As a parent I have felt lots of emotions over the years. From frustrating nights with sick babies to the highs and lows of the first day of school, the last day of school, a good day at school and a bad day at school. And so many firsts. The first step, the first field trip, the first sleepover, the first date and the first breakup.
I have held my daughter’s hand through things that could make you crumble and I have wept with overwhelming joy at the sight of my grandson coming into this physical world.
We navigate the many emotions that can come in a 24 hour period…that’s what we do. We have a point of reference for pretty much everything they go through, because we too were once going through the same things. Plus, there are gazillions of parenting books and opinions out there to help us get through the day to day. Right?
The “letting go” as parents happens organically and slowly over the course of their lifetime. The above lists are all great examples of letting go and allowing life. After our children move out they attend college or begin work usually somewhere close to home. We help them move and get settled in. We walk the campus or drive the neighborhood to get acquainted with their new surroundings. That point of reference thing. Phone calls, texts or dinner are still possibilities. The day to day changes slightly. Over this past year I have experienced a new first as a parent….a shift.
A year ago our son, Christian Michael Jeremiah Jerry, joined the Navy. He departed the beginning of June 2015 and headed to Chicago. I had never seen the Naval Training Center and I have never been to boot camp. My husband has. That helped. Still there were nights in my big comfy bed I pictured him rigid in his little cot tired from the day and I would cry. Do they really know how special he is?
The 12 weeks passed and we were able to travel to Chicago. We gathered Katie from O’Hare and watched our guy graduate. He had a huge role in graduation and was one of 5 award winners out of 700 something Sailors. I know….. They did see how special he is.
There were a few more weeks of schooling and then he was off to San Diego. He was able to come home for a minute in between. Those airport boarding moments are the hardest goodbyes. He was set to deploy in February 2016 and was able to come home again for about 60 hours. When he left here he flew to Virginia to say goodbye to Katie, his precious person. In the short 5 days he was able to spend with her he proposed and they were married. We weren’t able to be there. Logistics. Timing.
Suddenly there were all these life changes that had everything to do with him and nothing to do with me!!!! My core was rocked a bit. I couldn’t picture any of it. Here I had been a part of so much and watched so much…a lifetime….and now……..nothing. I struggled for a bit with how I felt. The joy that was bursting from my heart was a high I had never felt before. I love Katie!! I know that I know that I know she is perfect for Christian and Christian for her. I know the life they are making together was written in the stars and the sky is the limit…ALL of that….but nothing. I was there for none of it. Of course in my heart I was there. They sent me pictures. They called me as soon as the ceremony was over so we could dance and laugh and cry together. Here they were having these HUGE life moments and I’m sweeping hair and going to the grocery store.
A few weeks later he boarded an amphibious warship and sailed away somewhere. Sure he has been places without his momma. Five years ago he and one of his buddies flew into Argentina and hiked and drank their way north to Columbia and had an amazing 5 week adventure.
But he came home……
When he left a year ago it was different. I know he will be back, but only for a visit…he will never live here again. Now I get emails and a phone call…occasionally Most communication comes through Katie, our daughter in law. I am so thankful for her generosity in sharing news of our son.
A shift has happened. Shifts aren’t bad…..they’re just…..shifts, adjustments. Katie is wonderful to call and text and update me on EVERYTHING! I love the relationship I have with her. I love the beautiful and sincere way she loves my buddy, but that shift. It felt like a disconnect. The rational part of my brain was so on board. Overjoyed!!! But my heart….this was different.
That shift caused a fissure that over this last year has slowly began to fill with confidence and love and appreciation for my son and his journey. It still catches in my throat from time to time. There are still moments I sit straight up in bed at 3 AM sucking air…..where is he? what just happened? Then I lay down, hold him in my heart and I send Katie all the love I have….for her heart, for her covering, for her protection.
It has taken a bit for me to become comfortable with the shift. I haven’t lost anything. I have gained. If I can’t hear straight from Christian then I want to hear from the one whose voice fills with joy at the mention of his name. The shift isn’t about breaking away, it’s about my heart growing bigger.