Today I walked by your bedroom door and peeked in, out of habit I suppose. I saw your neatly made bed and your empty desk. I saw the closet holding just a few remnants. The things you didn’t need for college.
I didn’t mean to burst into tears. It just happened. I’m happy for you to be getting on with your life, pursuing your calling, and discovering where your gifts will be used in the world. This is what I raised you for.
It’s what I prayed for when you were an infant in my arms. It’s why I spent years teaching you everything from how to tie your shoes to how to change a tire. It’s what I hoped for when I taught you to look adults in the eye and give a firm handshake.
It’s what we prepared you for when we let you try t-ball and tennis and soccer and piano, knowing things like teamwork, self-discipline, and endurance were skills you would use for the rest of your life.
I stepped inside and sat on the edge of your bed.
I remembered the dandelions you picked for me and held behind your back when you were four years old.
I thought of the time I sat by your hospital bed when you broke your leg. I smiled when I thought of you reaching out to the kid who was sitting alone at the lunch table. I remembered the first day I tried to teach you to drive, and you almost crashed into that red truck on the corner. I revisited the long talks we had, late at night when the house was quiet.
Along with the memories came all the questions. Did I teach you enough? Spend enough time with you? Was I a good example? Do you have any idea how much I love you?
And what now? How often do I call? Text? Write?
How much is enough to let you know I care, but not too much to drive you crazy?
Once upon a time, it was just me and Dad. Then all of you came along and our lives were irreversibly changed for the better. Yes, it was crazy raising five under five. Back then, I probably couldn’t wait for this day to come. Then I blinked, and here it was.
I’m trying to be gentle with myself. I tell myself I’m in a transition and things will settle into a new routine. I’ll be OK. Now I have the time to pursue the dreams I had put on hold during my years of being mommy, nurse, teacher, chef, taxi driver, coach, and friend. But somehow, they don’t feel as important now as when they were just out of reach.
Call me sometimes. Maybe just to check in and let me have the joy of seeing my phone light up with your name on it. And when I send too many texts, or talk for longer than you’d like, or ask too many questions, please be patient with me. I’m in unfamiliar territory.
“Let them go,” they say. “Give them space,” they say.
I’m trying. I really am. But it’s harder than you can imagine.
My mom used to say, “Someday, when you’re a parent you’ll understand.” It’s someday, Mom.
I walked by your bedroom door today. I’m glad I peeked inside.