Though Brooke’s last three years before graduating high school were challenging, but I was not one to count the days or hours ‘till she left home. I wasn’t entirely sure she was ready, and yet, she was chomping at the bit to get out of the house and on her own. That hurt. I had tried to create a loving, supportive environment for my daughter to grow up in, and now it appeared I had failed. I felt as if I were cast aside, left behind, rejected. How would I cope with an empty nest?
Like many teens, some days she seemed to love me, some days she didn’t. Had I lost her? Would she love me again one day? Had I done it all wrong, I wondered. Did any of what I did have meaning, when all was said and done?
Brooke’s high school graduation was a flurry of events, an awards dinner for honors students, several get togethers with friends, and finally, the event itself, the moment Brooke’s name and honors would be announced, tears would flow from my eyes, there would be hugs and an evening of reminiscing.
In an instant, I seemed to have lost my job. My position as Mom, or “Momma” was over. It was a job I had loved, it entailed nurturing, loving, cooking, caring, guiding, and more loving. As suddenly and relentlessly as it had begun, it was now over. Where has the time gone? I knew I’d still be there at the side, cheering her on, but the day in, day out part of the job was over. In it’s place was a bit of an ache, a pinch of hope, a touch of concern, but mostly a vast space which heralded new chapters for both of us. For a minute, I lost my way.
Time was no longer a straight line, but a nebulous cloud that enveloped and confused me. There was next to no cooking or cleaning to be done. No car pool lines, no more poster board to buy, no more classroom parties to plan, no more sleepovers and no more summers spent playing Pesky Purple in our swimming pool.
Some of my friends fell into depression, others celebrated after their children graduated and moved on to the next chapters of their lives. I was awkwardly in between. So much to cope with, so much to feel. So much to process. Although my life had been shifting for three years, it somehow felt like it had changed in a moment. From married to single, from stay at home mom to what ever I am now. New friendships, new opportunities, a new life partner.
Life keeps going, even when we feel we cannot. It goes on whether we know what to do or not, it goes on whether people come or go. Life seems to continue on no matter what, so long as we are alive.
It’s been almost three years now since Brooke graduated high school. Our relationship has morphed from mother and child to friends. We talk every day, cheering each other on, sharing secrets, and life’s ups and downs. We are both creating new lives for selves; the excitement is palpable. She has come back, and she is even more amazing than I imagined.
In a year or so, Brooke will be graduating again. This time there won’t be the worries, or concerns. This time there won’t be the loneliness, and questioning. For both of us, it will be celebrating yet another major accomplishment for both of us.
We all have different journeys with our children. We all see things in our own ways based upon life’s circumstances. But if, like me, you feel a bit lost, give it some time. As you look at this change a few years down the line, you will be surprised how beautifully and uniquely Life has a way of falling into place.
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