WE CAN DO THIS

The problem with raising your children to be strong, independent, interesting people who not only believe they can accomplish great things but also feel equipped to do so is that then they go off and do them.

And those great things don’t always happen within a 10 mile radius of your living room.

Wait. Stop. Rewind!!

No one warned me about this. You guys! What have I done??

My first-born sweet pea has spread her wings and left. Not just for the semester (which was hard enough, believe me). She moved. Evacuated. Relocated.

She doesn’t live here anymore.

She has moved to Chicago, and the only thing she left behind is a box of keepsakes in the attic, one wall of her inspiration clippings (which I had to talk her into leaving), a roomful of dustballs, and a plant named Fronda that apparently requires a shower once a week.

I’m not sure I’m cut out for this.

I know how to keep a daughter alive, but not a plant that needs a shower.

And the worst part is this girl isn’t just my daughter.

She is one of the most inspiring people in my life.

She helps me see that I can be more and do more than I ever thought I could. She brings a creative energy into this world that’s contagious and irresistible. She is a flurry of dreams and potential, and it’s impossible to see the world as small when you’re around her.

And, also… She is one of my best friends.

I never, ever expected she would be. She was definitely not my “friend” in her growing up years, haha.

She always (ALWAYS) ran directly in the opposite direction whenever I came to pick her up from daycare or a friend’s house or anywhere. While the other kids were gleefully yelling, “Mommy’s here!!”, my daughter would require coaxing to even acknowledge my presence.

She stopped letting me touch her hair or any of her outfit choices around age two.

The other day I found an angry list she wrote me at age 11 titled “Things Mommy Won’t & Will Let Me Do”, including “I can’t have coffee” and “I have to save up for my own college” and “AND A TON MORE.”

In her entire first (and only) year of college, she called me one time. One. And, although her school was just 10 miles away, she never once came home unless it was an official school break where she was basically kicked off campus.

All of that was fine. (When I say fine, I do not mean easy, people. I mean fine.) I truly had no expectations otherwise. I knew my daughter and I knew she needed her space when she needed her space, and she needed me to be there for when she needed me to be there. I knew and treasured my role as her mom.

And I knew she loved me.

But somewhere along the line… I discovered she liked me.

I think she discovered this as well.

We found that we both like so many of the same things. Like creativity and beauty. And camping out for hours on end at coffee shops to dream, and create, and write. And geeking out on the Enneagram and our INFJness. And The Crown and Stranger Things and Schitt’s Creek. And giggling. And snuggling. And Chicago.

This friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever received. Almost as wonderful as getting to share everyday life with my young adult daughter-friend for the past two and a half years while she lived down the hall and paid off her school loans, and kicked off her career, and plotted her dreams.

I treasure that gift with my whole heart.

And now I’m finding that it seems to be time to share this gift with the world.

This wasn’t my choice. I don’t like it. At all.

But it’s what I really always wanted.

Apparently this is what being a mother is?

They don’t tell you this when you hold that little bundle of joy in your arms. Or maybe they do but you just can’t fathom it at that point. Anyway, I’m not ready to start preaching this revelation to the world – because I’m just now trying to absorb it for myself – but I’m starting to realize that so many gifts we are given are not ours to keep forever.

Especially the best ones.

Dang it and sigh.

xxxooo

___

P.S. I will say more about all of those amazing things Alex is doing in Chicago. Because it’s kind of blowing my mind. But first I just need to sit here for a moment with all the feels and the dustballs.

(Also it’s been a week now so I guess Fronda needs a shower?)

Here’s to letting go, friends. (I think) we can do this.

12 Comments

  • Julie

    Kristen – exactly. xo

     
  • Kristen

    We raised them to fly but when they do, oh my.

     
  • Julie

    Gloria – boohoooooo. Seriously. Why do they keep leaving?? Big hugs. xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Oh, Heather! I know you know how this feels. Lots of love to both of us. And apparently plant naming is the thing that fabulous creatives do. xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Lori! Thank you so much for your generous words. I do hope I did at least a few things right with my daughter – but I sure don’t feel I can take much credit. I’m just honored I’ve been along for the ride. Now let’s hope I can do okay with Fronda. xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Lydia – Your words are so soothing and full of grace. Totally blessed me. I’m off to give Fronda a shower right now. And maybe to cry again too. xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Amber – Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. Enjoy every moment with that sweet girl of yours!! And stay tuned for more about mine. xxoo

     
  • Gloria Carlson

    I’m with you dear friend. I just said goodbye (again) to the college girl. Why does she keep leaving when it’s so obvious to me that she belongs right here? 😉 I enjoy her so much… and I love watching all of her creativity bloom… and she’s my own dear baby girl… grown. Heartache and love.

     
  • Heather

    Beautiful, Julie! I can relate on many levels. So glad I am not the only one who names my plants- my kids think I am a little crazy about that one 😘

     
  • Lori Hunke

    This is fantastic Julie. You have obviously done a great job raising your amazing daughter! Good luck with the plant 😊 I love your shorts and longs.

     
  • Lydia Di Bene

    Thank you for sharing this piece your heart truly spoke to mine and yes you can do this your mother did.
    Hugs, give Fronda a shower, and cry if need be.

     
  • Amber

    Love this so much! Also, 😭😭😭 because I have a daughter too but am just starting out on the parenting journey. Thank you thank you for this beautiful post. Also can’t wait to hear about what she is up to as a person in the world!

     

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