Mother's Day is just around the corner, and it finds me in a reflective mood.
As a young mother, I celebrated new milestones and looked forward to future accomplishments. As a mom whose job is done -- child raised, launched and successfully navigating his world -- the smallest things, remnants of our shared past, lurk in every corner of my memory.
Today, a brief conversation about well-used childhood blankets brought one such memory to mind. Two days before the space shuttle Challenger blew up, friends from work held a baby shower for me. One of the gifts was a green receiving blanket -- the very one we used to wrap up my son and bring him home from the hospital.
This blanket became my son's anchor, the one thing he had to have when he went to bed at night and the first thing he reached for every morning. Before he spoke his first real words, there was something he used to say all the time: Ahdeedah. It finally dawned on us that it was his name for his blanket.
Ahdeedah became a household fixture -- and one I had trouble separating him from. On one memorable occasion my efforts to spirit it away for a much needed washing resulted in his stubbornly standing by the washing machine until the cycle had finished. Another time, he realized he'd forgotten it when we were about 5 minutes away from a weekly meeting I attended. I thought his howling would stop by the time he joined the other kids in the nursery, but 5 minutes into my meeting, the caregiver came to get me: he would not be consoled.
By the time he went to kindergarten, he no longer relied as much on having his blanket nearby at all times. I was the one who insisted he take it with him for nap time during his all-day kindergarten. And the inevitable happened: just a couple of days into the school year, he left it on the bus. We talked to the driver and the bus company, but we never found it again.
For him? That was that. In a peculiar reversal of roles, it was he who was willing to let it go and I the one who cried.
Many years now separate me from that memory. Yet on the brink of a cross country move that will put many miles between us for the forseeable future, I see all the ways parenting is one long exercise in saying goodbye. That first eagerly anticipated step begins a process that takes our children ever further away from us, one way or another. And they are always more ready for that journey than we are.
For someone who's never looked back on the past with regret, this later life nostalgia always catches me by surprise. It's different from sadness. It's not about wishing that time could stand still, or wanting to be the center of my son's life as I was when he was little. It's more about finally understanding and appreciating the ties that bind, seeing all the connections that weren't visible before.
And appreciating them in all their beauty: a rich tapestry of our lives together. One that we're not done weaving.