By Lisa Barr
Many years ago I wrote an article for a newspaper about how studies have shown that the two most difficult times to “let go” of your children are sending them off to kindergarten AND sending them off to college. Back then, I was on the kindergarten side of the spectrum. And now … (somebody bring me a box of tissues).
Yes, there I go again. Immediate tears like an actress at an audition, only I’m not acting. I’m feeling every damn thing. My eldest daughter Noa (the first of my three teenage daughters) is graduating high school this week and heading off to college this summer. She’s ecstatic and I’m a mess.
Cases-in-point: She texts me from school with a screenshot, “OMG — got my yearbook and I luv the baby picture you submitted – ILY (Her: Excited; Me: Tearing Up). I pick up her prom dress from the seamstress, who holds up the gorgeous long-beaded gown for me to see (Seamstress: smiling with pride; Me: A burst fire hydrant). She texts me from school: (Her: “Last Tuesday in School —YESSSSSS!): Me (texting back): That’s awesome, honey!! (accompanied by three different-colored heart emojis); Me (thinking): Oh no, only 14 more Tuesdays ’til she leaves. How am I going to do this? (FYI: There is no emoji for Mom-in-Crisis).
Forget the hot flashes, the perimenopause or whatever my gyno calls it. What I’m afflicted with is much deeper, way more serious.
I diagnosed myself: It’s called: Mama-Pause: All I do is flashback to all of our special moments.
Here’s the back story. Before I gave birth to Noa, I had three miscarriages and was told I may never be able to carry a pregnancy. I was beyond devastated. So when I miraculously (drugs, shots, you name it) became pregnant with Noa, I was put on bed rest for nine months (yes, you read that right). The most hyperactive woman in the world was confined to a bed, but damn, I was determined to have this baby … and she, that mini fighter growing inside me, was hellbent to prove me right and survive against all odds. When I welcomed my green-eyed girl into my arms, after crossing the pregnancy marathon finishing line (as in 52 ultrasounds later) … it wasn’t just overwhelming love, it was a reaching-the-top-of Kilimanjaro feat for the two of us. I knew right then whatever came our way, together as Mom & Daughter, we would survive and thrive.
And over the years we’ve been tested. It’s no secret, since I’ve written about it many times — my first husband disappeared, never to be seen nor heard from again when my daughters were little girls. It is a trauma no child should ever endure. I had to be strong for my girls — stay “Fun Mommy” through it all. But there was that one moment of deep pain — when I thought I was alone in my bedroom, and I broke down. Noa, then five, must have heard me. She then led her three-year-old little sister into my bedroom with their entire stuffed animal platoon in tow (including three dolls shlepped in a stroller).
“Mommy, we’re all here,” announced my fearless little leader that day after she circled all the stuffed animals around me, hands placed firmly on her tiny hips. “You always protect us. Now we’re here to protect you.”
Our bond has always been deep. She was that kid glued to my leg. I was that Mom who loved it. I would walk her to school every day, until that one day — The Day of Reckoning. It was the first day of fifth grade. We walked up to the sidewalk stop sign leading to her elementary school, and Noa turned to me: “I’ve got to do this alone, Mommy. You stay right here. I’m going forward now.”
And so her journey began … and so it continues.
My Daughter/My Selfie: As you head to college on your own …
Reach for those stars, and don’t be afraid to go the distance. Sometimes you’ll fall, but more than likely, knowing you, you will pick yourself back up and get there — hell or high water.
Make good (great) choices and use the toolbox of advice I’ve given you (there’s more there than you need, and extra from where that came from).
Text me that you got home safely from wherever you are — ‘cuz you know I can only go to sleep when I know you’re sleeping.
Skype me often — so I can see you, see your room, look into your eyes and know the whole story. But don’t worry too much — that’s still my job.
Stay Strong & Proud — S & P — our family motto. Always know that whoever you’re with or whatever you encounter — YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Live it, Love it, Laugh it. Take opportunities, experience life, and cherish all the world’s goodies. (Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to make your bed.)
You are on your way to a new, exciting beginning. Once again, you are crossing the street, just look both ways as you go forward. So go show ‘em how it’s done, honey, and remember: I’m right here, back at the ranch, as backup.
I love you. Always & Forever xoxo Mommy
Lisa Barr is the editor and creator of GIRLilla Warfare, and the author of the award-winning historical thriller “Fugitive Colors” - www.fugitivecolorsthenovel.com< back