I am not that mom. The one who is distraught over her baby leaving home and heading off to college. I am not that mom who is upset and loses sleep when she doesn’t see her kids for a few weeks. And I am not that mom who wishes her kids would be young again.
Or at least I didn’t think that I was.
Sure, I’ll admit, I miss my kids when I’m not with them. At least most of the time. (See Las Vegas)
But I’ve been divorced from their father since they were young and I’m used to spending time away from them. Every other weekend. A few weeks here and there over the holidays or school breaks. They’re teenagers now. Well, one is 18 and the other almost 16. Both are relatively responsible. Good students. Good kids.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about my son leaving for college in August. Before that he’s going to be gone for a month. As he has been every summer for the last few years. He’s going to his happy place in the Poconos. This is the first summer that he’s staying with friends and not family. (The mom is a saint.)
So I won’t see him much before he goes away to college.
And next month, my daughter is going halfway around the world to Vietnam for 4.5 weeks as part of a community service project. She’s going to help build homes in a small village. The longest I’ve ever been away from her has been three weeks. And she was in the same country. Did you know there’s an 11 hour time difference between here and Hanoi?
So as I was working on our summer travel plans this evening, I started to notice an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach that kind of crept up to my heart. Not a heart attack. Not indigestion. My heart was racing and I was getting a little sweaty. Not a feeling that I’m familiar with. And I didn’t like it. But I understood it. It was panic. Panic from all of the changes and firsts and distances that were going to be coming up.
I went away to camp every summer growing up, from the time I was in junior high. For the first four years, I was gone for a month at a time but the last three years, I was gone for two months because I worked at the camp. Then I went to college. And Europe. Kind of far away from home. If my mom was ever worried about me or if she really missed me, she never showed it. Her hand-written letters were always upbeat and newsy. Full of all of the fun things, and even the mundane ones, that she was doing in my absence. And it made me happy to hear of her adventures and how her daily life went on when I wasn’t there.
And isn’t this part of the reason why we’re parents? To prepare our kids to go off on their own. The fact that my kids want to go off and have these adventures and leave me is a good sign. They’re curious and they’re independent. And they’re excited. There’s so much more to life than our small town. Hopefully, they’re also just a tiny bit nervous. Because being nervous is okay. It keeps us on our toes.
So on this Mother’s Day, as my kids get ready to go on their life-changing voyages, I want to say thanks to my mom for so many things. Her love, her support, her sacrifices. But most importantly, thanks Mom for letting me go. I love you.
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