January 17th, 2019
By: Rachel O.S. Edmund
Today I digress from what I was actually supposed to write about because being a mother does not stop for you to take a break or get yourself together. It doesn’t wait on you to be perfect. That being said I want to share a little about my older daughter.
She is a beautiful girl and at nineteen she always tells me that I was so clueless at her age. It’s a running joke! She is consistently in my thoughts as any child would be but she is more so now because she is in another country studying on scholarship.
Two years ago when we got the news at her graduation ceremony, feelings of jubilation and vindication overwhelmed me as a single mother for I thought that finally I had gotten something right in my life. I never had any thought about how she was going to make it to school, I just knew (because I prayed) that she was going to be alright and the money that I didn’t have would come by God’s provision.
There is no parenting school that teaches you about the feelings that would inevitably overtake you as a parent during such a time. I watched my daughter in a matter of mere months become more independent of me and display a level of independence and tenacity that I could not fathom. I was scared for her and I still am.
I remember when I finished high school that I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do with myself or my life. At seventeen my daughter said that she wanted to take a year off from school because she needed that break and she was right to do that because till then she had never missed a day of school really. I supported her decision and allowed her to have her own thoughts and feelings about HER life.
My daughter is a first in our family; she is the first girl and the first member to attend university on scholarship! Even my genius brother didn’t get a scholarship! She says that she wants to be Prime Minister one day and I have no doubt in my mind that she will be. I am supportive of her choices no matter what because for a long time that was the only thing that I could give to her and I was all that she had to rely on.
I thought to myself as I stood in the airport, tears filling my eyes, that life and time waits on no man. The day that I had waited for when she would finally leave the nest came too soon for me. I wished that I had had more time. Simultaneously, as she took her first steps toward the rest of what I believe would be a wonderful journey, I felt so proud of her not only because of what she had accomplished but also because of her courage to leave when she did.
At that age I thought that I would be too homesick to leave the island shores that was my home and to date I have never left. As I watched her waving goodbye my heart sank into my shoes because it hit me that my baby is now grown enough to face this life on her own. I can’t save her from heartbreak or heartache; I won’t be there if she gets sick and needs a doctor-mummy! The tears were all there in my heart but I couldn’t let my younger see because she is so emotionally sensitive and she was already in tears as she hugged her sister goodbye.
I love my girls to the moon and back but as a mother the choice to let go and allow my child to find and make her own way was both easy and difficult. It was easy because I always taught her to be independent and self-sufficient but even if I didn’t teach her those lessons it was something that was innate in her anyway so she would have figured it out one way or the other. I remember that when she was just approaching a year and in daycare she had already been able to dress herself and would get mad at me if and when I attempted to help her. She was not having it one bit!
It was difficult for me to let go as well because I am a mother and you always want to protect your children from the bad in the world especially when you’ve experienced a fair amount of bad yourself. The feelings do not go away and sometimes I do wish that she had opted for university right here but then how would she gain a world view if she stayed on the tiny island that we call home? Prime ministership requires a world view and international experience!
I do feel blessed that I live in this time rather than in the time of my grandparents as now I have internet access and I can see her lovely smile on Skype or WhatsApp. I couldn’t do the snail mail thing! I think I would have had to move to where ever she was!
The days don’t get easier because you’ve grown so accustomed to being there and your children taking up so much of your time. Some days I feel really happy with a hint of sadness but I am comforted that she is pursuing HER dream and not mine.
She came home for Christmas break and my Lord! I was so happy to see her! I was so glad she made it back in one piece. We talked and she shared a lot of things and my heart was filled with such joy. Words cannot describe the immense pleasure it was just to be in the same room as her; just to look at her and see her bloom and flourish! She told me of her plans for the year which of course did not include me! She said that she wanted to spend her summer break in England with her uncle (on her dad’s side) so she wouldn’t be home then. The next time that I will see her in the flesh is for Christmas!
I felt so sad yet I felt so happy because of two things: 1. My girl is traveling the world as she sees fit (and I don’t have to spend the money for her to do it); pursuing her dreams of world travel. I’m glad someone else is footing the bill for once to help her create memories of a life well spent. 2. I now have my own reason to travel now because I’m not going to have her birthday go by and not at least try to be there with her!
This letting go thing isn’t so bad after all! Your children will always be your children but I don’t believe in living vicariously through them… well maybe in a couple of ways. For me I would live through them and see the world through their eyes as long as they were doing what they loved and not what I wanted them to do.
Today someone liked a picture (one of the few that I had of her when she was little) on Facebook and waves of nostalgia washed over my every sense. I literally teared up when I saw it, then she sent me a picture that we took as we ate ice-cream at Haagen Daz just before she left. I just had to do a side by side comparison just to make the reality tangible! I miss my daughter very much; every single day but my love for her has transcended space and time. I want her to be happy and to have every success and for her to have that I have to let go of the little girl in bubbles, clips and ponytails with the cute socks and shoes and the matching dress!
To you parents that may be experiencing the same thing I think that you should remember this one thing that was brought to my thoughts a few minutes ago. You can’t embrace life and live it to the fullest with a closed fist or holding on to the past.
We nurture our children for these very moments in life; the moments when they will learn who they essentially are and who they will eventually become. We didn’t nurture them to remain with us forever but so that they could go out into the world and make their mark; so that they could succeed in the things that they loved; so that they could live the lives that we couldn’t for whatever reason.
It is a difficult journey but it gets easier when you focus on the lessons that you taught them to become the persons that they are today: confident, loving, compassionate, self-sufficient, independent, productive members of society.
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