Monday, July 29, 2013

When your little girls have gone

I was on the road that day, somewhere in Iowa, on my way to a five day intensive writing workshop with Margie Lawson, having a "deluxe continental breakfast." Not really sure what continent it might be from, but the coffee is fabulous.
But the topic of conversation on the TODAY show overhead was whether mothers and daughters can be best friends. They interview a set who are, at the same time the experts are horrified and gasping "no! No!"
This is a subject I've been thinking about for awhile. Not about being best friends with my daughters, but my relationship with them. As I've said before, most of my girls packed up and bailed for parts unknown. M picked the Navy, traveled the world, met The One, has a lovely family now living in Florida and soon to take off for foreign parts, if she has her way. B lives 2500 miles away in Nevada. K moved to North Carolina. (D is still in town, but she's so busy we hardly see each other!) It's hard to stay close from that distance.  They have their own lives. Mother isn't part of it.
I asked M recently if she'd done it on purpose, moved away to exclude me. She laughed and called me a "silly mom" and assured me it wasn't like that.
So many people I know in our small town live here forever. As do their parents. Children. Brothers. Sisters. Cousins. Even the ones once removed. Big family parties, cookouts, so on.  I see B doing this with her new family, and I'm glad she has the support.
So am I wishing they were too frightened of the "big world outside" to leave to stay home near me? Of course not. Maybe I've just done my job and sent them out, free and secure, to fly on their own, like any good mother bird.
At the same time, I resent only seeing them once every year or two. I wish they were close so we could do things together, so I wouldn't worry when they had hard times, so I could pop over with a pot roast when I knew they needed it.
Mary Quigley quotes Jonas Salk like this:
Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them. — Jonas Salk
She makes some good points in her piece on adult children. It's certainly not my intention to become a helicopter parent. I hate flying, for one. But I have grandchildren I hardly know, and all three of these girls are just slipping away in the passage of time. None of us knows how much time might be allotted to us. We might say, "Oh, someday we'll..." but we don't know whether we'll ever get that chance.
Meantime, I suppose, I should be grateful they're flying so successfully. If they don't need me then I've done my job, right? It makes sense. But sometimes it just doesn't satisfy my heart.

3 comments:

Caroline said...

Timely and well put. Babs, I cringe at thinking about my boys living so far away, but even close at hand (as one of your's does) doesn't mean being seen often. Thankfully there are all kinds of tech devices to stay in touch. So glad you're able to take it all in stride. Thanks for the reminder I need to be thankful for what I have.

Liz Flaherty said...

Very well said. What that quotation doesn't address is how much it hurts having those wings carved straight from own bodies.

Barbara Mountjoy said...

Thanks for your comments--glad to know someone understands.