“I’m moving out as soon as I can,” my 8-year-old daughter said to me before she slammed the door to her room. My son and I stood in her dust and looked at one another. “Don’t worry, Mommy,” he said, “I’m never moving out.”
I’m not sure which terrifies me more. The idea of them leaving, or the idea of them staying FOREVER.
There are days, moments, when I can’t wait for them to grow up and get out. Days when I fantasize about how clean my house will be. How little laundry and dishes I will have to do when they’ve both flown the coop. My life will be mine again, and it will be amazing.
How is it that the chaos of children can simultaneously fill my heart and drive me absolutely nuts? How is it that I can want my kids by my side and want them far, far away (or at least in bed) at the same time?
I’ve jokingly made my children swear that they won’t leave town when they grow up. We talk about how they’ll buy the houses flanking mine so I can have one on each side of me, just like I do when we’re holding hands walking down the street. I joke. But I’m not really joking.
My husband and I live far from any family. It’s a sad casualty of modern life; the sprawled, estranged family. I don’t want that when my kids grow up. I want them here, close, beside me. Just messing up their own houses, not mine.
I know deep down that’s a selfish want. Who knows where their lives will take them? Maybe my daughter will want to be an Arctic explorer. My son an African diplomat. I can’t ask them to give up their lives to fill mine. As much as I want to.
Last night a dear friend sent me a video of Maya Angelou talking about her mother. Dr. Angelou spoke about the love her mother had for her. How her mother liberated her with that love. She spoke of the moment she moved out of her mom’s house; a new mom herself at only 17. Her mother didn’t try to hold on. She didn’t judge. She said:
When you step over my door sill, you’ve been raised. You know the difference between right and wrong. Do right. Don’t let anybody raise you and make you change. And remember this, you can always come home.
I cried when I watched the video. I cried because liberating someone with your love is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Telling your children, “GO. Be great. Live your life” is an act of love.
Maya Angelou went on to say that her mother liberated her to life. I love that. I want to liberate my children to life. I want to liberate them to be magnificent. I want to prepare them, teach them, help them … and then let go. As terrifying as that moment will be, I know one day, I’ll have to let go.
But before they go, I want them to know that they can always come home. If life gets them down, I’m here for them. And I will be to my dying day.
Rest in peace, Maya Angelou. You were an inspiration.