When I was six my sister got married. Soon after, there was a holiday or some other reason the whole family was together for a meal, (my memory is foggy, it could have just been a Tuesday)and my sister and her new husband weren’t there because they were with his family.
My mother was cranky. At the time I thought she was angry and felt betrayed because her daughter was clearly choosing her husband’s family over us. I was six, that is how I felt. It wasn’t our finest moment as we adjusted to this new life of letting go.
Fast forward 16 years to the Christmas I spent in Spring Lake with my fiance. The first Christmas Eve I had ever missed in 22 years. Was my mom angry? Maybe. Did she feel betrayed that I was choosing his family over mine that night? Maybe. I know I was heartsick as I clearly loved this guy and even his people, but I missed my own so much.
Then I opened a letter from my mom. It said this:
Just a note to let you know I miss you and I love you. I know it was hard for you this Christmas but you have been blessed, honey, with a beautiful young man who loves you very much and he should be first in your life from now on.
I know you’ll have a wonderful time and please wish the K**** a happy holiday from all the Ritzs.
She’d come a long way from the cranky mom at that first family dinner. She’d come an even farther way from the summer where she barely spoke to me because I had the NERVE to move out and go to college. She not only didn’t fuss at me moving on, she encouraged it and that note left an indelible mark on my heart. There is no greater love than that which is shown by letting someone grow.
This summer, my own kids are moving on in a way. It happens every time I fold the last school clothes in the laundry and start hanging bathings suits on the clothesline. No one has left me for college, or even Christmas with future in-laws, but they are growing in ways that obviously don’t include me. It breaks my heart a little each time. But then I remember the beautiful relationship I had with my mom and I know that letting go of your kids isn’t the same as losing them.
So I will hold my heart as they grow up and away, content in the knowledge that fully spread wings can always fly someone back home.
I learned from the best.
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