“It’s not a death. And it’s not a tragedy. But it’s not nothing, either.”
These words, from an article written by Beverly Beckham for boston.com in 2006, keep
replaying in my mind over and over and over again.
Although I can’t exactly pinpoint when I read Ms. Beckham’s article for the first time, I do know that it was years ago. Well before my four kids were even close to leaving home, at a time when my house was filled with diapers and toys, bottles and sippy cups, chaos and love.
When the sounds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einsteins echoed throughout the house on a seemingly endless loop and when my days were filled with the PTA meetings, carseats, carpools, Little League Football, dance recitals, and cheer competitions.
Now, years later, as my mama heart prepares to send my daughter to college, those words have emerged from somewhere deep in my memory. Resurrected from a place where the songs from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einsteins now reside, and resurfaced in the forefront of my mind.
As my mind replays them, my heart and soul absorb them. I feel them in every cell of my body. Never in my life have words had such a profound meaning. Today, to me, truer words have never been spoken.
Nothing prepares you for sending your child out into the world.
You see, right now my house is filled with boxes and bins and suitcases. There are piles of
clothes everywhere. Clothes to sell, clothes to donate, clothes to box up for later and clothes to pack.
Then there are things.
Things like books, trophies, medals, pictures.
She’s been sorting through it all for days, creating piles in every corner of the basement family room.
Some of it will go with her and some of it is staying on the shelves in her soon to be
vacant bedroom. The rest will be boxed up and stored, only to be opened and looked at by a more adult version of herself, when the inevitable waves of childhood nostalgia wash over her and she feels like taking a trip down memory lane.
Who knew that THIS is what eighteen years looks like?
Boxes and bins, clothes and keepsakes. A girl in the middle of it all trying to decide what to do with it. Me looking on with a pit in my stomach and an unrelenting ache in my heart.
An ache has actually been preventing me from even going downstairs for days.
I know I should be helping her more, but I can’t bear to look at that girl sitting in the middle of her life because that’s what I see…a girl.
Not an incredible young women with an academic scholarship to college. Not a remarkable human with a knack for photography and an interest in psychology. Not my grown daughter with an amazingly bright future ahead of her, but a girl.
My baby girl.
She’ll come back home of course, here and there at least. Although it won’t ever be the same because no matter what, she’ll always leave again.
But I guess that’s how it’s always been.
She was never meant to stay.
We raised her to leave. To go out into the messy, scary, uncertain world and to leave her mark in it.
And as I watch my daughter pack up her life, her eighteen years, I wonder what that mark will look like. I don’t know for sure, but if it’s anything like the mark she’s left on my heart and in our home these past eighteen years, it is going to be beautiful.
My daughter leaving home for University tomorrow isn’t a death and it isn’t a tragedy, but it’s not nothing, either.
It’s big, it’s scary, it’s painful, it’s beautiful.
And it’s the way it’s supposed to be.
This article originally appeared on Filter Free Parents.