I felt introspective as we drove from San Diego to Seattle for our only child’s wedding. My mind drifted over the miles as I remembered gazing at our daughter’s infant face in the hospital after she was born. After years of infertility, it seemed like a dream that she was finally here. I held my breath during the long months until she was formally adopted, fearing that after years of disappointment she would never be my daughter forever. When the judge’s gavel came down in the adoption courtroom, my heart expanded so much I thought my chest would burst. I pledged to hold her tightly and keep her close to me.
As an only child, she was wrapped in a cocoon of love that she didn’t have to share with siblings. Each milestone was greeted with applause and fanfare befitting a beloved princess in the family. As we were told, by veteran parents, the seemingly endless days of infant hood passed all too quickly and the years passed in a blur of graduations, celebrations, holidays and all the stuff of parenthood. Until one day when we were packing her up for college, and I found myself wondering, “How had it happened?” How did the baby I held in my arms suddenly turn into the young woman in from of me who was letting go faster than I could hold on?
The college years turned into a job close to home, and I had a short time to relish the daydream of my adult daughter in my everyday life, before a job layoff and a career offer out of state disturbed the calm. As I encouraged the daughter of my heart to spread her wings, I physically felt the pain of separation. It felt like my child was being tugged from the arms that promised to hold her close all those years ago.
I eventually adjusted, as all mothers do, to our new reality as I (frequently:) visited our urban child and navigated our new long distance relationship. But, over the past four years I never really acknowledged to myself that I was harboring the tiny hope that she would return home after her out of state adventure. We would resume my daydream of living close to each other…maybe next door ? (Hey, I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s my daydream!)
But, as we drove to her wedding in Seattle, I finally acknowledged what I’ve known all along. She is not coming home. She has built her life in a state far away. She is starting her own family, and I need to loosen the heartstrings that connect us. While we will always stay connected, her life is now on a separate path.
My heart felt heavy and full at the same time as we passed the miles on the way to the wedding. I felt a sense of loss as well as a sense of expanding love for our adult daughter and soon to be son in law.
The miles in the car seemed like a metaphor for the years that have passed all too quickly. The passage of time has been all too evident, as I’ve watched my child mature into an adult and start her own life.
On the wedding trip I felt myself consciously loosen my grip on my daughter’s life to allow her the freedom to forge her own path, but my fingers remained,and will remain, outstretched over the miles, ready to catch her at a moment’s notice. No matter how far the distance, we will always be connected. Such is the bond of a mother and child. She is forever in my heart.
Hoping your heart is full this holiday season,