I had always wanted to be a mother.
When I was a little girl I loved baby dolls and played with them often with my sister and the friends that also enjoyed them. I did a lot of pretending and practicing of parenting on those fabric and rubber dolls. I chastised them when they got out of line and did the very best to make sure they were fed, diapers changed and comforted when they were crying.
Becoming a mother of a real baby, well, all that doll practice couldn’t have prepared me physically for what that entailed. I suppose I was young by today’s standards. I was 21 when my first was born. I had been married for 3 years and was ready to begin my career of parenthood.
I had always heard people say, “time flies, before you know it they will be gone”. When I looked at her, she was tiny. Everything about her was so little and perfect. I have always been a sentimental one, and I decided to write her a letter to her older self. You know, just in case I wasn’t around. People die often and most the time it isn’t a something we see coming. (Shucks, I did almost fly the coop, just 2 years later.)
I wrote the letter. She was just a few weeks old. I put it in her baby book. Writing that letter helped me to align my thinking of just how much time there was to imprint and help mold.
The milestones came and went. 1 year birthday, first sentence, first tooth, potty training, First night alone without us, 3 years, 8, 12, 14, drivers permit, driver’s license, first job, first love, first break up, first car, and graduation from grueling high school. So many first’s and milestones. The Graduation was this year. A party happened in honor of her.
And the next milestone, was moving out.
I knew it was coming. She gave us all plenty of warning at least a year in advance. She swung from one idea to another, and mostly these swinging ideas activity was happening in her head, so it came as a surprise when she said last week, “Guys, I have a room rented and I’m moving out this week.”
“Ok, I said.” I was really determined to not make a huge deal out of it. No, this mama heart is ok. I knew this was coming, I’m going to be just fine. This is natural, normal and I’m good. I’m calm. I’m not going to over think it.
And really, I didn’t overthink it. I watched as the next milestone happened quietly and quickly. I helped her load a few things, including a package of frozen dumplings for when she got hungry. And I stood on the curb and watched her little white Kia drive away. It was gonna be her first night in her new place.
I knew this was a first. I was happy for her, but also a tiny bit scared. I didn’t know where she was going, or who was living with her.
It wasn’t till the 2nd night of her being gone, that it hit me at midnight. I pictured myself standing in the doorway of her empty room. The sun’s rays were tired from the day and crept in through the window’s before retiring for the night. The window was cracked, and the breeze blew the light grey curtains around. I was telling myself that I was excited for the empty space of her bedroom. But I was really trying to cover up and stall the tears of mourning of a closed season with my firstborn.
Be brave, suck it up. You knew this was coming. Its no big deal.
My heart wouldn’t except being told to shut up. No, I bauled in my bed. Like a little girl who had lost her favorite baby doll.
No you shut up, you logical, organized, “just so” goody two shoes mind! I have every right to cry about my daughter moving out. See, I have conflicted emotions often, about which part of me is running the show. That night, my soft heart won out.
I went from her recently empty room and was transported to her room I had made for her as a baby. It was purple, with flowers over the windows. A white crib, white rocking chair in the corner and changing table. She was there. Her tiny arms reached out to me for rescue and comfort.
The feelings I had weren’t sorrow from a death, but more of acknowledgement of turning in the keys of parental control, the cutting of the apron strings the wondering if the job was well done. The knowing she was never mine to own but only to guide. The completion of a life season and closing of this book. She had graduated. And I to, had graduated. This momma needs a party to!
She has more firsts coming. The first time she knows the guy is the one. The marriage ceremony, first baby, first home. The first time she knows her purpose and full place amongst her peers, family, and God’s kingdom. I am hoping to be there for some of those, if not all.
I hope while my kids are out there busy planting their own gardens, that they can be proud of their roots. That they will feel loved enough that no matter what mistakes, big or small they make, that they will know they can always come back home to a judgment free zone. That the grace given (that has not always come easily) to them would be realized and passed into the next generations.
Ya, now I’m crying again. This flimsy napkin has been disintegrated into crumbs.
And I remembered what they said, as I stood in the doorway of the empty room watching the curtains flow about. “Time flies” they said. “Before you know it, they will be gone.” And I saw from my own experience, they had been right.