Aidan Zielske in the mountains of San Salvador, March 2012.
I told you last week that my girl, my first-born and only daughter, was heading out for a mission trip to El Salvador with our church and that Dan and I would not be accompanying her on this journey.
I posted a baby photo of her and made light of the fact that I would be curling up into a ball until her return.
Funny. I didn't think I would actually want to do that.
Aidan is still on her trip as I post this, not due to return until Wednesday night. I didn't expect to be refreshing the Flight Tracker screen every hour on the hour last week, waiting to see that yes, her next flight had taken off, or that yes, her last flight had landed.
I posted to Facebook a few times during the day as well, this being one of them:
At the time, I was being flippant, but as the days have gone on, I have been overwhelmed at the depth of this missing her.
I know that one of my jobs is to raise children who will be able to leave this nest and find their own ways in the world. Theoretically, I do get this.
You don't really think much about this, however, when you decide to go off the pill in 1995 because suddenly you've had a change of heart in your previous, "I'm not having kids" position and figure, "What the hell? Let's DO this!"
I'm not going to lie to you. I was not the best mother in the early years of my childrens' lives. I'm not just saying that for dramatic effect either. I'm saying that as a direct result of doing therapy for the past few years and because I have learned a lot about who I am, who I was and how I operated in the world.
I was so much crabbier. So much more focused on imposing me onto who I thought they should be at times. I was so much more self absorbed than I should have been.
And as a result, it limited my ability to truly see my children.
aaww Cathy, you have me crying over here, dang it!! LOVE LOVE THIS AND IT’S HOW I HAVE FELT FOR MY FIRST BABY ALREADY 22 AND AM FEELING FOR MY 15 YEAR OLD. YOU NEVER GET READY TO TOTALLY LET GO OF THEM. YOU ARE A GREAT MOM AND SHE IS A GREAT KID, ENJOY ALL THESE MOMENTS WITH HER!!!
I LOVED THIS AND THE WAY YOUR WRITE CATHY!!
Hoping time flies fast till Wedsnesday!!
Missy K says
Cathy, I love this. My kids are a bit younger than yours, but I have felt the beginnings of these pangs– the mystery of how to live fully in it now, even as we will ease out of this phase of life.
May I recommend reading Katrina Kenison’s Gift of an Ordinary Day? (http://www.katrinakenison.com/) It is about this very stage you’re in, about this privilege of watching our children become, rather than thinking we can control the outcome.
I think the book would be like someone across the table saying, “I’ve been there.” and “Me, too!”
For now, wishing quickly passing hours to Wednesday night, and good stories from Aidan’s adventure.
By Sharing this humbling human-ness with us you are opening our eyes. Opening our eyes to being better mothers right now, whatever stage we are at with our children. For me I must say I am thankful to be able to gleam into the future and pause to think differently about the things that seem like a ‘big deal’ now. In fact they are sometimes just petty annoyances that don’t really warrant wasting precious time and energy when the focus should be on capturing and cherishing the positive every day moments that won’t always be there. 🙂
Thank you. There can never be enough of these reminders.
For you right now all I can say is think of that incredible giddy feeling you will have just before you clap eyes on her at the airport. You won’t know whether to shout out or cry and it will take all you have in you to hold back the excitement of the moment and later, in a quiet moment think of how proud she will feel to have a mother that trusted her enough to allow her the experience and adventure.
Shawna ~ North Olmsted, OH says
My only son will be 4 this May. Unfortunately, I lost my magic wand and the pause this moment in life button!!!
Relish in the beautiful woman that you created and raised…how your heart must swell with pride for her. Hugs to you till Wednesday!
Kendra B says
I’m totally crying over this!! You’ve got great kids, so obviously even when you thought you weren’t, you were doing something right LOL Here’s wishing time goes very quickly for you!! (side note: don’t forget mom’s who have kids that because of special needs will never leave the nest 🙂
Cathy I wondered if you knew about the flight tracking programs…I should have known:) I tracked my son to England last year and my daughter to Australia last summer on Flight Aware and let’s just say they were LONG days (especially when the flight to England just “disappeared” from the screen for 5 minutes!).
For me, watching them grow and move on (the baby girl either leaves for the Air Force or Naval Academy in June or college in the fall and the son is already in college) is a kind of pain I have never experienced. It is the end of a phase of my life that I like and I’m not quite ready for it to be over. I know I am supposed to be grateful that they are young, healthy, moving forward (yada, yada, yada) but I miss it. I see my friends who have done this and I know this grief will pass but it is grief nonetheless. Being their mother is the greatest honor of my life and I just miss the intensity of it some days. No words of wisdom or comfort here, just thought I would let you know I’m swimming in the same pool with you, so to speak:) Happy tracking on Wednesday!
thanks, Dawn. : )
amy b. says
Love this, Cathy… I’m right there with you in the letting go stages. I always enjoy your perspective
I may have to get that. Isnt there a clip on the web of her reading from it? I think Ive seen it and holy crap, I bawled and that was not recently! : )
Thanks, Petra. I always need to keep reminding myself. Always.
Kendra, of all moms, I should never forget them. Two of my closest friends have children with special needs. I think im going to update this post.
Yes, the flight tracker. Never have i used it to this extent! : )
Cathy, I can’t even begin to tell you how you have moved and motivated me by you beautiful post. I needed that. Thank you.
This was so beautifully written, Cathy. I’m actually a bit teary-eyed! I have a daughter who is a sophomore in college…I miss her every.single.minute. I know that we as parents have to let go but I have to tell you, it doesn’t get any easier. I worry about her constantly–is she eating properly, is she safe walking from her car to her apartment, is she too stressed…and the list goes on and on. I also have a son who is a sophomore in high school. I can’t even begin to think about his high school graduation, a mere two years away. I know I will be a blubbering mess when he leaves for college because I don’t have any more babies to love, to nurture and to let go.
Cathy, Beautiful post. All choked up here, as I prepare to waltz out the door for a road trip with my four girls. So want to do better, to laugh more and crab less. I’ve gotten sooo much more patient as the years go on, so I can relate to your inspired post. Just need to continue to be the mom they need me to be when the tensions rise a tad. I’m sure both of your kids will tell you how much they love having you as their mom. I know for a fact, that Aidan feels your love all the way down south (and isn’t that an AMAZING photo of her? didn’t your heart just burst to see her glowing, in that beautiful spot of earth?). Best wishes until Wednesday, finally, gets here and you give her that hug.
judy in huntsville - al says
But now you DO – and they seem to be exceptional kids! Letting our kids go is one of the hardest things ever!![Ours are 22 and 25 now.] But knowing you’ve done your best to prepare them for life in this world is a great comfort – and I always told my dad that I don’t want a 40 year old man living with me when I’m 70 – lol – [I work in adult protective services and have seen far too many of these families who couldn’t let tier kids go — and it seldom turns out good…]We all have regrets as parents – but I believe we’ve gotta look forward – not back – you’re doing a great job with them!!
Missy K says
Yes– I think so– the book has been out for a bit.
I loved the book in that I felt she was not saccharine-sweet– she talked about all the emotions involved in children becoming adults- the warm-fuzzy and the not-so-much. And no easy answers either.
I think you’d love it, but perhaps when your girl is back home? 🙂
HI Cathy! I am sending you vibes and cyber hugs! I think one of the reasons this is hitting so hard is that you ARE already thinking about and preparing yourself for a bigger leaving down the road. From my experience, I can say that doing this now will make that leaving a little (or maybe a lot easier). My son is in his first year of college at the school that turned out to be the furthest of his choices from home. It is sad for me every time he leaves (Thanksgiving, Christmas Break, Spring Break) but it is OK. He is happy. I know it would be so much worse if he weren’t happy. And then, there is texting. And for you, probably the phone. The letting go is hard, but I think you are preparing to do it beautifully.
Jacob made a big decision about a summer program away from home the year before he left for real. That turned out to be SURPRISINGLY hard for me (a will share the messy details if you want). In retrospect, I think it was a lot about psychological preparation for the “real” leaving, which turned out to be somehow easier than I thought.
So vibes and hugs and admiration for the great job you are doing as Aidan’s mom. Wednesday is around the corner.
Thank you for sharing this. : ) I’m sending my oldest on her first missions trip in May (she’s 8 and my husband/Daddy is going with her so it helps a bit). : ) But I so appreciate that quote and your perspective because I am in the stage of having little people at my feet all the day long. I have one shot at this and I want to do it well.
Can’t wait to hear about Aidan’s trip when she gets back (if she wants to share). : )
My heart really did do a leap when I saw that photo, knowing she was there and she was okay.
Tears in my eyes, Cathy. Loved this post. My oldest son turns 15 this week and I hear what you’re saying. I, too, look back and think I could have done better. Sometimes I think I was too focused on what others thought than I should have been. They grow so fast. Want to just enjoy and be the best mother I can be for them now. I want to do better, too.
: ) Thanks Judy. Thats a good perspective!
Andi Sexton says
Look at that gorgeous smile on Aidan’s face! She is happy! And she is comfortable in her own skin (as we have learned over the years from all your stories). You are doing a great job! How wonderful that she can go out into the world without fear, and know she has a loving home to run back to. Some kids don’t have that opportunity, regardless of their age. She will do great things – because of you (and Dan!).
Cathy, I could have written your post, word for word. (Except I went off the pill a year later!) But, I, too made those same mistakes in my kids early childhood, and I regret it. My kids are so awesome, and now that they’re 11 and 14, I am realizing I need to make every moment count! I don’t know how they grew up without me knowing, but they did! As a card carrying member of the “less crabby” club, I enjoy them so much — and am humbled by their knowledge, talents and personalities on a daily basis!
Such an honest post, Cathy. And one that lots of us can identify with. My daughter is 15 in two months, and as she starts thinking about university and her life plans, I can’t help but wish she could be with me for so much longer.
My amazing, beautiful, clever, funny, wise, silly, loving and talented child is the best gift I have ever been given, and I’m not quite ready to give her back to the world just yet…but how lucky will the world be to have our fabulous kids doing great things?!
Lisa M. says
What a beautiful post. I couldn’t have said it better myself, as my ‘little girl’ is a Jr. this year & I find myself in the midst of your journey. Some days, I can actually feel my heart ‘ache’ thinking about her going off to college. Have I said everything I’ve needed to say to her? Have I taught her everything I’ve needed to teach? Have I done a ‘good enough’ job to prepare her for what lies ahead? It’s a bittersweet time which, I’ve found, requires a lot of Kleenex & therapy. You are not alone.
Many thanks to Missy K for her recommendation.
Her clip does make you weep – and I read her book. I connected with it a lot because of some shared experiences, but I have to say, it got a little bit stretched out at the end. Just my opinion. Definitely worth the read – just maybe skim some slower bits…
Sara Mangan says
“I guess what I’m connecting to is the pain of the years when I could have been doing so much more as a mother, but also to the gratitude of being so very thankful for the time I still have in the here and now to give them everything that I can, knowing what I know now.”
I needed the above message, Cathy. My baby is going to kindergarten next year and I have been spending too much time feeling sad and thinking of all the things I haven’t done. You are right!!! I still do have TIME to give her and my other girls everything I can.
ps- I love that picture of Aidan.
Yes — all true.
But …. doesn’t that picture make you PROUD!!! ???
and a little humble??
There are days that I struggle as we go through these tween years, wishing that things were different. I know that I only have my girl under my roof for 6 short years. Thanks for sharing this. You mean there’s hope for crabby moms everywhere? I need to learn more about that….
I think the picture of Aidan in El Salvador on her own, without parents, says a lot about your parenting. I’m sure she’s a wonderful young woman and I’m also sure you and Dan have done an incredible job so far. You should be proud!
Kim K says
I am like you…standing on that precipice. My son is 15 and will be heading to France for two weeks in June. Two weeks! How will I manage? He left his phone behind on an overnight trip to the state math tournament and I was a mess not being able to contact him. This will be two weeks with no phone. Before you know it…he’s off to college! I know you know. This is our goal as parents – to have our children be independent, successful, and productive. I just didn’t realize it would be so hard to let them do just that! Thanks for your posts on this subject. (ps-I’ve already informed the chaperone that I’d like at least one cool shot of my boy doing something amazing in France, like the photo you received of Aidan…what a gift!)
I can only echo everyone else’s sentiments. I am a tearful mess here at my desk…
Aidan really is radiating in that picture. She and Cole are dynamic, creative, smart people. They have earned those titles themselves, but they have been infused with greatness from you and Dan.
It’s funny isn’t it that as we age, see things differently? I remember my Mom often saying she had regrets about things she did or didn’t do when raising my brothers and me. I used to get frustrated with her because I thought she was dwelling too much on negative stuff. Funny, I get it now,a little bit, because I, too, find myself thinking about how I might have done this or that differently, or how I wish I’d prepared them for this or that better… We want so much for our kids to be whole, healthy people in every way possible…
LOVE checking in on your blog, Cathy. Can’t wait to hear about the reunion.
ana roat says
I bet if you asked Aidan she would say that without the love and support of her mom she wouldn’t have been able to make this trip. You see Cathy, to her you have always been the best mom because you are HER mom.
It’s ok to take a little bow…giving thanks to GOD for the incredible gift of motherhood and although they leave our homes they never leave our hearts.
jen kinkade says
I feel your pains and pangs. My oldest left the nest last year and it was like losing a piece of my heart, kinda.
She is also on her own mission trip in Haiti this week, so I totally get the being so far away out of the safety of my arms. The comforting fact is I KNOW she is a grounded kid with a good head on her shoulders–leaving me to worry a little less. She is being blessed by the children she is in contact with and her heart is being changed as well…it’s a good thing. I can only imagine something of the same magnitude is happening with your girl. 🙂
I relate so much with the crabby parenting in the early years as well; wishing that I could be who I am now for them back then. But then, maybe I am who I am today because of who I was then…ya know?
Just as we watch our kids grow and change and mature, we do as well. That, my friend, gives me hope!! 🙂
Thinking of you and sending you a big virtual HUG!!
Kirsten J says
Yep. My big boy is 21 and I’m finally getting used to the revolving door of college (he’s only 40 minutes away….), but just the other day he said something like “when I move out and get a place of my own, you’ll need to fill my freezer with spaghetti sauce”. And my heart skipped a beat. MOVE OUT?!? I’m so happy I have a 9 year gap between my kids. I get to soak her up and really appreciate. You’ve done the best you could, and now you know better. Aidan will always come home. And you two will be best of friends.
Leanne in CA says
Ok, tears here in CA also. Love reading the comments as well. Your beautiful daughter will be home before you know it. And think of the special time you’ve been able to spend with Cole. I’m alittle behind you on kids leaving the nest soon, but it will be tough when I get there also. Take care and have a fabulous day!!
Tammy M. says
Cathy girl ~ I am feeling your pain…my oldest just turned 15 a couple weeks ago and I stood there looking at him..or shall I say up at him (he’s 6’2″) and wondering, “Where the bloody heck did the last 15 years go??” And ever since that thought I have been plagued with this tinge of sadness…my baby will be leaving me soon…wait…my baby will be driving next fall…heaven help us!! I am overwhelmed with emotion because my 13 year old is becoming such a confident young man and my youngest firecracker will soon be in double digits and is becoming so fiercely independent. It’s the bittersweet plight of being a mom…our job is to love them and lead them in the right direction…but eventually, if we are good mom’s, we eventually have to let them fly…and trust me, I’m like you…I am dreading that day with all my being. So in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of the few fleeting years I have left with them and celebrate with them their achievements and you know what…I’ll probably still pick them up and dust them off and kiss their boo-boos when they fall…even if it does embarrass them…lol!! Just know Cathy you are not on this road alone…hugs to you!
Beth H says
So, so true Ana
Beth H says
Thank you for being so real as usual. I can totally relate to this post. My daughter is 12 and begged me to go to sleep-away camp at age 8 so I reluctantly let her. I totally moped around the house for those 2 weeks — just ask my husband. It was such a strange feeling because in some ways I enjoyed my freedom and having her gone for a couple of weeks was sort of relaxing, but at the same time I could NOT stop thinking about how awful it was going to be when she left “for good” and went off to college. It was just a horrible feeling. Since then she’s gone to the same camp every Summer for 4 weeks! I only get to see her for Mom’s weekend in the middle. I do handle her absence better now, but it’ still tough. What makes it SO much easier is hearing her talk about how much she loves it, and seeing how it has helped my only child become so much more independent and capable. We can do this!
This is beautifully written and felt. As a mother of 5 (and only one left at home) and 23 years of homeschooling these kids, I think a mom never feels like she did “enough.” When each of my children have left home I had the feeling of “WAIT! I’m not done!” haha! But the blessing in all this? We are ALWAYS their mother. They will ALWAYS be our children. Nothing can change that. It is such a blessing to be a mom.
Kelli W says
I’ve got tears in my eyes as well, even though mine are only 8 and 5. The fact that you care so much proves what a good mother you are. I strive every day to be a good mother (having a not so good experience in my own childhood) and I wonder everyday if I’m doing good enough and if they are going to grow up and still want to be around me 🙂
Darcie Naylor says
I am the mother of four children – 31, 28, 24, and 19. The youngest is still at home, but really, how much influence do we have on our 19 year old children? Like you, there are times when I mourn the mother that I was when my oldest three were little. I had them starting at the age of 20 and I was simply not ready emotionally to be a mother. I didn’t give them all of myself and I look back now and want a do over. Don’t get me wrong – there are definately such fun times to be happy about, but a do over would be such a blessing because their lives (and mine) would be so much richer if I were more ready to be a mother. But such is life. The three of them are off on their own, living their lives and doing a good job of it for the most part. They turned out in spite of me. The jury is still out on my youngest, but at 32 I was much more mature and ready to be a mom. I don’t have nearly as much regret with how I’ve been with him.
Thanks Cathy for always being so honest in your sharing. I’ve been following you through the scrapbook industry for years and you just keep getting better. In fact, I learn so much about myself just from reading your blog.
Hang in there – she’ll be home soon!
Amen, Jules. Amen.
Myra, theres always hope to get the to bottom of how we handle pain, anger and frustration. Its not easy, but theres always a chance to learn.
I gots tears Cathy. That was so beautiful!
Yes, ask for the photo. In that way, youll at least get the visual confirmation that he is there and well. : )
Thanks, Mary. : )
Thanks, Jen. : )
Indeed it is, Shauna.
Thanks for that comment, Darcie. : )
Thanks Cathy for the post this morning. I, too, am having a hard time letting go/preparing to let go – dd19, ds-17.
This part, especially, spoke to me: “I’m not going to lie to you…”
I have felt guilty about that for years. Finally, because of an accident my son was in when he was 7, I went into therapy and learned a lot of the same lessons you have learned. I’m still far from perfect but feeling much better about myself and my parenting skills.
Thanks again for sharing Cathy and letting us know we, who feel/done similiar, aren’t the only ones! Dori
Bea Medwecky says
Cathy, what a well written and heartfelt post. The transition from full time mom to grown-up children mom is not an easy one. But there are great things about not having children at home. Trust me on that. When I read the part about you not being a good mother when your children were smaller I thought about Ayelet Waldman and her book Bad Mother. If you have not read it, do. What I remember most about it is that in our society a good mother needs to be beautiful, fit, ALWAYS puts her children’s needs over her own, and is perfect in EVERY way. What does it take to be a good father? Show up to a few soccer games. Here is link http://www.ayeletwaldman.com/books/bad.html
Your daughter looks radiant in thet photo.
Ditto what everything everyone else says (as I sit here awash in tears!).
You really need to write a book Cathy. You have a gift.
Big hot tears and big warm love to you.
Mmm. Just saw your Tweet. Thanks, love. I have been overwhelmed with emotion since she left. All sorts of things are cropping up, physically, mentally.
So beautifully said, Cathy! And I love the Maya Angelou quote too. That and therapy.
I have always said we should have more training before we get into motherhood. Time goes way too fast. I love your post and can so identify with you. Both my children are under their own roofs, my daughter is in the same city, but my son is many miles away in college. I see my daughter several times a week, but some days I just “ache” for a hug from my son. I am tearing up as I write this. It doesn’t get any easier.
Your honest sharing of emotions and thoughts touches so many of us, and challenges us to be more aware of our own emotions and thoughts. Thanks for your authenticity; it takes a lot of courage to share yourself with all of us. We are blessed.
Thank you for sharing this. I was not a very good mom to my son at the beginning since I had too many issues of my own. But I did the best I could, and my son is now a wonderful young man, with a college degree and a great job. He is getting married in July and giving me a wonderful daughter. The forgiveness part is the hardest thing for me, forgiving myself. And reminding myself that despite the rocky start, I really did do a good job of parenting him.
lynne moore says
wow. hmm. way to start me thinking this monday morning. it seems o long ago that i had to be pushed to be a “better mom” and more vocal advocate for my son in school… and now i am struggling to let my almost 20 year old talk to the car repair guys by himself. he knows more about it than i do anyway. (really i am only there to give the guy a ride home.)
Donna Tullis says
thanks Mrs. Z….mascara…is a TOTAL MESS! i get EVERY word…and no one could have written any better than you. i feel the same way without my girl, its like the sun is hiding behind a cloud with her gone. Enjoy the stories that Little Miss Z will bring home from her adventure, she really is a stunning girl, much like her mom!
Try all that AND deal with a 16 year old “cool” son who wouldn’t even hug me goodbye or hello after being gone for a week. Brat!
I think you posted it here once, Cathy. Am I crazy, or did that really happen?
Also teary, here. I think we all wish we were more patient when our kids were younger, and wish for a do-over. I know I do sometimes. But, i also think we are hard on ourselves. Because, anyone’s patience will wear thin sometimes when little ones are at your feet all day long. Anyway, that is very good advice that I would do well to take myself, because i beat myself up about it all the time.
There were parts of this post that were almost identical to something I wrote recently when I was the one traveling overseas. I had one son with me, and one at home with my husband. With all the worry of planning the trip and taking off of work, I was totally caught off guard about how lost and lonely I felt leaving half my family so far away.
I’m with you Cathy. My daughter is 19 and in her 2nd year at uni although she lives at home and commutes to the campus. I know it will not be long before she graduates, finds employment and moves on. Like you I sometimes feel I could have (should have) done better in her early years but then I look at her now, at the talented, well grounded and independent young woman she has become and realise I didn’t do so badly after all!! Regretting what might have been is nothing but a waste of time and energy – live for each day, make them count and embrace what the future holds – it will surely be wonderful!!
Cathy, I have a blog you might like–it helped me in this very area of my life:
Its NEVER to late to become hands free–or in my case a degree of hands free (hey, I’m working on it 🙂
I’d love to hear what you think….
Ann G. says
Cathy (and Jane) I too can totally relate. My daughter just turned 19 and when she was very young I felt the same way. I wish I had more patience then and was a better parent as well. But she has grown into a smart, beautiful caring individual that is my world. Lucky for me she is choosing to do 2 years at community college and then transfer to the state college so she’s still home, but I truly treasure this time with her. And they will still surprise you from time to time with their random acts of kindness, one I will share (sorry for the length).
Last week was a tough week for all of us, my father passed away on my daughter’s birthday and his funeral was on my nephew’s birthday. Very hard, on our first day back to school/work she texted me “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” you get it, the whole song, I was about crying at my desk. She knew how hard the whole week had been and yet took a moment to just brighten my day. She said later it just reminded her so much of me singing it to her as a child. We are much tougher on ourselves regarding parenting than our kids will ever realize. You’re doing a fantastic job Cathy. 🙂
TyAnna Powell says
You made me cry. You made me feel full with love for my kids. Thank You heaps and heaps. Aidan looks gorgeous, by the way.
Cathy…I’ve been thinking lie this a lot lately too. Funny how in our40’s we are so more “in-tune” with these feelings than when we are new mums xxx
Looking forward to the “SHE’S HOME” post 🙂
Thanks for the heart-felt post. It never gets easy but it goes in stages. My middle daughter left for a Peace Corps assignment in Morrocco last week. She will be gone for 27 months. My oldest daughter lives 2000 miles away where she has started her career. Everytime they leave there is a big hole in our family. First they leave for college and you adjust and then they leave the nest for good and once again you adjust. My youngest is 14 so I have a few years left. I can’t image life without any children in the house. I thank God for giving me a third child.
Hang in there, many of us feel exactly the same way you do. It doesn’t get easier but it just becomes the new normal.
Monica Williams says
Even before I read this, my hormones had me weepy with the realization that time just flies on by, no matter what we do. I am your age, but my kids are just 6 and 3 (got a VERY late start!) I do my best to treasure each day.
My theme song this week is “Bookends” by Simon & Garfunkel. Just merely thinking the words silently brings tears to my eyes … “preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” If that doesn’t scream ‘Cathy Zielske’, I don’t know what does!!!
You are a great mom. She misses you, too. XOXO
Wait! You forgot one step! EXITING the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. For the love of moving walkways, that is the hardest airport I have ever navigated in my life! And I tried to do it twice! LOL! No, seriously. You are right to have all these feelings. All of them. You don’t need us to validate them for you. Just keeping “doing you” Cathy. Do you.
P.S. Oh, and you want to talk about regrets during early childhood? Boy oh Boy. My kid will probably be in therapy thanks to the years between one and eight. I shit you not. So don’t be so hard on yourself with the guilt of the early years. Just keep loving your kids with every ounce of your being.
Melissa K says
Your kids sound pretty amazing, Cathy, and you played no small part in that. Even in the years when you felt you didn’t do things the “right” way, you were helping to shape them into the amazing human beings you share with us. All the experiences in their lives, good and bad, shape their personalities. Go easy on yourself, it sounds to me like you “done good”; you have raised a girl with the courage and confidence to fly to a different country for such a good cause.
Gypsy Chaos says
There is a video clip of Katrina Kenison reading from her book. I rarely cry during things like that. The tears were running down my face! IMO the video should be better than the book – her voice adds so much meaning to the words, i can’t imagine separating them.
Gypsy Chaos says
Cassie – congratulations! Your daughter must be one impressive young woman – it’s required to be accepted at the academies. It is so much harder to have a child in a military academy – they leave early, have short breaks, and are so busy. Then again, you aren’t paying and she won’t have any monetary debt.
Although my son is only turning one next week (one!), it still feels like the first year went all too quickly. And they tell me it just goes faster from here… I wish I could just quit my job so I can take in everyday so it doesn’t feel like I’m missing something. I may be quite a number of years behind you, but I admit to already thinking about how fast it will all go and one day I’ll wake up and 18 years will have gone by. So I try every day to take it all in and try not to rush him, and just need to remember not to be a ‘crabby’ parent…(which I have already been at times.) It’s good to know that having feelings like this are inevitable, but normal. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.
Pilbara Pink says
I say to my kids ( now 26 and 29) Of their early years – I did the best I could with what I had at the time. I also have grown and become more self-aware over the years and am not proud of who I was back then. However, our children have seen us change, work on our marriage and improve our honesty in all areas of life. They know first-hand that people can change with some work and however you are now is not where you are permanently stuck. I like to think that is a useful life lesson we have taught them 🙂
Kendra B says
You’re so awesome!!! (and now one day closer to Aidan coming home lol)
Tracy, i know how you feel. I went back to work when Aidan was 4 months old, and I didnt end up quitting my job until Cole was born. It was a financial decision: half of my income would have gone to day care, so Dan and I figured out how to live on a lot less money. I sometimes feel like I missed the first 3-1/2 years of her life in some ways. Heres to enjoying and taking life as it comes. : )
I believe this whole heartedly! Both Dan and I are showing our children that we are changing; that change is something people can do when they want to make improvements in their lives. : ) Very useful indeed.
Hands Free Mama says
Thank you, JooneK! I couldn’t have said it better myself:”It is never too late to become Hands Free.” And what I love to write often on my blog is “Being Hands Free isn’t about what happened yesterday … it is about today, and the critical choices you make today.”
Holly S says
That Maya Angelou quote is my all time favorites and I think of it often. Missing your Aidan the first time away hurts just as much as the 100th time away…I wish I could say it gets easier and spew some great uplifting words but there aren’t any…it doesn’t get easier you just learn to cope better…my only child Christina is away at college for the 3rd year and she is far away…as she is spreading her wings, mine are left tattered and I am struggling to find what I am supposed to be doing now, who I am without her physically in my life daily…through texts, skype and phone calls, she is so happy and blossoming and I love that but my heart misses her terribly…treasure everyday you have her b/c one day she will want to spread her wings again and that empty cup left by the couch won’t seem like such a big deal…sending good thoughts to you and your baby!
Abby P. says
What a beautiful and poignant out-pouring of your heart – just know that every step in a mother’s journey is part of what creates the great mother in the end. It’s clear from the stories you post about your children, that they sincerely love you. No matter where they go in life (and I have this feeling they will stay close to home), they feel your love and are thinking of you almost as often as you are thinking of them. Thanks for sharing this…gonna go hug my almost-20-year-old-son now.
Kathryn Benfiet says
This post really hit close to home. Our daughter left home last May for 13 weeks of Marine boot camp at Parris Island, SC. It was 10 days before her 19th birthday and I really thought I was ready. From the moment we adopted her, she has had the ability to bring out the best and worst in me as a Mom (and there many times when I was certainly in the running for worst Mom of the week award). Two stubborn, strong-willed females in the same house – her last few years of high school were like being on a roller coaster. It’s a good thing my husband is such a calm, easy going guy. We were looking forward to our empty nest and seeing our girl grow up. The surprise was on me though…never did I imagine the depth of my grieving. The only contact we had with her for 13 weeks was letter writing. I cried so much in those 13 weeks and the only solace was pouring my heart out to her in letters. When your child leaves home, particularly when they join the military, it’s a huge adjustment. We are still finding our way. I’m so thankful for our Iphones, facetime, skype and the knowledge that time and distance have made us both love and appreciate each other even more and reinforced our commitment to our little family. Treasure each moment…they are precious indeed. Thanks for your beautiful post.
Sue Sume says
My 19 year old twins are college freshmen and I never thought I would have to leave the grocery store in tears because I was looking for a package of (only) two pork chops…
I’ve come to realize tho, that it’s not the 19 year olds I miss so much as it is journey we had to get there…the 19 year old version of my kids NEED to be at college, need to be spreading their wings. It is also what I want for them.
But there is a part of me that so wants what I can’t have. I want something that doesn’t exsist any more.
I want my curly headed toddlers, my skipping, hand
holding first graders, I want, I want…
I don’t have a magic elixer for the loss.
Time, that thief, has stolen them from me. (I say track time down and pull her wings off!)
But, over time, this loss has eased a little. Now it’s more like scar tissue over a wound.
Anyway, your words touched a chord in me.
I feel for you, and I wish you well on this journey.
What a lovely comment and story to share. : ) Thank you.
Maybe because my Jessica is a similiar age but your stories always make me teary (in a good way)…..must stop reading it at work ! LOL
Jamie Danford says
Gurrrrl. This is beautiful… My girly is 14, I get it. Thanks for the reminder of how freakin’ blessed I am. 😉
This is so sweet. Totally understand and will be happy for you when you get that lovely hug.
I know what you are going through. We live in Hong Kong and sent our then 12 year old son to boarding school in England last January. As he is an only child, it was heart retching to send him half way around the world.
It is now 15 months later and he settled into school very quickly. He loves school and has made lots of new friends, has done remarkably well in tennis, and reasonably well in his academics. He is so happy and well adjusted that I know we made the right decision. I have a deep sense that we have done a good job as a parent to have such an independent person. I won’t worry about him when he finally leaves the nest. I have also found that when we are together, we all make the effort to make it count. So no more nagging and fighting.
Having said all that, it has been 5 1/2 weeks since I last saw him and I miss him. He is flying home by himself for the first time on Saturday and I can’t wait to see him.
So my advise to you is to make the most of the time you have together and when your daughter does eventually leave for college, you will both miss her and be proud of her at the same time.
I can feel your pain and missing Aidan. My older son and I had a very difficult senior year, and I thought I was so ready to have him go away to college. I could quit worrying and fretting about where he was and what he was doing. But surprisingly, dropping him off at college six hours from home was one of the hardest and most emotional times for me in my entire life.
Tomorrow is Wednesday – your wait is almost over…
Solgunn Finnesand says
This brought tears to mye eyes. So honest and beautifully written. My son is only 7 and my second son is not born yet. I have a long way to go. But still I can feel your pain. My time will come too and I will feel the exact same way. So happy that your daughter is soon home. Today it is Wednesday.
Cathy, has me reliving that Sunday afternoon 1 1/2 years ago as we drove away from the Ohio State campus after dropping my daughter off. She was busy exploring campus and giggling with her new roommate; I was clamoring for one more hug. I made it nearly 90 miles home before I burst into tears. My heart literally ached because I’d only been away from her for 2 hours and already I missed her incredibly. Last week, I constantly checked the weather for the route from Sarasota to Cincinnati – as my 20 yrs old little/big girl drove 15 hours home from spring break with friends. I can tell you this: even once they leave, you will still be “checking their flight path.”
Okay, that got me all teared up over here. I hear you. xo.
Cathy, loved this post. I went overseas for nearly a year after college and barely called or wrote (ok, it WAS 1990 and the fastest and cheapest way of communicating was FAXING, am I right?). I can’t imagine how my parents felt. Pretty often, I feel like you, that I’m not doing a great job of mothering and that I get irritable and self-focused, but you are right. You can only recognize that and vow to do better. We are here to raise them right and they are here to help us learn how to do that. You are doing a fine job – anyone can see that your kids are growing up to be great people, no matter what they might be like “off-camera” (and we all know every kid has those moments). Also – in your journaling about offering a giveaway “with value” – every day you post you are giving us something of value. You’re an interesting, honest woman and we enjoy learning from you and living life alongside you. Even if we only know you virtually. Give yourself some credit – we love you or we wouldn’t be here. Mwah!
Cathy, I know exactly how you feel. My oldest (soon to be 23) left home at 18 and attended college 2 hours away. He was content and didn’t come home often, just holidays. We made numerous trips to see him. Then, 2 years later, our boy/girl twins (now 21) left to attend the same college. I know we raise our kids to succeed and leave the nest, but that was the HARDEST 9 months of my life. My daughter subsequently decided to come back home and attend the local college. She will be a senior next year and is still at home – now she has decided to attend medical school, so she make likely be with us another 5 years. My oldest, who graduated last May, got a great job here in town, and is back living with us, as least for a year or two so he can pay his school loans down before heading out on his own. And you know what, I LOVE HAVING THEM HOME! As much as I love my husband, I truly enjoy having my kids around – even though they are adults! Life is good, and I know they will spread their wings when they are ready!
Karen G (Cardcrazed) says
As the mother of a 21 year old and a 19 year old, I feel your pain. My oldest isn’t too far from me, but my youngest is at a school that puts her closer to Europe than to us. I am constantly thanking God for Skype, Twitter, and other social media, so that we can keep in touch. I am also thankful that both my kids have a fave 5 plan, and that we’re on that plan, so they can call us whenever they are free. I know I have fretted over my kids, and God is always telling me to trust Him. It’s just that there are times it will be harder to do that than others. I have total confidence in God that He will look after my kids, after all, they are really His, He just loaned them to my husband and I.
you know, I moved back home to finish college after my first two years of school, and honestly? I LOVED it. After being in a dorm, then an apartment, it was so nice to have clean sheets and hot food SO much more often than when i was living away. Sigh.
Now more than ever, perhaps you can understand why your Me: The Abridged Version class was so important to me. When my son went off to boot camp, the first to leave OUR protective walls, I had no flight tracker to check, and no way to get instagrams of him. Never had I gone more than five days in a row without hugging him, hearing his voice or seeing his face. And now it would be thirteen WEEKS. I clung to your classes and that scrap project to keep from becoming a burden to society (ha). And DH struggled as I did, so we bolstered each other up.
We’ve made it through half of his Marine Mission. Half to go, one deployment under our belts, and another coming up. This was NOT in the parent handbook, but God gets us through, one day at a time, and we are so thankful to Him for the gift of our children.
: ) Sending out love you to and your son! : )
Aw, Cathy. I’m catching up on my favorite blogs, & this brings tears to my eyes. My girl is 13yo & we’re working through her first real life-portal to who she is/who she will be. Your girl & your words are so very beautiful . . . you inspire me even further to be the best mom I can be, & to see her for who she is, separate from me, apart from being *my* girl. Thank you for sharing/inspiring/connecting. You rock. 🙂
Beth W says
I have 3 fully grown sons-as in one is 37-stretched far and wide.There are still days when the tears flow freely.They for the most live happy,healthy productive lives.This part of motherhood sucks.
Katie Pegher says
Cathy… I’m 34. My littles are 3 and 1. I live more than 6 hours from my parents… and have been himming and hawing about the logistics of packing up two kids, a dog, my husband, the price of gas, yadda yadda next weekend for Easter… only to be under my parents roof a mere 48 hours. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. As usual – you are right on the money honey. I’m going the hell home! I’m gonna hug my mamma and daddy – and my kids are going to get some QT with their Mimi and Grandpa. And THAT my dear – is what life is all about. Holding each other as close as you can – for as long as you can. Love you… and your blog… and your willingness to be so candid. Keep it coming sister. We are with you.
Aw, thanks Katie. : )
Alison B says
Why, why did you have to make me cry today! Thanks…
I found your blog through a friend who is an artist and might be working with me on a project.
I love what you had to say about your daughter. Feelings like that are the same with fathers and Papas too. I know. I have two adult children and five grandchildren and I feel just as you do about them.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. : )
Hi Cathy! I find myself reading this for the first time more than a year after you wrote it. My daughter turns 13 tomorrow and this post really felt so wonderful to me today as I think about all of the changes she is experiencing. To realize where we are as mothers and being grateful for what we have done and yet still have to do is an amazing act of grace no matter where we fall in that spectrum. My child is strong and confident, she is getting ready to travel for the first time without my husband and I, she is a fantastic student with many interests, and has amazing aspirations before she has even hit high school. Feeling like I want to keep her like this always and yet I realize so many amazing opportunities and experiences are waiting for her..her as an individual human being..amazing. Love your insight and honesty. Thank you for the inspiration.
Thanks for posting on an old post! : )