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 thatÂ at age six, you patted them on the head and sent them off to school with a sigh ofÂ relief. Your job was just about over at that point.
MaybeÂ I thought this becauseÂ 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.Â My loving mother-in-law was great,Â but, really, did she have to callÂ so oftenÂ and askÂ so manyÂ 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 IÂ 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 selectionÂ Push by Sapphire (which became the movieÂ Precious)Â — aÂ story of a mother and daughter, when you think about it. (Only…yikes.) WeÂ talked for awhileÂ 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,Â I heaved aÂ huge sighÂ 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.