Not Your Children

Dear Mother who thinks that somehow your pain–the breaking of your heart when a child grows up and is ready to leave home–is somehow more painful, more deserving of your manipulation, that your heavy guilt-tripping is justified, that making your daughter feel responsible for your own emotional well-being is somehow okay, get a clue.

Your pain is not more overwhelming. Your need of her is not more justified. Your mother role is not more compromised, more confusing, more uncertain. Your fear for her success and safety is not more acute than another’s. Most of us labor and writhe to find the courage to give a hug, to smile and then wave our goodbyes. To mother is to relinquish. We pray our goodbyes, we cry hot tears in private after bestowing our blessing and urging our kids to please be safe. Please come home to us again whole and unbroken. Knowing that when we see our son, our daughter again, they will walk with a limp. They will be too thin, or too exhausted, too bent with stress and responsibility. The world will not have treated them fairly. And we will kiss them, and feed them and do what little we can to heal them before hugging, smiling and waving again.

And we are shattered by this fleeting gift, because we are able to hold them again. And we know of mothers who never will.

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you, but not from you and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”  Kahlil Gibran