No one tells you that from the absolute second that you become a mother your job is a series of letting go. No one tells you how you feel so much joy in the desolation of being good at this. No one tells you that the connections you will have with your children, will be so completely different but so completely perfect.
My beautiful daughter and first born is my warrior. She is everything I wished I could've been, in so many ways. She is so brave and fierce. So intelligent and kind. So incredibly gifted in being the absolute best she can be.
My son Charlie, is my baby. A beautiful man now, that has such a deep and genuine loyalty to those he loves. He does remind me of myself at his age because we both had the most enthusiastic love for life and absolutely LOVED to push the boundaries, waiting for the next adventure. However, he also has the ability to charm anyone that he meets.
He and I became connected much in the same way my daughter and I did, both on the first night home from the hospital. I rocked them in my chair, as they fell asleep on my chest and I promised them both that I would forever protect them from anyone that would try to harm them and that I would love them perfectly just as they were, regardless of their faults. So, I promised them unconditional love and I said it outloud.
Charlie will graduate from high school in one week. Over the last few years, he's done more and more with his friends, has found love with his beautiful girlfriend, Emma, and is about to embark in what comes next. I find myself trying to navigate the world as my two biggest and beautiful challenges leave the nest (to quote my friend Heather). It's overwhelming the feelings. There are so many, so conflicting and so strong and no one ever told me that in raising your children to be independent both in mind, decisions, actions and preferences meant that, in a way, you were training your replacement and that would be a good thing.
I have always thought in stories, real and unreal stories. What could and would my children eventually be but that was always something that would happen years down the road. As I prepare for this week, I find myself crying frequently because even though my mind rationally understands that this is a fantastic thing for my son and there's so much pride in what he's done and has been able to accomplish, I realize that I'm about to embark in what comes next too. I recently wrote a note to a graduate that I know and love and it said this...
"I know the future is scary and that you are about to dive head first into it but I do hope you are able to look up, as you dive in, and realize that the fear is simply making the decision to jump in the first place. I, for one, cannot wait to see how you swim."
I wrote that to her tonight and understand that I, subconsciously, was also saying it to myself. Becoming my own person, was probably something I should have figured out and done before I even had children and to a certain extent I did but in the years since, I became Paisley and Charlie's mama. And though I'm not the best mom, I didn't always make lunches, I wasn't always there every second they needed me, I may have let a few bad words slip from time to time, I allowed them to make their choices and guide them in the outcomes, instead of making the decisions for them. I feel pride in the fact that I can become a pretty kick ass Mother Bear when someone fucks with my kids, that my children don't live in a world of lollipops and rainbows, they understand and will know how to survive in, even if I left them tomorrow. They are generous with their love and loyal to their true friends. They have been work, they have been the best work I have ever done.
So, as I watch my son cross the stadium field and like Paisley, two years ago, watch the reel of his life flash in front of my eyes, I will be able to focus on the man he now is, reaching out his hand to accept the paper that begins his true independence. Knowing that smiling through tears is still smiling and is in fact, the best kind there is because in a way, it's my independence too, albeit somewhat forced ;)
So, to my son I would say this, you're my true heart and the best of everything that I am. You're perfect and exquisite exactly as you are, never let anyone tell you that you have to change for them. You've accomplished something others have turned away because it was easier to do so and that says something about your character. You've always been present when it counts and have shown that your love and loyalty for others makes you a truly fantastic friend. You've made me love you, even when I wanted to strangle you and to me, that's priceless. You'll always be my Charlie Bear and I'm proud to be your mama.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014