I Will Watch You Go

There is a famous picture of the gradual evolution of ape into man. Each transition is drawn to perfectly illustrate the different phases of change. Sometimes I feel like that’s how I’m watching Rosebud grow–a gradual evolution into adulthood.

My stomach turns at the thought of it and my heart does somersaults in my chest as each week, each day, every single minute she grows further away from me. And I watch her go. Because that’s what I’m supposed to do. As Rosebud’s mother my job is to cultivate in her that independence so that it can grow in the fertile soil of her heart and mind. But I selfishly I want to squash it. I selfishly want to hold her back beside me.

There’s not a word for when everything is nothing and all at the same time. And that’s probably because what I just said doesn’t make any sense. Motherhood turns life into one walking contradiction. The things that bring the most joy break our hearts. If I do my job right, Rosebud will grow up and will live her life. Every new milestone is something  to celebrate, but it’s one step closer to the jumping off point. And honestly, I wonder if any human’s soul can be strong enough for that much joy, fear, and pain bottled together in the perfect storm.

There are things I never knew until I met Rosebud. And things I wish I still didn’t know. My head understands that this is the way the journey must unfold. That the universe is stable. That I have to let her go. More importantly, that I have to let her live–to experience the beauty and the brokenness, perhaps especially the brokenness. But my heart…my heart is screaming “HOLD ON JUST ONE MINUTE LIFE, YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BABY.” I want to plead and bargain with God to pave the way for her–make everything easy, to spare her from any hurt.

But I watch her go. And sometimes the world feels as if it may suffocate me. But I stand back. And I let her climb up the steps and slide by herself; and I let her struggle with the straps on her shoes, and I teach her how to brush her own teeth and button her own buttons. And one day, I’ll let her sit behind the wheel and leave me in the rearview mirror. And one day, I’ll leave her in a dorm room crying. And one day, I’ll have to sit back and watch her fall and make her own mistakes and work hard and succeed. Because that’s life. Because that’s what moms do.

So I promise you this, Rosebud; despite all of the overwhelming joy and terror and helplessness and excitement and loss and beauty that I may feel about your life, I will watch you go. I will stand back when you want me to, and sometimes when you don’t, and I will watch you go. To your first day of school, and your driver’s test, and your first date, and college—I will watch you go. To your first job interview, and your first day in the real world and moving out of my home, I will watch you go.

But I’ll always be back there waiting–picturing you as the 6 lb, 14oz baby that came somersaulting into my life and turned my world on its head.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

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