I was talking to a friend last night about parenting and trying to capture the words to explain how I was feeling at the realization that I would only be spending less and less time with my children. Tears streaming down my face I stammered about how I knew at the start of this that the goal was to launch them out into the world to live big bold beautiful lives and that is was what I still wanted for them above anything else. At the same time I had not prepared for what that would do to my heart. Just like the moment I became a mother and grieved the woman I lost. Here I was once again, twenty years later, staring grief in the face and feeling blindsided by it. I still don’t think I am describing it all well enough. Those of you who have launched young humans out into the world will understand I hope, just how it feels like it all sneaks up on you.
The friend asked, such a wise question, and might I point out she is only 18, “why does it feel so sad?” Words tumbled out of my mouth as I tried to capture everything in a coherent way. “It’s been the best thing I have ever done and I don’t want it to end,” wasn’t quite right because it simply isn’t ending. I do get to be their mom for the rest of my life. We have amazing adventures and memory making in front of us. We will be forever connected. So I tried again and I think this is what I landed on as true. “Young people have a zest for life that I don’t see in my peer group,” (to be honest I have surrounded myself with some super zestful peers but in general it’s missing in a lot of people.) I will give you an example of what I mean. This past weekend we drove an hour and 40 minutes to go shopping and skate with friends, landing at home around 10pm. Got up the next morning at 5:00 to go drive that same road and further in order to hit the slopes for the day. Yes, they had me hurling down a mountain on two slippery sticks trying not to break a leg. Making the long drive home, we rested a bit the next day before once again driving that long road to the hockey rink, for back to back games that had us driving home during my bedtime hours. I fear had it just been me, and my peer group, we would have talked our way out of this busy schedule with excuses of rest and sore muscles. But the young adults, all they did was find the reasons why this plan was perfect and doable and the absolute best idea. When I am surrounded with that I push myself to explore the edge of my own comfort. I find out that I am actually able to do physical things I had already taken off the table. And they show me over and over again, that it is the hard work of getting up off the ground that makes the perfect run down the mountain exhilarating. I can get stuck in the it’s hard to get up off the ground part and they remind me, without it, the perfect run would hold far less value.
So I am not just sad about them leaving, I am fearful that without them I will fall into the trappings of living with in the fears of my own mind. Since the day they were born, my boys have pulled me into a better version of myself in ways, I would never have come up against on my own. It was in preparing them to launch out into their best happiness that I had to heal my own wounds. Perhaps, as my young friend was alluding to, I too have grown into a different version of myself. One that even without their eyes on me will continue to push out the edges of my comfort to live my biggest, happiest fullest life. Maybe, just maybe, all of us our about to launch into a new world of wild adventure, not so side by side, but definitely together.