Every few weeks I am reminded of my age, despite the fact that I plug my ears and sing, “La la la la!” whenever I find a new grey hair. But it isn’t my own age that bothers me. It is the fact that my increasing age means the increasing age of my children as well. This weekend I was reminded of this fact during a conversation with my youngest. It was a conversation I had somehow avoided with the boys. But with my daughter, it was inevitable.
It seems the deepest conversations I have occur on the beach. While my ten-year-old and I were walking, she asked, “Mom, is there really a Santa Claus?” My heart stopped beating for a moment. My mind raced. No, this is not happening. I will not be having this conversation. She is my baby and I can’t let her childhood go this quickly. If I let this conversation continue, something sacred will be forever lost.
In a weak moment I stumbled. I tried to change the subject. I hemmed and hawed. But then she stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “Mom. I am ten years old. I need to know.” I replied, “Honey, don’t ask a question you don’t want an honest answer for. Are you sure you want to know?”
That one tiny word carried her out of childhood and in to a world that takes her yet another step away from me. A step she needed to take. Was ready to take. It was a step that reminded me of the constant and bittersweet passage of time.
After hearing my reply, she thought a bit. And as she did, her shoulders became a little straighter. Her step became a little stronger. And she herself aged before my eyes.
You raise them to be self sufficient, confident and strong. You raise them to be kind, giving and full of love. You raise them to be independent. And finally, you raise them to leave you.
Motherhood, my friends, is no easy task.