Although I have left my son and his family in Little Rock, Arkansas numerous times, it doesn't get any easier. It's always a strange juxtaposition of feelings as I drive off. On one hand, I'm usually ready to get back to my own home and immerse myself in the daily activities and routines I have become accustomed to. On the other hand, I never really want to leave my son or my grandkids.....especially my son.
I also happen to love my son's wife, but the longing to remain with her isn't as strong simply because I am not her Mother. She has her own Mother who probably feels similar things as I do when she leaves her daughter. Leaving my grandkids isn't easy either simply because they're growing as quickly as my own children did and when I leave them, I know they will not be the same when I see them next (Of course, who really is?) Grandkids have a way of doing that....especially Grandkids who live out of town and are seen only a handful of times throughout the year. So, leaving them is never easy, but because they are not mine to raise, I am able to let go as a Grandparent in a way I cannot as a parent.
We parents are supposed to give birth to our children, love them, raise and praise them, and then let them go when it's time. That's what most parents do quite effectively, but I can't help but wonder about the "letting go" part. Are parents really able to "let go" and continue their lives in whatever form it takes after spending at least 18 to 21 years raising a child?
I'm one of those parents who struggles with "letting go." On the surface, I do a great job. I'm good at giving my grown kids space only calling them once a week for the most part and rarely giving them advice unless they ask for it. Not only that, I don't intrude. I stay out of the way when it comes to how my kids raise their kids. I trust their judgement and their abilities to love as I have loved them. I even smie and wave cheerfully as I drive away when it's time to go home.
If you go beyond the surface and dig slightly deeper, you will see that, while my success on the surface of "letting go" is apparent, the emotional struggle below is hidden to all, unless I've decide to speak the truth or you catch a glimpse of the tears streaming down my face as I try to hide them behind my sunglasses. Those tears always betray what's going on within. They usually appear shortly after I've left my son and am cruising on the highway at top speeds passing cars hoping no one notices my sadness. Occasionally, the tears cover my face in the middle of the night as I lie awake with a mind that wanders and wonders about the past....which most certainly will involve my grown children.
If I had it my way (and I speak for myself, not for my children) I would live in a huge house, big enough to comfortably house and shelter my six grown children and their new families. We would all live together sharing life and continuing the life that was begun when they were very little. We would play and work together, sharing the inevitable joys and sorrows that are a part of life, but always living and loving no matter what path our lives take.
So, on the surface, as I say good-by to my son and his family, you will see the usual hugs, kisses, smiles and waves as I drive away, but shortly after that, my eyes will swell with the salty tears of sadness as my heart struggles with the separation between Mother and Child. It doesn't matter how old that Child is. There is a part of me who has never been able to accept the separation forced upon me when a child of mine leaves home. It may be normal, but it doesn't seem natural.
Later this week, I'll be visiting one of my daughters who lives in Chicago. Right now, my youngest two sons and i can't wait to see her. We've got lots of fun plans for the visit. I think she is just as excited as we are. I will enjoy every minute I have with her as I did with my son in Little Rock......until I have to say good-bye.