A long time ago I made a decision about the kind of mom I would be.
I made it at a time before I understood the importance of making such a choice for me and for my kids- and even for their kids.
It was as if I looked blindly into the future and somehow saw this slow good-bye coming and took a stand in the dark.
I have been a parent for nearly 27 years. I still don't know if it is best to eat dessert before, with, or after dinner. I don't know if you should pay your kids to do chores or if chores are just a part of belonging to a family. I don't know if I believe in homework, or after school jobs, or know the right age to begin to date.
The part I am sure of, the core of who I am as a mother orbits around a conversation I had with a nurse when I was a 17 year old child holding my 2 pound 7 ounce baby in the NICU.
If you are choosing to keep this baby from a 2 parent home, choosing to raise her, then you owe to her and to the parents who won't be getting her to do it right.... she does not belong to you, you will belong to her.
And thanks to that nurse whose name I have long forgotten, I have never seen my job as a mother any other way.
I raise my children to grow up and leave me. I raise my kids to live their lives no matter what that means. I expect them to follow their hearts and do what makes them happy. It has nothing to do with me.
As I watch my son gather his young family preparing to move them across the country I have to remind myself this is proof that I have kept my end of the bargain.
Of course no one wants them to go. No one wants to watch Baby's J little face disappear through the window. But this is their life and their adventure.
At 17 I signed up for this job knowing only one thing: that the hardest parts of parenting would be the moments when you have to let them go....it happens everyday in little ways. Them tying their shoes and closing classroom doors. The bicycle seat slipping from your hand as they peddle away on their own. College, marriage, and moving...
23 years ago this month I kissed Conner's tiny little face and promised to always take care of him. Inside that promise were all the tears of this good-bye. Conner, I love you to the black and back. I even love you all the way to Florida.