There is a season when we control most everything in our children’s lives. That’s the easy season.
It’s when Jesus takes the wheel when they’re about 17 we begin to lose our hair and drink more wine.
It seems my new Mama job these days is saying “goodbye.” Can you relate? It doesn’t matter how old they are or how many times they turn to walk out that door, my heart always dips a little and I feel vulnerable and sappy.
“Mama I’m just goin’ to school! The store! Work! Band practice!” they’ll say.
You just don’t get it, hon. You’re my baby. Always and forever.
I never knew fear until I had grown kids. Not the real extended version, that is. The kind that robs you of untold hours of sleep, creates grey hair and indigestion and drives you to the Doc for sleep aids so you can avoid the looney bin and wake up somewhat sane to face the world. (Until you realize medicated sleep leaves you ‘functioning’ in a fog the next day.)
Today at 7 am, wrapped in my oversized granny robe with hag hair and tired eyes, I followed my son to the front door like an anxious puppy.
I hugged him tight, reminding him of this and that, urging him to “be safe!” then I leaned hard against the open front door as I watched him get in the car and start the engine. The frigid air confronted me, adding to my melancholy – ice on the cars and streets, frost on the lawn, and I pulled my robe in snug and waited. He hung up from his cell call, fastened his seatbelt, backed out and creeped up the steep hill.
I didn’t move. I just stood there, shivering, watching him until I could catch no further glimpse of his paid off 90s white Toyota…and I saw my mother in my mind’s eye.
There she was back in the 70s, all five foot two of her, standing on the front stoop of our Midwestern rambler in her faded cotton robe with no make-up and greying pixie urging me with her timeless mantra, “Be careful!” and a hug. Then she would stand there for the longest time, while I started the car, organized my seat belt and piles of stuff, backed out, and gassed it up the hill. There she’d be, still standing with the door cracked open…it could be 30 below zero and she wouldn’t budge until I was clear out of sight. I never understood why, until now, as I watch my son do the same…
How we linger, hug twice, say things like,
“Be safe! Drive careful! No loud music, no texting, and please don’t go the interstate! LOVE you a million billion zillion!!!” while madly blowing kisses.
When actually we’re saying,
“Please let me look at you as long as I can. Please don’t get hurt. Please don’t ever not come home to me. Please choose your friends wisely. Please forgive me for when I’ve been a bad mom. Please know the depth of my love for you. You are my everything.”
As I fixed my gaze on my twig-thin teen-aged college student loaded down with his thirty pound backpack heading out into the fray, little did he know what my heart was communicating. How could he? He’s only a boy, learning of life, oblivious to the real dangers…the risk of driving up that hill.
At that moment I understood my mother and her annoying, clinging, obsessive behavior and I appreciated her caring so much for me, so many years ago.
Yep, full circle. I get it now.