Joy, frustration, pride, worry, heartbreak—they all play a role in the drama that is motherhood. Unbelievably, I’ve been acting out my role of mother for 27 years. Each emotion has seasons, coming in as gentle waves or heart-wrecking tsunamis depending on what’s happening. 

I was recently rewarded with a tidal wave of relief. My eldest got married in October last year and is five years out of college. She’s gainfully employed and her husband is a kind, loving partner. They have an apartment, a car payment, and two cats. I’ve known for some time that she’s just fine, but now that she’s on her own, I’m not part of her daily life. 

A recent social media post cemented my assurance that my daughter is a healthy adult who has her life in order. She shared on Facebook about her husband attending a function for the evening and that she was going to treat herself to roasted asparagus with dinner. Her husband doesn’t care for asparagus.

When I saw this, I wavered between uncontrollable laughter and grateful relief.

Even once our children are grown, parents worry. This is sometimes rational and sometimes not. It’s built into our mom DNA, I suppose. 

I’m pretty hands-off with her on purpose. If she needs a listening ear or asks for my input, I provide it. However, I try to allow her to forge her own path as she continues to navigate this important time in her life. My mom did the same for me, lovingly watching from a safe distance once I was an adult.

The idea that my grown daughter was staying home to cook dinner for herself and that asparagus would be a treat brought me comfort. Perhaps it was an odd omen, but it means she’s arrived. She knows who she is and what she likes. She isn’t going to let others stop her from enjoying things. Plus, she knows how to cook.

I sent her a text poking fun at the idea of asparagus as a treat. She replied that she just wanted to live her life. This is a longtime joke between us. Her mantra, “Let me live my life,” is a funny reminder that she’s not my little girl anymore. After this exchange, I reflected on all the energy and sacrifice it took to raise her. 

She was born when I was an 18-year-old high school senior. Everything about my situation was stacked against me. Statistically speaking, everything about her life and mine is a statistical anomaly. We both earned degrees and are working in our fields of study. We’re both happily married. Her Tuesday night excitement about asparagus produced a cosmic sigh of relief way down in my heart where worry sometimes hides.

Despite my own failures and floundering as I tried to be a good mom to her, she made it. I did my best. I look at her and can’t believe how far we’ve come. Years of hard work and praying for the best have come to fruition.

She’s a compassionate, intelligent woman who is having an impact on this big wide world. What more can a mom ask for? It is enough for me. Except maybe just a little bit of that asparagus.

Tracy Gerhardt-Cooper

Tracy Cooper is a New Jersey wife, mom, teacher, and writer. She loves Earl Grey tea, quiet mornings, and autumn leaves. You can read her blog, Earl Grey and Yellow, and follow her work on Medium.