Who are you? A complete answer to this question requires a level of honest and unattainable self-assessment, because being a mother has been the singular constant of who I am since the moment I laid eyes on my little girl. My entire being changed in that instant. She became the strongest influence in my life, every decision made with
consideration of my primary responsibility as Emily’s Mom. I simply did not have time or the inclination to ponder ideas without involving my role as a mother. I pursued my ambitions within the context of what I believed would one day promote my child to a happy, healthy, and hard-working adult with strong values that I can respect.
And now that day has arrived. I now fully understand that old adage “it is not the destination, but the journey” because although I will always be a mother, the bulk of my job is done, leaving me with memories of what is bound to be my greatest trip. I am grateful that college provided me with time to adjust to less responsibility as well as time to heal from the teenage years. Perhaps God makes teenagers so full of angst and defiance in order to lessen a mother’s sense of loss when they move out. My giddiness regarding my freedom and much-cleaner, serene home was short-lived however, as I soon discovered an excess of energy with no outlet. Still, I fought my longing to call her every day and my desire for her to come home every weekend because my need for my child was outweighed by her burgeoning independence. It would have been like trying to reshape an almost complete sculpture that was the most breathtaking piece of art I have ever seen. I tried to fill the emptiness with work and found myself defined by something that was temporary and not nearly as meaningful. I celebrated by acting like a teenager who has the house all to herself, one with an exceptionally hot boyfriend. After two years of scrambling about trying to find something to take the place of motherhood I stopped, realizing that it was futile. There would be no letting go, ever. I will always be an influence on my child, just as my mother is on me. Being a role model is as important as it ever was, just as sharing my mistakes honestly with her has always been. I often told my daughter as she was growing up that if I am not always the best role model, at least I can provide an example of what not to do. So far that has worked well and she has avoided my mistakes. Why would I not continue to share the lessons I learn in hopes of her navigating life’s challenges easier than I have? This requires a different form of communication, no longer a lecture, but a discussion between friends. I am still working on that, motivated by a love that is as indescribable as I am.
It has been six years since my daughter left for college and two years since she moved away and became self-supporting. This year she married an extraordinary young man and I am confident that their palpable love for each other will endure. Her old bedroom still sports fuchsia and lavender on the walls, even though I told my husband he could use it as a man-cave two years ago. He likely knows that repainting that room is something that I need to do when I am ready. Almost there…
I am so glad to know that I am normal. I continue to have ups and downs. I wander around trying to figure out what I should be doing at the times I was once mothering. I wait on pins and needles for one of the girls to call or text and need something or just want to talk. I burst into tears at any given moment for no apparent reason and I take naps in their beds. Wow I am a mom beginning the empty nest thing. You guys did warn me that this was gonna happen, I was just unaware that it was going to be so tough!!!