I recently spent a few days at home with my family. For me that time always passes by at lightning speed. I find such solace and peace and comfort in my childhood home. Its smell alone is enough to calm me and give me a sense of security I have yet to find elsewhere in this world. But the best part of being home is being able to see my best friend, my mom. I am fortunate to have always had a wonderful, strong relationship with my mom. She has been there for me through thick and thin and has always been my biggest advocate. She is the only person who knows me better than I know myself. She listens to my voice and can sense when something is wrong even before I have a chance to break down and cry. She feels all my feels. Her heart bleeds when I’m sad, celebrates when I’m happy, and is always there to give me a vote of confidence and reassure me that everything is going to be okay when waves of uncertainty flood my brain.
I can vividly remember the day she dropped me off at college. After a long day of unpacking and getting settled into my dorm room, it was finally time for the big goodbye. I just stood there and for the first time in my life I felt alone. There were hundreds of students and families surrounding me and although I had been counting the days until I could escape the doldrums of my hometown, an overwhelming sense of fear consumed my insides. Tears filled my eyes and I asked my mom, ’What now?’ the same way I had as a little girl. I was looking for direction. For guidance. And that’s when it hit me. I was all grown up. No one, not even my mom who had given me life and watched me grow and dance and sing and play dress up and make-believe and who sat with me for hours on end helping me to study and learn things like manners and respect and the importance of family could tell me how to find my way in this strange new place. ‘You’ll figure it out,’ she said simply. And she was right. I did figure it out. It was at that moment that my mom gave me one of the greatest gifts in the world: self-discovery. And because of that I learned to be a brave, confident, and independent woman.
My parents visited often throughout my four years of college and I came home as much as my demanding internships and course load would allow. And with each passing visit, my mom watched me grow older and wiser. She watched me make mistakes and learn from them, only soliciting her 2 cents when called upon, whether 2pm or 2am.
After college I moved home for a few years to finish graduate school and was lucky enough to secure a teaching position in my mom’s school district. This meant I had the luxury of seeing my mom on regular basis once again. I loved sharing our lunch hours together and spending nights at home catching up on our favorite reality shows, eating frozen yogurt, and talking about our plans for the future.
Years came to pass. I completed my graduate degree and continued to work on a per diem basis with no promise of permanent teaching gig in my foreseeable future. My six-year relationship came to an end and I yearned for a change. With my family’s support and blessing, I packed up my bags and moved to NYC to start a brand new chapter in my life.
On the day the movers came, I had a sudden flashback to that first day of college. Only this time I didn’t feel that overwhelming fear I had felt years ago, standing amongst the hoards of college freshman that seemed so self-assured at the time. I didn’t need my mom to point me in the right direction. I had already been given the freedom to decide for myself and I trusted my instincts and took comfort in knowing she would only be a phone call away.
Point is, no matter how old I get or how much knowledge and wisdom I gain, saying goodbye, if only for a short time, will never get any easier. When my nanny and poppa were alive, my mom and I would make frequent trips to visit them at their winter home in Delray Beach. And every year when our visit ended, mom and nanny would spend what felt like forever hugging and crying before we boarded our plane. And I always wondered why. After all, your mom will always be there, I used to think.
And now, as an adult, I realize why my mom held on so tight. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Your mom won’t live until 200 like she promised you when you were little. And when the time comes that you can no longer hold onto her, you’ll hold onto the precious memories you shared and all of the gifts she selflessly gave you so that you could live a prosperous and meaningful life free from her loving grip that was so hard to let go.