I’m standing outside of her bedroom door the night before she heads off to college. Tears fill my eyes. Brown boxes, large bags, and bulging suitcases with mementos are stacked in our living room waiting to be transported. 100% of me wants to go into her bedroom, climb into bed with her, and tell her not to go. And 100% of me wants to scream with excitement and push her into the next phase of her life. Both are true!
Instead, I walk quietly upstairs. I pass pictures of her in pink tutus, pictures of her sweet, tender infant cheeks, pass backpacks and size 8 shoes, and purple water bottles. I can literally feel every one of those moments. I can hear her little giggles. I can see her walking into kindergarten. And I desperately want to hold onto those moments AND I desperately want her to know I absolutely feel in my core that she’s ready for these next moments.
You see, if we’ve done our job as parents raising these small humans, they become incredible older humans who we love to hang out with and cherish their company. And who we’ll deeply miss. And that’s what’s happened. I’m mourning my roommate of eighteen years who I’ve cradled, guided, fussed over, worried for, loved and celebrated. She’s felt unconditional, crazy mom love and it’s allowed her move into this world with confidence and bravery.
Because we love them so much, they take us with them. Parts of us that they’ve tucked away into spaces in their hearts and minds. I know that to be true. And still, it hurts. I’ve tried to reframe goodbye with new starts. But it turns out there are no words for: my heart might fall apart because it’s filled up with so much joy, excitement, pride, grief, overwhelm and love.
So, I’ll just feel it. Feel all of it. It pours out of me as smiles, laughter, and tears. And a profound knowing that I’ve collected all of these moments in my heart, including the privilege of dropping her off and saying, “You’ve got this sweetie. Call me if you need anything.”
I think I’ll go sit in her bedroom a bit. Her cat misses her too. We can commiserate. And, thankfully, my husband hasn’t hesitated holding me the last few days and doesn’t question when he sees soft tears flowing for a bit. Just gives me a reassuring hug or smooch saying, “I miss her too.” And “She’s ok. You’re the best mom, ever.”
None of this was in the parenting books, friends. Saying goodbye, even if it’s temporary, is tough. Feel the feels. Call your friends. Be patient with yourself. Accept hugs. Rest. Breathe.
To all of the other parents giving big hugs and trying to hold back tears, I see you. And Go Beavs!