- Posted October 8, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Confessions from imperfect parents
Getting Closer To Goodbye
I don't know which love is greater, the love I share with my husband, or the love I have for my children. More than intertwined, they are deeply tangled. To try and choose would require unraveling their knots twisted with time, and pulling them apart would cause too much pain.
Both of these loves began with worry. Love's seed, still loose beneath the soil was barely planted, when I began to worry what loss would feel like.
The story of my husband and I began with a dance. We danced the way my parents did after spending half their lives together. Our courtship stretched across the country and we filled the space between us with thousands of words, written and whispered. I loved him already, when we discovered our 18 year age difference. I started worrying then about someday losing him.
The love for our first daughter Olivia began with warnings and worry while she grew in my womb. My husband, frantic, drove us to the hospital, then watched a helicopter carry us away. That is where I first learned about patience, and how worry and love can keep a baby safe.
Zoe was born next, and my love for both girls rushed steadily into a never ending flow of night into day, and day into night, loving and mothering, two baby girls born 20 months apart. We honeymooned into toddlerhood, celebrating a bright fresh love that burned steadily throughout each day.
And then Zoe was 3, and her words had not come. Her arms were always reaching for me then, clutching me for comfort, when finally, a doctor knew the name and cause of her illness, but would not even guess how long she might live. "Could she leave us when she's 10?" I asked. His reply was just a shrug and shake of the head. I asked again and again. No matter what the number, his answer stayed the same.
Zoe is eleven now. Last weekend we made cookies, and as she stood alongside me in her walker, with clumps of dough clutched in her hands to form into cookies, she confided "When I grow up, I think I will need an apartment with a large kitchen, Mom -- so I have lots of room to bake." Before the inspiring strength of Zoe's words began to settle, the words still floated through the air, the pain in my heart was etched onto my face. "Oh don't worry, Mom," Zoe soothed. "I won't leave you right away."
Our family love keeps blossoming. Olivia is a teen now. We talk about the news, celebrity gossip and sometimes even college. We talk books, boy bands , hashtags and gourmet food and I try to imagine when she is gone from home, finding her way in the world without me. Will I love her enough to let her go, will I be strong enough to let her struggle?
Summer's end has come and gone and I miss our afternoon movies in the family room, girls tank top shoulders peeking out from furry cuddle blankets. The way we shared big bowls of popcorn, with icy, cold lemonade, and overlapping legs and giggles. I want the summer scent of chlorine mixed with strawberry shampoo to linger again. I miss seeing the mess of the craft projects we began with enthusiasm and abandoned for ice cream cones instead. I miss seeing library books left scattered throughout the house, tucked into the corners of comfy chairs, left open and face down on the kitchen table. I miss finding rainbow-colored flip flops, only one at a time, of course, hiding under couches and tables. I miss lazy afternoons, when there is no hurry, when we hid from the scorching sun, and just talked or listened to Olivia's summer music playlists.
I miss my daughters' words that stop and start, as one dreams and the other worries, bringing to me ideas that are too big for a girl to hold on her own.
I have surrendered my daughters again to the start of school. I am not there to lift my daughter's damp hair from that place on the back of her neck, where her hair tangles and heat collects. That spot, where Mother's gently pull their daughter's hair into a hand held ponytail, and sweetly blow sometimes, where I secretly plant the lightest kiss. That moment that always takes me back to changing diapers, and the creases behind her knees, all those places to kiss, that we used to share and now are hers alone.
At school someone else tells them to drink their water, watch their tone of voice, and eat their snack. Zoe tells someone else when she is tired, or when her head hurts. The nurse gives her medicine and someone else helps her in and out of her wheelchair, and gets to laugh at her jokes and her ability to strike a silly pose at the serious moments.
Olivia will once again lose herself in books and homework, with texts and chats,, as she becomes captive to her friends opinions, settling into the schedule of school and saving sweet scraps of leftovers to share with me at the end of her day.
And for now, I will I keep holding on to love, awaiting our next summer, as our family grows and we get closer to goodbye.
- My life