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Another Kind of Missing

I’ve often wondered if people would have children if they actually comprehended the length and depth of the commitment. Before I had kids, I sort of thought that at age six, you patted them on the head and sent them off to school with a sigh of relief. Your job was just about over at that point.

Maybe I thought this because I had a somewhat inattentive mother. Maybe I just didn’t observe the world around me. I realized that some mothers stayed involved in their kids’ lives, but I thought they were kind of strange. My loving mother-in-law was great, but, really, did she have to call so often and ask so many questions?

As my kids passed that school-age milestone, the realization crept up on me: it would never end. Never. I would always be their mom, and I would always care way too much. By that time, of course, Nature has captured you and made you do her bidding, and it’s too late.

This evening I was out walking, almost home, when I ran into my neighbor, just beginning her evening stroll. Our grown daughters attended high school together and have both, now, moved out of town. We stopped and chatted about our book group’s selection Push by Sapphire (which became the movie Precious) — a story of a mother and daughter, when you think about it. (Only…yikes.) We talked for awhile and then parted, both of us worried about getting home before the clouds above us opened up.

As she turned, my neighbor gestured to her windbreaker. “It’s my daughter’s,” she said, smiling. “She left it here when she moved to Chicago.”

“Yeah. I wear one of Margaret’s sweatshirts all the time,” I laughed.

When I turned away, I heaved a huge sigh and had to blink the tears from my eyes. There it is, right at the surface. Missing her. My adult daughter. It will never end.

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