I know my daughter in Seattle was probably disappointed by the mere little gift I could give her this year, but I knew she was tired of receiving my handmade jewelry and novels I’ve been passing her way for the past three years.
So, this morning, I’m giving her a gift no one else can give her–a story that is all hers. Merry Christmas, my precious daughter. I love you very much.
Letting Go and Standing By
2012 Copyright Barbara Celeste McCloskey
When you have a daughter, you nurture and protect her as she grows into a woman. As a baby she’s precious, as a toddler she’s cute, as a child she’s exciting and as a teenager she’s trying. And when she’s an adult, you pray you’ve given her enough, so she can stand on her own. When she finally moves out of your house, you’re excited for her, because you know she’s claimed her own life and feels strong enough to live it. That day came for me about three years ago. My Amy became an independent woman, took an apartment and a short time later, she got married. She’s made me proud. But today, she’s moving very far away.
Amy filed her “flight plan” a few months ago when she told me she was thinking of moving to the desert Southwest. She found herself in a dead end job and needed a change. I listened carefully to hear seriousness, and I found it. Her declaration wasn’t just an idle dream. I knew she had already completed her research and made her plan. She was just easing me into the idea she’d be across the country, instead of across town.
Amy’s adventure will give her an education. Not a college education, as I had hoped for her, but a real-life education where she will need her cunning, intelligence, and strength to make it through. This education will not be sheltered in the warm arms of academia, but in the cold heart of reality.
As I watch her stuff her worldly belongings into a U-Haul truck, I am remembering the baby I held in my arms 20 years ago. That dark-eyed, eight pound bundle taught me I had enough unconditional love to be a good mother. Then the ghost of a two year old, who was unwilling to climb onto the sofa until she knew she could get down alone, appeared. She shouted, “Amy do it!” after accomplishing her feat, and she’s been screaming for her independence since.
I know the time is near because she’s checking the map. I watch her with the same held breath, I did when she pedaled her two-wheeled bicycle without training wheels. I see the five year old climb on the school bus with legs almost too short to climb the high steps of the vehicle. I see her first ballet recital with her tu-tu fluttering, her first piano lesson when her feet didn’t tough the floor as she sat on the bench, her first art award. The memories flood my eyes. I can’t seem to make them s top. I’m a tornado of emotions. Excitement. Sadness. Happiness. Anxiety. Fear. Loneliness. My heart is breaking, and my eyes are betraying my smile. I tell myself I’m being selfish. I don’t want to let go because she’s brought so much joy to my life.
But this is her turn to dry her wings and fly, not mine to keep her in the cocoon. I command these emotions to take a step back. I will deal with them latter, but right now, I must be strong, supportive and happy for my daughter. She has a right to find her own happiness and prove her adulthood. I admire her. She’s taking a chance I was never brave enough to take. I assure myself, she has the tools of life I’ve bequeathed to her. She will refine them and make them her own. Perhaps some day, she will give them to a daughter of her own. She has my blessing. I pray her journey will be safe, and I’ll stand by when crushing homesickness, culture shock, and loneliness cross her path.
With a kiss goodbye and a wild wave, I shout “Have a good trip! Call when you get there!” And other “Mom” stuff as I watch her small caravan pull away from the curb. She’s left the station, leaving me in on the platform.
I watch until I can’t see the U-Haul any longer, and suddenly remember once she told me she wanted to make a difference in the world. Little does she know, she’d already accomplished that. Because of her, I became a grown-up. Because of her, I learned to love unconditionally. And because of her, I became a woman.