We all have those moments that we wish we could do over again. One of mine was a time that I couldn’t stop myself from crying. Almost any mother would have at that moment, but I still wish I hadn’t.
Bryan left home for college five years ago this summer. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was to be permanent. We packed up two cars, his full of his stuff, and ours for the rest of us, and we headed out on the 600 mile drive. It was hot and chaotic hauling all of his stuff from the car to his dorm room in the August heat of Kansas. Once everything was deposited, the mother in me wanted to stay and arrange his new home into a home. The teenage boy in him didn’t. All too soon, we ran out of excuses to linger, and he walked us to our car. I knew better than to cry, but at the last minute I couldn’t help it, which got him going, too. I had wanted his first moments of independence to be full of excitement and possibilities, not tears. I consoled myself for my weakness…at least he knew that he was loved.
A couple of weeks later when my mother asked me how I was doing with him gone, I told her pretty good, though I certainly missed him. She then said something that I’ll never forget: that it was still hard for her every time we pull out of the driveway after a visit. That was over 25 years ago! This was an unexpected blow. I had somehow naively expected that this change was a temporary adjustment that I would work through, not unlike the sting after a shot. But my mother was telling me that this new, empty hole inside of me was permanent. I have been grieving this loss ever since.
Of course I want my children to grow up and find their way. I really don’t want them to live at home forever. But that doesn’t mean I won’t always and forever grieve the loss of no longer being in the nucleus of their world, and them in mine. It’s now the girls’ turn to race headlong toward the rest of their lives. I am so proud of the people they are becoming and super optimistic for what’s in store for them. And yet, in the back of my mind, I quietly dread the day that they, too, pull out of the driveway for good. It’s a reminder to make the most of today, while their dirty socks are on the couch and they leave a mess in the kitchen. I love the chaos and the noise of today, and I sure love them.
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.