When does motherhood or parenting really begin?
Probably you’ll find and read a million stories for each and one of us moms out there.
For me it began with a longing in the heart.
I became a mom for the first time when my beautiful baby girl was born. Even though she became bald in just a week, she was the cutest darn thing I had ever laid eyes on.
During the years that followed I went through the ups and downs of motherhood. Preschool, Elementary, Middle and High School passed by in a blink of any eye. The day she graduated from a Math and Science Prep School at the age of sixteen seemed surreal because I could still close my eyes and see her with a red t-shirt, blue jeans, Cinderella sneakers and her lunchbox during her first day of Kinder.
I will always remember how terrified I was of her getting admitted to college so young. It went to the extent that I enrolled in the school’s master’s program to stay close in case she needed me. (Doesn’t that sound pathetic!)
I was lucky enough to land a teaching assistant job, which let me work and study at the same time. After I would finish teaching my classes, we would meet in the cafeteria and share a snack. Her freshman year at school wasn’t much different from her years at school.
I would walk around with her, buy her ice cream and just do the regular things we always did. By the end of the year, my husband pointed out that it was time to let go.
Let go, are you out of your mind?
I couldn’t do that, she was my baby. What if someone took advantage of her? These were the answers I aimed at him as if I was practicing in a shooting range.
If you’re wondering what happened at the end and who prevailed.
Well my husband did. A crazy mom like me needs to be grounded by a normal dad.
I did eventually let go, but not really. I always remained close enough for her to reach out if she needed me.
She moved out in her Senior year. After traveling Europe with a backpack, her boyfriend and her best friend during the Summer.
Still she didn’t remain too far away from home, she called and stayed over each and every weekend and during her long summer trip she emailed each time she came across the opportunity and found decent free internet.
Probably you’re still trying to figure out what makes this story so special about parenting! I thought that I would never get used to the idea of having her away from me.
Becoming a mommy had changed my life forever, no longer would I be alone or tend to my own person. I became the anchor not for one, but for three more boys.
But, Stephy and me shared a special connection.
She not only knows me well enough, but also understands who I am and accepts and loves her looney mom.
After graduating from college she left for Arizona to serve as a volunteer in the Southside Presbyterian Church for a year.
Some time ago, she told me she was staying taking a job at The Florence Project (a non-profit that provides free legal assistance to immigrants) as a legal assistant.
You can’t come to understand what that meant for me, I felt I was falling off a cliff.
Finally, time had catched up on me and I knew that no longer could I hold on to her.
It was time to let her go for real.
Not into the world because she had been doing that for a while. She has been traveling since she was nineteen. She had been to Canada, Kentucky, two times to New York City, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Spain, France, Holland and maybe I’ve missed someplace.
Each and every time I took her to the airport I knew she would come back.
This time around it was different! I just wanted to cling on her forever. A little piece of my heart had been chipped away. It’s living now in Arizona and tomorrow God knows where.
Parenting isn’t about keeping your children close or pushing them out the door, it’s about letting them find their own way. Even if it means stepping out-of-the-way after doing our job.
I knew it all along the way, but just couldn’t face that reality.
Even if I know that a hug can never be substituted by Skype, it can work. Not seeing her eyes during a conversation can be substituted by learning to identify the inflections of her voice to know if everything is fine.
Letting her talk, without giving her so many opinions also works for me nowadays.
Bottom line, I’m no longer at a safe distance, but many miles away, just trusting her and making her feel loved and cherished for what she’s become.
How can I not trust her? She’s what I raised her to be as she frequently points out to me. A strong, independent, well-rounded young woman facing the world as best as she can. Maybe with a few separation anxieties around there, but who can blame her if she had me as a mom!