Most of my readers have shared the roller coaster of emotions I have undergone in the last two years, through my blogs and editorial columns. From my 40th birthday to my daughter's graduation and marriage, the death of my grandparents, to the reality that my baby boy will be leaving for college in less than a year, many changes have happened in what seems like a flash.
All of these events have forced me to look at life in a much different way and, in some odd way, laugh at the things that seemed to be huge hurdles at the time they were happening, Yet, the one thing I have not been able to overcome is the feeling of sadness for my emptying nest. A constant unanswered question has been, how will I ever fill the void of losing our children to evil things like marriage and college?
One day, my baby girl is by my side wearing perfect, pink lacey dresses with coordinating hair bows. The next, she is in a t-shirt and holey jeans, then a cap and gown and, after more schooling, a dental smock. Then comes the knockout blow -- a ring and a wedding dress.
Before I knew what hit me, I was planning an elaborate reception, then she was down the aisle and out of the house, moving two hours away from my grasp. 'At least I still have a 17 year old son at home,' I told myself for reassurance. While he is still in the nest, it is essentially empty since he is never home. He finds it much more cool to hang out with his girlfriend, other friends or even his truck. Unlike his sister, who was attached to her mother's hip for 18 years, I barely see him.
I wish I could be like the proverbial mother bird who pushes her babies out of the nest to fly. While I try to be like that, I want to clip their little wings and feed them homemade goodies until they are as fat as ostriches and can't fly. Is that so wrong?
One of my good friends, who has been a source of guidance through many of my life crisises, has sternly advised me to clip that umbilical cord and be happy for my daughter's new life -- essentially let her make her own mistakes and learn from them. To a small degree, I agree. I am thrilled for her happiness, but still sad that she cannot be a daily fixture in my life. I want her home with me, cooking good stuff, shopping, sleeping late, watching movies and painting our toenails.
But my human, selfish side doesn't believe a mother ever really cuts the umbilical cord. I am of the belief that thing can stretch around the world if it has to. Although my friend is correct that, unless given the opportunity to live and learn, a child will be permanently needy. I suppose, as a mother, I secretly like that part too.
I just can't get over her move, and frequent trips back and forth to Conway -- she needs me again because she is stuck in her new home while her husband works out of town -- just aren't enough.
One thing that has comforted me through all this change and pain is the belief that God always has a plan. Boy does he. Nothing prepared me for the surprise I was given last week.
My daughter announced to me -- via text message -- that I was going to be the "G -- word." A grandma? No way! That word implies varicose veins, green eye shadow, polyester, blue hair and bingo. I immediately vowed that I was not going to ever let the G -- word pass my lips, much less allow that new bundle of joy to refer to me in that manner. My new obsession quickly became coming up with a cool, trendy non-G-word name. I've decided I will be "Mimi,"
The good thing is, this 40-year-young high cholesterol riddled, photography crazed, wedding planning, dieting madwoman now has baby preparations to keep her busy. There are scrapbook supplies to buy. I am just nine months from being "Mimi." What a transition.
The end of the umbilical cord that I was never going to cut is going give birth to another umbilical cord, which she too will never cut. I can't wait to hear her quote my infinite wisdom to this new little bird. I can't wait to see her take the coolest snacks to school, spending hours making icing glue for reindeer antlers, going shopping moments before a store closes the night before every "I need something to wear" event that occurs for the next 18 years. I relish the thought of sitting back in my recliner and listening to the stories of how many times that little bird does the exact opposite of her mother's suggestions, and hates every article of clothing she picks out because, "It is so 2010."
I suppose there is always a reason for every rhyme and a little bit of right in every wrong, so, with the birth of this new little bird, I am more than excited to open a new chapter, and fill my nest instead of emptying it. This kid is going to be so spoiled it will make her mommy recall just how good she had it.
My hope is that my children will finally understand why I want my little birds in their nest every chance I get. I now realize that, even if they have to fly away and come back as big as ostriches, they will be back, and bring other little birds with them.
So, for now, Mimi is off to try to come up with a hip name for Pawpaw because the "G-word" isn't flying with him either.