Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Transitions- always a mother


I am feeling emotional today.  Life is full of transitions, big and small.  Birth, death and everything in between.

My son, Austin, is moving out.  It is a day I have looked toward for a long time.  Yet, I am sad.  Worried.   He is an adult and I know it is time.  He is ready.   Nick and I are helping as much as we can while trying not to help “too much”.   But I will miss his presence in our home.   He is not the youngest, but he is the last one to move out.

You know, somewhere in the back if your mind, when they are born, that your children will some day be on their own, away from you.   You nurse and nurture.  You watch in awe as they learn things because of you and in spite of you and because of nature.   Smiling.   Rolling over.  Walking.  Such huge achievements.   Getting on the big yellow school bus for the first time, or the last.  All of these are milestones that take your breath away and make you sad and happy and proud and worried all at the same time.

When I was little, as with most of us, I just couldn’t wait to grow up.  I always wanted to be a mom and have babies.   At one point I thought I might want to have a dozen or so kids.  At another point, I was sure I would be a doctor, and that staying home would be a waste of time.  I would take the requisite (I thought) six weeks off with each child and then get back to more important things.

Then, I became a mother.  I embraced it with a passion.   I was giddy almost.  I felt like Wonder Woman!  I created a whole person.  (Yes, I know, I didn’t do it all by myself).

We, Nick and I were happy that I could stay home and raise our children.   So, we had them.  Five in all.   Before we had five, even after the fourth child, five sounded like a huge number.    And, I have to admit, more often than I like to admit, parenting so many overwhelmed me.  Each had their own likes and dislikes.  They all had to be in different places at the same time it seemed.  

I cannot honestly say I ever regretted having any of them.  But there were times when I wondered what it was I had expected and how that clashed with reality.

I yelled too much.   But I laughed too.  Once one of the kids asked me, “Mommy, why do you laugh so much?”  To which I replied, “because if I didn’t laugh, I might cry”.   

Loving so deeply is hard.  It is draining.  It is scary.   At first, there were times when I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t stand to have my baby/ child/ teen out of my sight.   I didn’t want to miss anything.  I didn’t want my children to be sad or scared or hurt.   But I wanted a moment of peace so I wouldn’t lose my mind.

And now, we have been through three of their marriages.  Two of them have ended.  And I hurt because I know that my [adult] child has been hurt. 

At first the relationship between a mother and her baby is the most intimate relationship possible.  You get to know every piece of the baby’s body and habits and they dig deep into your own being.   Even the scent of your own baby permeates your soul.

And then.  Poof.  They are gone.   Not really gone.  Oh god no.  But, out of our house and home and daily life.  They don’t need you any more.  Well, they do.  They need to know that you are still around.  But they have their very own, private struggles and successes and failures.   It is as if they never had parents at all, but just opened a door and walked through it as adults.

I have been there.  That adult child.   Sort of.   I wanted to move out when I “grew up”.   Instead, I got married.  So, even though I didn’t have my own place, I took on the responsibilities of an adult.   A fun loving, goofy adult, but an adult nonetheless.

I carried Austin in my body for the first part of his life.  I carried him in my arms.   Watched him learn to walk and talk and run and grow up.  I look and I see a man who towers over me and makes me feel small.  He is so strong and confident, and happy.

I am happy too.  That he is on the next step of his journey.

Now, Nick and I are on the start of our journey.  One without children running and screaming through the house leaving finger and foot prints everywhere.

We will sit in silence.  Watching TV.  Or reading.  And we will talk.  About the goofy stuff we always talk about.  Stuff that I am sure drives the kids crazy.

Twenty eight years ago, I was holding a four-month-old baby against my body.  Nuzzling, and nursing when he wanted.  I was so in love, and so proud of what an amazing person Austin was already developing into.  

Tonight, we left him at his door.  The door to his apartment building.  His new home.  On his own.   Of course I know he will be fine and do great.  But as I reached up to hug my “little boy” I almost had to stand on my tip toes.   He gave me a great hug.   I felt tears in my eyes.

And we said “goodbye” and drove away.

Freshly home from the hospital

All grown up and going off in his own direction!

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