As Our Kids Get Older, We Get a New Always

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Just Doing Life, Loss and Grief, Parenting, Relationships, Teenagers | 0 comments

My daughter decided at the last minute to come home for the weekend. She had only been back one night since January so she needed the respite that only home can provide.

We loved on her, and she loved right back. We made her favorite cinnamon rolls, had lunch with her Nana and went for Italian food that she had been craving. She got a pedicure, caught up with a bestie, and played with her dogs. She cuddled up in “her spot” on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket, watching TV…. just like she always does.

All felt right with the world.

For some reason, having her home brought me a sense of peace I didn’t know was missing. She came for her exhale but in truth, it gave me an unexpected exhale as well.

After she left, I stripped her sheets to start the wash. I find comfort in the goodbye ritual I do every time one of my kiddos sleeps at home. Call me crazy but it feels like a rite of passage, a reminder that they have left and it’s time to prepare for the next time they land at home. I believe clean sheets fall under the heading of life’s simplest pleasures, so I love to offer them a comfy nest to lay their tired bodies when home calls them back.

Perhaps it gives me something to look forward to. I pray that this goodbye will lead to a future hello and fresh sheets will help welcome them back. Fingers crossed.

But for some reason, this time the goodbye hit harder than usual. I missed her the moment she drove away. Her bed looked empty, and I felt that emptiness in a way that surprised me.

She’s my third. The last little chickee to fly the nest. Shouldn’t I be an expert at this goodbye stuff by now? Shouldn’t the pangs of parenting no longer put an ache in my heart? I know she will be back soon so one would think it wouldn’t faze me, but for some reason, it stung deeply.

College kids come and go, but mostly they just go. They come back– for days or weeks even– but it’s not for Always. They return for intervals or brief increments of time, breaks or holidays but not for Always. And that’s just what we miss.

The Always. Always seeing their faces. Always saying good morning. Always saying good night.

As our kids get older, the Always changes. And part of that change involves saying goodbye when they leave to live their life, the way we always prayed they would. Parenting is a challenge, no matter what age our “kids” are, but we must jump on the change-train that embraces new Always…or we get left behind. Some days I ride it eagerly, with a smile on my face and excitement for what lies ahead. Other days are harder because I know that time does not turn back and I long for the Always I took for granted when my kids were younger. I guess that’s just how life is supposed to be- not easy but lived. And living means accepting the waves that sometimes life is rough and sometimes life is beautiful. We Always love and miss our kids but some days, it just hits harder.

That’s an Always I got on board with.

I have come to realize and accept that goodbye is part of both the rough and the beautiful. It’s part of the new Always. From the passing of my dad to launching my kids, good-byes are inevitable, but also not the end. It forces us to look back and reflect on the journey we took together and the memories we take with us. It serves a purpose to make us grateful and offers an opportunity to express both our emotions and our love. Good-byes simply mean I’ll miss you, until we meet again. It’s a way to honor the relationships we have cultivated and reinforce the bonds that transcend time and distance. It reminds us that goodbye, no matter how joyous or painful, is a gift.

As the wise and soulful Winnie-the-Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.

Always Winnie, Always.


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