You are leaving home today. I keep repeating that statement over and over in my mind, trying to understand what it means. I have had your lifetime to prepare for this, sometimes wanting it to come quickly and sometimes hoping this day would never come. Most of the time though, I have been preparing myself and preparing you, by madly gathering life’s questions and answers in the hope that I haven’t forgotten anything. I keep revising the list inside my head; checking off all the things I know I’ve already told you – so many times.
As tempting as it is to slip a few of the big ones into a casual conversation I correct myself and let it go. An image of your face appears before me and I see your eyes look upward and your mouth tighten with that expression of yours that we both know so well. “Mum I know – you have told me a hundred times already.”
Well, you know me well enough to expect a letter tucked away in your luggage with just a couple of pages of instructions about ‘keeping yourself safe and healthy’. You might even expect to find food in there, a little treat to keep you going. And lots of XXX’s scribbled on a note like noisy kisses on your bare belly.
Protecting you and preparing you has been such a big part of who I am – it’s hard to redefine myself and accept that my job is done.
I remind myself that this is about you, but as usual, here I am making it about me again. Slightly neurotic, I find myself wanting to explain or apologize or gain some kind of absolution from you. I want to go back into your history and call myself to your attention and wipe the slate clean of all my mistakes. I do admit that I have been selfish and hypocritical at times, and I don’t want you to leave now thinking it was your fault or that you didn’t deserve better.
Yeah, yeah, I hear you say ‘Don’t worry about it, it doesn’t matter”.
I have such an urge to tell you of promises I made, as you slept below my heart all those years ago. So very real and profound to me and so intense I’m sure I’d weep if I even tried to tell you. You of course, would shift from one leg to the other and endure my disclosure with discomfort and impatience.
Mini movies of first steps, first words and first everything else’s consume me. Tooth fairies and Santa Clause and Easter bunnies. Little trophies, wall posters, clay models and lego buildings.
I’m indulging myself, it’s my prerogative, but I have promised myself to keep it all to myself. I want to reminisce, at a time when you have one foot out the door. I’m going back to the baby and you are going forward to the man. You have freedom, independence and adventure on your mind. I know you are ready; capable, competent and smarter than I’ll ever be.
My attitude shifts as I accept you don’t need any precautions, no more moralizing; no more “You know what you should do…”
And even though I have represented myself as parent and teacher I see so clearly that I have also been the pupil. I have learned so much from you, you have played such a large part in moulding me into the person I am. You have taught me well and I thank you.
Now, I’m compelled to tell you of all the things about you that fills me with pride and awe. Another long list of what you have achieved, the person you are, your character and integrity. I want to place wishes on you and insist that they all become true for you. I want you to stand at the head of the table and have everyone who ever knew you, come forward and pay tribute to you. But, you would hate that too.
It’s never about what you have done or anything that you are capable of doing. It’s only ever about who you are; the real value is in the fact that you exist.
No, you don’t need to be told who you are or what you are capable of. You don’t judge yourself by such things and I don’t want you to do that either. You are your own person and you are comfortable in your own skin, and at the end of the day, that tells me that I have done well. That tells me, that you are ready for the world and the world will be better for having you as a participant.
I really don’t need to tell you any of this – I even wonder now what impact any of the words have ever had. I do believe that I have taught you by example, but more than that, I think you have always known my heart. The umbilical cord might just be symbology for the heart to heart connection between mother and child.
When you leave today, I will light an imaginary candle and place it on the window-sill. Think about it, if you wander into shadows or if you need to lighten up. Let it always be your beacon.
And all in all, there are only two things left to say to you, “I am proud of you and I love you.”
Copyright Sonya Green
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