Good morning, dear. How are you? I have seven days left with my daughter before she leaves for college. It has been the outside of my ability to keep myself together these last two weeks.
It’s been two weeks of retrospective. Two weeks of well-how-did-I-do? Two weeks of just trying to sit with the reality that my day-in and day-out parenting of this child is coming to an end to be replaced by something else – still parenting, but from a distance and on an as-needed basis. And the regret, no avoiding that.
This weekend, while daughter was on a special sea-kayaking trip with little brother and dad (he can’t even talk about her leaving), I went to a beautiful park with two of my nephews. There’s a creek there with a beautiful natural pool. They splashed while I sat on the edge and thought.
Sharing my little rock ledge was a young mom with her husband and her two little ones, ages four and six. Both kiddos would go careening out into the water, splashing and stomping and then come back to mom. Out into the world, back to mom. Out and back. And yes, I know, I pray, my daughter will come back. And I know it will be a little different when she does.
It was all I could do not to grab this woman by the shoulders and weep, “Pay attention! Love this! Enjoy this! It won’t last forever!” When one of her kiddos accidentally came back to me instead of his mom (getting me a little wet in the process) she hurried to apologize. I assured her that I didn’t mind in the least and it gave us an opening to talk.
I told her about my daughter getting ready for her independence. We talked about the constant pull back to home from our jobs. She and I had both left jobs that required us to be away from home too much and neither of us had the tiniest bit of regret for that decision. We both found jobs that allowed for a better balance, more flexibility. We talked about the fact that, while we occasionally hated our jobs, occasionally even despised the work that took us from our kids, we were grateful for that work too. Grateful to keep a toe in the outside world, grateful to be a financial full-partner in the marriage, grateful to always be hungry for time with our kids.
“It’s great to talk to someone that gets it,” She said.
I get it.
Love your life, Mamma. Love the imperfect wonderful mess of it.
Because you only get to live this bit for a little while.
When your kiddo is ready to move on, when you are the one sitting on your sofa with their moving boxes all around you, wondering if you did a good job, thinking about how much you’ll miss kiddo’s smile, I hope you have very few regrets, tens of thousands of lovely memories, and a rock solid relationship with kiddo, ready to grow to the next place.