§ We came to this world to LIVE OUT LOUD!
When Our Kids Grow Up and Leave the Nest
My oldest daughter turned eighteen this past weekend. Adult(ish). To say that I’m a jumble of emotions would be the understatement of the year.
She NEVER slept. She was impossible to put to sleep and then up seven times a night her first year. She took one brief fifteen-minute nap every day, only outdoors in motion, while sucking my pinky.
I was exhausted. And completely overwhelmed with first-time motherhood.
I had her at thirty-one, after I had already savored the joys and freedom that come with a high-powered career, financial independence and non-stop international travel. Not to mention, getting to sleep as long as I want on the weekends.
During her first year, as the winter days brought less and less light, I would find myself pacing with her, back and forth, for hours trying to soothe her so she would stop crying. I was usually also in tears by the time my husband came home from work and found me, still in my pajamas at 6:30 pm.
I distinctly remember imagining a calendar and crossing off, with a big black X, each day that passed. I was counting down the days until she would turn eighteen. As a first-time mom, I imagined that it would take that long before I would get any sleep.
I also remember thinking that I would be fifty by the time she turned eighteen. That seemed so far into the future.
It’s hard to admit that I often wondered back then why I screwed up a perfectly good life to have a baby. “Perhaps I’m not cut out for this mothering thing,” I told myself in desperation. Everybody else’s babies seemed to sleep through the night and take long naps just fine.
I remember calling her “honey, sweet pea, love” – any term of endearment I could think of – to remind myself that this was my beloved baby. When she wasn’t screaming like a monster, she was really sweet and cute. I desperately wanted to hold on to that love that I had for her.
My heart bursts with pride and love when I think of her.
She is now an adult. And I’m turning fifty this year in December! I feel young still. Not at all how I thought I would feel at fifty back when she was a baby.
I know mothering is about giving them stable roots to know where they come from and wings so they can fly.
Why then is it so painful to let them go?
I take it a sign of the close connection we have built, the way our hearts are united.
I sit in all of the emotions – joy, pride, love, sadness, grief – and allow myself to feel them all. Knowing that this is all part of being a consciousness seeking mother and woman.
So what about you? Have your kids turned 18? Left the nest? How did you cope and thrive?
You know I love hearing from you so feel free to leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
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