Being a parent is arguably the most difficult job one will ever have in life. There’s no manual to guide you through the process, no job description to give you clarity. You just have to navigate your way through the craziness the best that you can and pray to God that you don’t screw your kids up too much! I have been negotiating my way through parenthood for over twenty years now and I wish I could say that I have it all figured out, but I would be lying to you. Sure, this stage of parenting is easier and more enjoyable (most days!) than the toddler stage, but it sure isn’t a cake walk. It’s tough. It’s painful. It’s frustrating. I’ve had my feelings hurt as a parent more in the last few years than in the 17 years prior. I’ve cried. I’ve been angry. And we’ve fought. Oh, how we have fought.
Yesterday I arrived home to a quiet house with rooms that were a little emptier than they had been when I left the house in the morning. She was gone. Madelyn had taken most of her stuff and headed back to school two weeks early. It was the responsible thing to do. I knew it was happening. And some days, I admit, I was eagerly anticipating it (believe me, she was too!). But when I walked into our house, a sadness washed over me. This summer was the last summer that she was planning to come home. And it’s over. Two and half months slipped by in what felt like a blink of an eye. As I sit here right now I can’t help but to feel like I didn’t see her enough. We didn’t talk enough. We didn’t laugh enough.
We fought too much. Sure, it’s what mothers and daughters do, right? But we did it too much. Now, don’t misunderstand. We weren’t yelling and screaming at each other. We just didn’t communicate well most of the summer. It took me some time to really understand what was happening. I was trying to hold onto her and she was trying to spread her wings. That, my friends, is quite a delicate dance. Of course I want to see her grow, mature, make lifelong friendships, all of the stuff that comes with being an adult. But this growth has felt like it is happening at my expense. Silly thought? Perhaps. Irrational? Likely. But it’s how I have felt.
However, when I really think about it, I asked for this to happen. I am getting exactly what I wanted. Since the day Madelyn was born, I prayed that she would be strong. And loving. Lovable. Courageous. Adventurous. Forgiving. Independent. Empathetic. And so much more. And she is all of those things. She is amazing. She is the most forgiving person I know in this world. She extends forgiveness when others would hold onto bitterness and anger. And believe me, I wouldn’t blame her in some cases. She is so much more than I ever could have hoped she would be. She is a better person than I am and I am okay with that. It is what most parents want for their children. Or it should be.
So, yeah, I get my feelings hurt sometimes when I feel disconnected from her life and some of the things she has going on. I will admit that freely. I think most parents would say they experience similar feelings, if they are honest with themselves. It’s hard to let go. It hurts. It’s scary, even. But I hope that Madelyn knows that the reason it’s so hard to let go is because I love her so much.
Our lives have changed so much in the last two years and letting go is just another part of that change. I could sit and cry about it. And I have. Or I could choose to embrace the next chapter in our lives as mother and daughter. It’s going to be different. It’s going to take some navigating. But I have a feeling that it’s going to be pretty incredible.