“The children warm in bed at dawn will leave And take your heart and go to worlds you do not know.” —From Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Yes. They will leave one day; mine surely did. They all took little pieces of my heart and they scattered. At one point I had four children in four different states, but now it’s down to three states.
I’m in Florida right now with one of them and his wife and my grandchildren. Grandchildren who are warm in bed at dawn, sometimes right next to me, but not for long after dawn. If it’s a school morning they are drowsily stirring. If it’s a weekend they are watching the clock for 7:30 so they can have “screen time”.
Today was a little different. It’s Career Day at school. E wanted to dress as an architect. He filled his button-up shirt pocket with pens and carried a clipboard with a drawing he made last night. He designed a skyscraper with a few special features. He was so excited that he was up, dressed, and eating cereal when I walked into the kitchen with his sister (who was going to be an artist). I love to see this fire in him. The joy of being a kid isn’t always easy when it comes to school.
I do not look forward, for myself, to the day they, too, venture off with pieces of my heart. But, for them, I pray whether architect or soldier, artist or stay-at-home mom, they go with God.
Today is our 41st anniversary. I can’t help but think of my parents who had 41 years of marriage. Less than two months later Dad was gone. I didn’t realize then just how young he was, just 63. Mom was younger than I am now when he died, just 59.
Mom and Dad started dating when she was 14, he was 18. They married on November 25th after Mom had graduated from high school that spring. Less than two years later my brother was born. I was born on the evening of their fourth anniversary. Eventually my younger brother came along.
Mom and Dad did not have much growing up. Neither one went to college, but Dad became a very successful businessman. He worked hard to provide for his family and Mom worked hard at home and stayed involved in the various activities of her children.
My parents weren’t very demonstrative, maybe because they didn’t have a lot of hugs growing up. But I knew they loved me, and in their later years they learned to express it physically.
I am thankful for the example of my parents. I am thankful for the 41 years I’ve had with my husband. I’m thankful for the children we have been given and the grandchildren.
And said husband surprised me this morning with tickets to see our favorite band.
“Ashamed of herself as mothers are when they realize they have passed that point in life when they want more from their daughters than their daughters want from them.” – Frederik Backman
I hit this point many years ago. It has taken a while to settle in my heart that it’s a natural progression, this growing away from our mothers. And sometimes there is a point where we tip back towards them. I was still in that tipping back that comes when the empty nest makes you realize your mother’s nest has been empty a long time, when Mom died. Now there isn’t even a nest for her except in memories. Yet, I try to follow in her footsteps and reach out to those I know are lonely. I have a long way to go, but I have Mom’s example to guide me.
And all is not lost on the mother/daughter front. Sure, I yearn for the days when they were young and occasionally thought I hung the moon. But, I see in them a spark of Mom’s kindness and know that they will always tip back to me now and then.