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.