Tell the story, they say. Just tell the story.
About how you are a spoiled mama because your girls go to college eight blocks from home and how you know you’re spoiled and you don’t take it for granted. Tell about how you know that they will leave at some point and that’s OK.
Even though you may not like it, it’s still OK.
Tell the story about how Kate needed to go for a while. How we all agreed that she needed to do this, as hard as it might be.
Tell the story about how she decided in the last week, at the very last minute that she didn’t really want to go but that what she really wanted to do was to stay here with her friends for her senior year. And how she sat you down on the Monday before she was supposed to leave on Thursday and how she looked you in the eye and said, “I don’t want to go.”
Tell the story about how that crushed your soul. How everything in you wanted to keep her here—who needs to fly away anyway?—but how everything in you knew that the best thing for her would be to get out of her hometown for a little while. So you sat with her, listened, and then said, “You do not have a compelling reason to stay home. You don’t have a dad who is sick. Your family is not in crisis. You just don’t have a good reason.”
And then, how you said, “But you do have one compelling reason to go.”
“What’s that?” she said through arms tightly crossed over her chest and a slight sneer on her face.
“Because you signed up. You told them you were coming. You said you’d be there; people are counting on you. And God has things to teach you there.”
You signed up.
Tell the story about how you went to visit your girl last weekend and how much fun it was to be with her, how easy, and how much you wanted to pack her in your suitcase and take her right back home with you, but you didn’t. Instead you bravely hugged her and tried not to cry and said, “I’ll see you at Thanksgiving.”
While inside you were thinking, “Thanksgiving is so stinking far away.”
You signed up, mama.
You signed up for a lifetime of heart-tugs and breath-catches. You signed up for a lifelong battle with your own will that wants to protect your girl and shower her with stuff and make her feel good about herself when you know in your heart that the best thing for her is to let her go and not provide every blessed thing she might want and to sometimes tell the truth about who she is.
Tell the story about how you got on that homeward bound plane with a sinking, sad feeling inside and tears ready to spill. How you didn’t want to let go of her or leave her there or wait three long months before you stroked her beautiful, long, brown hair again.
Tell the story about how not a minute goes by that you're not thinking about your girls—all three—and praying that they are OK.
The story of motherhood is fraught with longing and tears and wonder. It’s a story that’s hard to tell, with emotions so deep they cannot be spoken. It’s a journey that wears you out with frustration and regret and love.
But it’s also fraught with high-fives from little victories and loud laughter and knowing that you both have done the right thing.
Not the easy thing, for the easy thing would keep her right here, tucked safely beneath your wing.
You didn't sign up for the easy thing. You signed up for the right thing the moment you became a mother.
The right thing. Because right is always better in the end.