Nothing in the world prepares a woman for what happens to her heart when she becomes a mom. Nothing.
Yesterday at the airport, I waved goodbye to my older daughter after she went through security on her way back to college. This is the fourth such goodbye, and I thought it would be easier over time, but it’s not. In fact, this one was as hard as the first. It surprised me. (Ohhhhh…..here come the tears again!)
It’s all good stuff. She’s happy. Doing well. Making good decisions. Surrounded by solid friends and an active Catholic life. Then why is it so hard, and why is my heart so heavy?
First, I think it’s because we love so much. As moms we pour ourselves into our children. We sacrifice and give. We laugh and cry. We hold them and we let them go. We remember their first steps like it was yesterday, and as hard as it was in those younger years, we yearn to scoop them up like they are babes, but we just can’t do that anymore. That time is gone, and it will never be back. It is a bittersweet parting.
Second, I think it’s because with each passing goodbye, we get closer to the final goodbye when they are launched and living on their own as adults, and with each passing goodbye, we know it will never be the same again. One day they will marry and start a family of their own. We remember doing that ourselves and only looking forward, never looking back. It never dawned on me how hard it must have been for my mom. Now I know in a way I never imagined.
Third, I think it’s because it’s hard to envision what life will be like on the other side. As moms, we are so enmeshed in the day-to-day and being available to meet the needs of our families that we don’t really look too far out because it always changes. I remember before she arrived having a hard time imagining what life would be like as a mom at home, especially after 10 years of work. Now, I struggle to imagine life at work after all the time at home. Now I seek a future for me. I haven’t entertained that thought for a long, long time.
Adoption has taught me that our children are God’s first. He created them for His purposes and for His honor and glory. He entrusts them to us for a time, to form them and prepare them for the work He has prepared for them in the world (Eph 2:10). We pray that they have the grace to know and to do His will and that they stand firmly at the center of His will because that is the best place for them to be. When we let them go according to His plan and purpose, we, too, stand in the center of His will – sometimes sobbing from the pain.
This brings me to our own heavenly mother, Mary. She lived life as a woman and mom like we do. She, too, had to let go, and no doubt cried many tears along the way. She knew, like us, that we must surrender our children to the Father’s will because it is the best place to be. She sobbed at the foot of the cross.
So, I look to her as a role model to help me to surrender to the Father’s will. One of the first times we see Our Lady after the crucifixion is in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14). She prays with the apostles awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I, too, must do the same. I need to reach out to others so I don’t have to carry this burden alone, and I must pray and wait. God will do the rest, including taking care of my daughter, showing me His plan for me, and mending my aching heart.
The house was empty when I returned from the airport yesterday. I went upstairs only to see that my daughter had finally cleaned her room. She later told me that she cleaned it “just for me.” It won’t be a mess again until she returns in May. I knew, too, that one day, it will stay clean for a long, long time. I cried. I think Our Lady cried right beside me. Following her example, I turn to the Lord in prayer:
Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my cry!
May your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits
and I hope for his word. (Ps 130:1-2,5)
Come Holy Spirit. Anne