In the beginning...
It is a strange thing to love a child, for its the only relationship in which you can love someone fully, absolutely knowing that they will leave you.
In fact, every day they leave you a little bit more. The simple act of birth is their first push away into their own individuality. The baby whose eyes light up with wonder at the sight of your face soon becomes the toddler who says NO and tantrums against you. The five-year old who loved to cuddle and read stories with you will one day be the ten-year old who wants his space. The ten-year old who would still hold your hand if no one was looking will transform into a sullen, cynical teenaged alien from Mars who recoils from your touch. And then, just when they’re getting to be a little bit tolerable again, they leave home.
And through it all, we love them.
I’ve been through all the stages. Crying myself to sleep after driving my daughter to college, bittersweet tears watching my son become a man, get married and have a child of his own, and even now, at five-years old my youngest is flexing his newfound masculinity, preferring to spend his time karate chopping his imaginary enemies, rather than cuddling with mom. This morning, dropping him off at Kindergarten I reached out to kiss him goodbye but he was off and running toward his friends - he never even looked back. And that’s great, right? (sniff...sniff) It means he’s secure and confident. (sniff...sniff) And so today I have to let him go just a little more than yesterday.
It is only when I’ve resisted these changes in my heart that I’ve suffered. I’ve known all along that it was the right thing to back up and give my children the space to grow, but still I pined for the innocent days already gone, which passed too quickly while we were all busy having a life.
A couple years ago, I looked around my house filled with photos of my older children as babies, their huge saucer eyes peering out at me from the past, and a pang of sadness washed over me. I was longing for a time that no longer existed, and in doing so, I was not giving the present moment the appreciation it deserved. My eldest babies had grown into beautiful and strong young adults: Cristen with her job in the music industry and world traveling, Taylor balancing gigs, his young family, and world traveling. I am so proud of the people they are today. And no, they no longer need me, or cry every time I leave the room like the good ole days, but they have rich, independent lives, and isn’t that what every parent wants for their child? (sniff...sniff)
So I swept the house of past memories, and put them in albums. I kept a few up, after all nostalgia does have its place, as long as you don’t live in that place. I hung new pictures reflecting who we all are today. My daughter in Paris, my son Taylor at the helm of a boat, embracing his wife, and of course current pictures of Evan and the grandbaby. Most importantly, I left room on the walls for new memories to be made.
Holding on to the past didn’t serve me, or my children. It’s like the sad feeling you get when you see someone still sporting a mullet. You have to honor that time for what it was, but embrace today.
Today I try to gather my family around a table for dinner at least a few times a month. It is such a joy to see the grown ones interact with their little brother and the new baby. It fills my heart with pride when Cristen, Aya or Taylor offer to cook for everyone, taking their turns being at the helm in the family. I am happy to see them shining in their new roles.
What I’ve learned about letting go is that I didn’t lose anything, though it may feel that way sometimes. In fact I’ve gained more than I could have imagined. Now I have a beautiful daughter-in-law who I love, and a precious grandson. Given the space to grow, love transformed into something new and miraculous.
One thing I know for sure - when I put my trust in love, it never disappoints.
Cristen holds her brother's son... *sigh*
Taylor and his beautiful wife Aya
Aya has morning cuddle time with Evan and Ayumu
Sissy and Tay-Tay with Moomers
(translated: Taylor with his son Ayumu and sister Cristen)
Our family - where love brought us