You are going to leave home. You are going to do it when you’re fresh off the boat of your teenage youth and alight with that kind of excitement that comes with new adventure. You might be a little bit sad or you might be too preoccupied with life alone. You are leaving for college, for another city, for a job, for life-in-the-present-tense.
And there is your mother who raised you for the past number of years. She’s waving at you from the front door, the airport terminal, the bus stop. She’s thinking about the baby she raised — no matter what, you will always be her baby — and the cuts she’s bandaged and the sore hands she’s kissed better. She’s thinking about you, all grown up and ready to take on the world. She is afraid for you because it is in her job description to be concerned, but she’ll stay silent because it’s also in her job description to let you grow and make your own mistakes.
Don’t leave her there on the porch or the airport seating. Don’t cast her over your shoulder like a shadow behind you to retrieve at your leisure. Text her to tell her you’re safe when you arrive at your new destination. Assure her again that you’re going to be just fine. Let her hear your voice to make the transition easier. Not for you, no. For her. For the woman who raise you and loved you and watches you go on without her. For the woman who sits at home and waits for summer holidays and long weekends so maybe she might catch a glimpse of you and cook you food you loved as a child.
Don’t ignore her phone calls. Don’t let the call ring through to voicemail because you’re getting ready for a night out with new friends. Answer it quickly and tell her you’re going out. And when you’re back, call her. Talk about nothing in particular. Discuss your father’s impending baldness. Whine about schoolwork and bad bosses. Let her hear about your problems even if there’s nothing she can do. She wants to hold your hand over the phone. She longs to stay involved with your life.
And when you’re home for however brief a period of time, don’t disappear off to see other familiar faces. Take your mother and notice the extra line on her forehead and the grey hairs around her hairline. Hold her steady when she stumbles at the curb of the footpath. You’ve grown older and that means she has too. Show her in actions that you reciprocate the care she spent into raising you. Remind her in words that you love her and you are so grateful she is there.