Saturday, November 09, 2013

Letting My Heart Walk Off

Our middle child, Ben, lives far away. He and his wife, Sara, have a happy life. They both have useful work and exciting adventures. They have a nice home and their lives are good.  I like that our kids have the courage to follow their own paths.  I would want nothing less for them. They sent this photo when they were on one of their adventures.

Today, though, I'm just missing them. It must be time to plan a trip to see them.

I once read that to have a child was to agree to have a piece of your heart walk away from you. Isn't that just so true!? It starts shortly after they are born when a nurse walks off with your baby to weigh and measure and come up with all those vital statistics about them. After 9 months of being as together as it gets, even a few feet apart seems like too much.

When Ben was born, those first moments apart were frightening. He was born with the cord wrapped so tightly around his neck, they had to cut it before he could finish being born. My first glimpse of him scared me. He was pale, so very pale. He was quiet. I didn't think that could be a good thing. And he was quickly whisked off, out of my sight. There went a piece of my heart.

As the doctor quietly tended to business with me, she finally noticed that I was crying. When she asked me what was wrong, I thought she had lost her mind. I squeaked out something about my baby being dead. Really. After my glimpse of him, I thought he was dead. Swirling hormones may have confused my thinking but I thought that was why they'd whisked him away so fast. If I remember correctly, Mike had gone with the baby as well. I just remember an overwhelming sense of loss.

My sweet little doctor (really, she was like 4'11" or so) reached over and flipped a switch that worked an intercom to the nursery. Instantly, I heard a crying baby.... my crying baby! Apparently, all was well. He'd just had a few moments of catching his breath after having been strangled. It all turned out fine.

Their growing up years are full of such separations. I loved having my little kids with me. Whenever I had to drop them off at a daycare, I couldn't wait to get back to them. It just seemed wrong to be apart.

And Kindergarten! That was sooooo traumatic for me. The first time, I was totally unprepared. Mike asked me ahead of time if I'd cry when Maria went to school. She was so excited, I was sure I'd just be happy for her. Well, as it turned out, she got on a big yellow bus for her first day of school. It was as though a big yellow monster had swallowed her! I smiled and waved and then had to duck behind a nearby shed so she couldn't see me out of the bus window. I fell apart! When Ben went to kindergarten, more tears. By the time Sam started kindergarten, I knew to take Kleenex with me!

Fast forward to kids and college... that almost did me in! Maria was first. She was just going to be a few hours away from us. We drove her there, helped her move into her dorm room and then said our good-byes. The boys were with us and I was working hard to hold myself together for their sake. After leaving Maria's dorm room we went down to the building's main lobby, where I excused myself to go to the restroom. Once inside, I burst into tears! It was rather dramatic for sure. I'm more of a quiet weeper than a sobber, but not so that day. I just kept thinking that our family would never again be the same. I remember hiding in a stall trying to stop the noise when I heard a timid, "Mom?" It was Maria. She'd forgotten to tell me something. Busted!

It was even worse when Ben was in college. He'd only been there a few months when we moved several states away! That was a rough drive.  While it seems natural for a child to leave a parent, it felt bad to be the parent leaving a child. I think I arrived in Wyoming fairly dehydrated from all the crying.

You see, when you raise children you are always, ever so gradually, preparing them to be on their own. You dream for them to have wonderful adventures, to follow their own paths. With all that preparing them, though, I may have forgotten to prepare myself.

Sam, our youngest, is in college now. I didn't mind one bit that he chose to stay here in town to take his classes, but I know that it is likely we'll be separated by miles at some point. He, too, needs to follow his own path. That's what we want for all our children, right?

Seriously, though, my children will always be out there, walking off with a piece of my heart. As a matter of fact, the granddaughters do the same thing! It's not all bad, though. That means we can stay close, even when far apart.


Nicole said...

AWWWWWW!!!!! I'm in full blown sob and they haven't even left yet... but it's coming soon. Can I "pre" grieve?

Diane Jordan said...

Hi lovely lady.
It's been a long time no see you on my Tablescapes. I love coming over and read your sweet story's about your family. I see I do follow your blog hope you have a wonderful weekend with your sweet family.

Sue said...

Well, hi there Diane! So sorry to have been neglecting Tablescapes. I was thinking of you last week, though, when I bought some new dishes. I was imagining how you would use them in your tablescapes. I will head over right now to get myself inspired!

Anyone else want to see what we are talking about, follow me to and be amazed at what she can do!

Pam said...

I completely relate to this post. All but one of our children have grown up and all live in different States. I miss them so much that it hurts. Most of the time I am strong and fine, but I never realized that it would be like this. When the boys went off to college, I thought they would come back, but they didn't. When the girls got married, I didn't picture them moving to the other side of the United States, but they did. They are definitely my treasures, and I know they belong to the Lord... I continually place them back in His hands, and rejoice for those times when we are together. We have 6 grandchildren now; definitely a consolation prize. Loved your story; many words of wisdom.

Susan said...

Yes, Pam, perhaps we should have raised our kids a couple of generations ago when families often lived close together forever. However, I'm glad it isn't a century or two ago. When a lot of those kids left their parents they took off in covered wagons or such and they often did not get to see each other again. I am grateful for air travel!

Michelle said...

When Anne Marie married, she and Chad left immediately on their way to Florida. It was a long time before we saw them again. Jerry and I both wept or teared up at odd moments for days. I'm grateful to be living so close to them now! Jeremy left several times--to South Dakota at 17, to Texas a few years later, and, finally to Rhode Island. And, yep, a piece of my heart now lives there too.

Sue said...

I know! You get what I'm saying, I'm sure.

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