“Eighteen years had come and gone,” Carrie Underwood filled the room. I had resorted to the stash of songs I had burned to disc. My treasured IPod, a gift from my oldest brother a few years back, had gone on the fritz. So when I prepared for my treadmill walk to a more fit body, mind and soul, I couldn’t just pop the IPod in the dock and rock out to the same old playlists. It had become a habit to go with my exercise ritual.
Being forced to step out of my routine, I had reached in the drawer and popped in an old CD. As I sweated and climbed, ran and trudged, I sang along and reminisced about the songs and the era from which they had originated. As I cooled down, I joined Carrie, as she sang about my life. The life of kids moving away and moms doing what they can from so far away. And most of all, the hope that we will not be forgotten. Tears streamed down my face. I wondered, will it ever end? Will I ever stop missing my kids?
My son married a couple of years ago and lives a couple of hours away. His life is about his wife, his two step-kids, his dog, his job, his friends. Although I am sure he would be here every weekend if that fit in his life, his commitment is elsewhere now. He has football games and soccer games, and I know the struggle that goes with being there for your kids and still maintaining some autonomy. I see him living his life just like we lived ours, pretty much, anyway. I relish our visits and look forward to the times we get to be together and rekindle the past.
This summer, my daughter, who is so unbelievably close to thirty years old, got married. It has been a big change in her life and who she is. And in the subtlest of ways, it has affected who she and I are together now. My place in her life has changed. The change is not obvious to anyone, I am sure, except to me, but when we visited last, I sensed a difference in the energy present. I realized there had been a release. A letting go.
Although when I think of it, I mourn the loss of the past, I also am grateful that things seem to be moving into the healthy space that they are supposed to. I would never want my children to hang onto the past and try to be there for me instead of moving on in their own lives. And in their moving forward, I find the freedom to move into the next phase of my life, as well.
I still fight the urge to tell them to fill their gas tanks before they leave town, but my husband has been great in teaching me to let them be the adults that they are, and that includes letting them make their own choices, make their own mistakes, and then letting them take responsibility for their actions – which at the smallest end of things may be running out of gas if they choose not to fill up before hitting the road.
My kids know I will always be there for them. They know that their happiness is one of the most important things in my life. But this summer, it seems, has been about moving into the next phase of our lives. Separate. Apart. Yet supported from afar by the silent bond that one can only feel. It is the bond of love set free.
In the song, the mother’s last reminder to her daughter leaving home is, “Don’t forget to remember me.” I can imagine saying the same thing, or at least thinking it, years ago as my children left home. And sometimes, I admit, it is still a pretty strong sentiment. Yet I know that no matter how much time passes between visits, we carry each other in the safest place of our hearts. There is no such thing as forgetting or even remembering. It is a constant that needs no reminding. Our love is like that. And we are so blessed!