My house was still on the eve of Anna’s first day of senior year. My stiff upper lip was fatigued and faltering. The mantra in my mind that I would see her tomorrow was of little comfort. The calendar was not my friend as this night before the start of high school landed on a “dad day.” This last “first day” was a milestone marker on her life path and I desperately wanted to share with her in the avalanche of emotion that was surely falling over both of us.
I’ve been letting go of her since the day she left my womb on that rainy April that seems like just yesterday. You would think after seventeen years I would pretty much be a pro. Instead, I feel like a novice notably deficient in perspective and wisdom. My age-old “being divorced” irritations rise too quickly to the surface for me to stop the boiling over into “it’s not fair” and “if onlys.”
I want to share in the nerves, the excitement, the jitters, and the prepping for this sentimental day. I feel “less than” as a mom knowing that I won’t be with her in the morning to send her off on this day with a tight hug and big smile. I take a deep breath and recall the numerous times in the last decade that I have missed what I perceived to be important moments of my daughters. A handful of Christmas mornings, first days of school, last days of school, learning to ride a bike, skiing for the first time, days they went home to their dad’s exuberant with some news of the day and an equal number of days they went home with heartaches, and it wasn’t to my house. My daughters don’t seem to remember, but I do.
How many times have I fought this battle around my worthiness as a parent? How many times have I scrolled through my social media feeds in a rotten state of comparison letting all the joy thieves completely take over? How many times have I moped, ranted, stewed, and succumbed to the fullness of these emotions? Too many to count. And yet I know better. Right?
My phone starts to vibrate with a FaceTime call. Anna. She rushes to the point. “Mom, here are the outfit choices for tomorrow. What do you think? Do you like the shirt? Shorts or jeans? Do these shoes look good? Should I curl or straighten my hair? MOM, it is my first day of senior year!!!! Mom it is the start of the ending. I need to cry…” and on she went sharing with me all that I needed to hear. Giving me exactly what I needed – to know that no matter where I am – I am always her mom and never letting go.