Living and Giving

I’ve been feeling pretty down since I moved away from my grown children. This is understandable, considering that my move from the panhandle of Texas to Nashville, Tennessee came on the heels of a divorce.

From July, 1988 to December, 2014, my entire life focus was centered around my husband, sons, and local church. Sensing that the hands-on segment of the “Mom” years was nearing a conclusion, I directed my industry toward the next phase of life in a new career that would, hopefully, provide my husband and myself a comfortable living as we prepared for retirement.

Despite his best intentions, Mr. Holmes couldn’t get into it and found something (someone) else to get into, instead. These factors led to an almost immediate, forced march into adulthood for our sons. At least, that’s how it appeared at the time.

My sons are aged twenty-two, twenty-five, and twenty-seven. They’re grown men, and yet I have suffered a tremendous amount of guilt in their sudden launch. All three were still living at home, more or less, when Benedict Arnold decided to defect. All three remained at home, helping me pay the bills, after the divorce. When my move to Tennessee became imminent, all three engaged in an apartment search and moved themselves out.

This action brought about mixed reviews from friends and family. Among older people, I received a sound, “well done.” From my peers, I received a solemn, downcast look, shaking of the head as if to say, “God, the pain.” And, believe it or not, I also experienced a general sprinkling across generations of, “I don’t even understand what you’re talking about.”

We sure don’t.

We don’t understand letting go of our youth. We don’t understand volunteering for a front row seat at our now-grown child’s disaster parade. We don’t understand embracing the pain of separation for the long term good of the separated. We don’t understand who we are outside of being someone’s parent. We don’t understand that, after a lifetime of self denial and sacrifice for the sake of our offspring, we are simply required to walk away. Where’s my prize? Where’s my thank-you? I don’t understand. Don’t I at least get a certificate, or something? Where’s the reward? Somebody owes me something for the late nights, the laundry, and the stretch marks. After everything we’ve done for you, where are you going?

I love my sons, and my heart breaks every day because I miss them so much. My greatest privilege in life has been to raise and instruct three amazing young men. As a parent, if I’ve done my job right, my children will leave me to have families of their own. They will make mistakes and occasionally fall, but that’s how they learn to get back up again and succeed. I was younger than my youngest child when I started my family, just a child, myself. They taught me how to trust my own instincts, make my own decisions, and selflessly care for others. They gave me my life, and now I must give them theirs. They don’t owe me a single thing.