My daughter turned 21 this year. I remember when she was born. She was jaundice. So, I laid her in the sunshine by the window in her pack ‘n play. I had Enya playing in the background. I used to love Enya for her emotive music, so soulful. But this time, instead, it made me cry. I cried like a baby. I hadn’t noticed before that Enya’s music had a sadness to it. But, this day, when I was balling, all I could think about was this little bundle of love was going to grow up and leave me. Enya’s music, though soulful, also has a sadness, almost a dirge sound to it. My hormones were raging and somewhere inside of me that sad sound is what my emotions were responding to. This really isn’t about Enya’s music so much as it is about the feeling a mother has for her child. From the moment you give birth, you are no longer able to protect them because now they are separate from you. And one day, sooner than you realize, they’ll be leaving you. Childbirth is bittersweet. It’s a welcoming of a bundle of joy into your life that you love more than anyone in the world but also a realization that they have begun their journey of separation at the same time.
Somehow I shook off the feeling and went about loving and bonding with her. I loved the pre-school days where we enjoyed sweet, innocent TV shows and I was her playmate. Then came Daycare. She cried when I left her. I cried when I got back to the car. It’s just not fair that I had to work. But, she loved Daycare and all was well. Then came kindergarten. I cried when I dropped her off. I thought she wouldn’t need me anymore. I thought she would love her teacher more than me. But, all was well, yet again.
She’s at college now and has been for three years. When she was a senior in high school, I began anticipating her leaving. I had so much fear. I feared that our relationship would change. I feared what kind of relationship I would have with my husband once the house was quiet. I feared what I would do with myself no longer being a full-time mom. I can say that her first year at college was bumpy on all fronts. But, I can also say now that all is well. Not only do we still have a relationship but it’s better than ever. She’s not dependent and she talks to me because she wants to, not because she has to. I’m proud of the young woman she has become. She’s strong, smart, sensitive, thoughtful, funny, and loving.
All those stages and transitions, they are difficult. Letting go begins at birth in a small way but it is the path of life. We were all meant to bond and leave but there’s always a thread to keep us together and that is love.
My latest book and my first picture book, Little Birdie Grows Up, was inspired by this shared experience of parents. It’s getting great reviews. The Audiobook narrator even thought it would make a good graduation gift–probably for Mom. It’s available on Amazon in paperback, ebook, and Audiobook.
Love those babies with everything you have and remember you only get one shot at raising them, be present, enjoy each moment and don’t let fear guide you, let it be love.