ForeverJoy Designs

The long goodbye-


I am terrible at saying goodbye.  I’m the one at a party that has to set out at least a half hour before its really time to leave because saying goodbye takes almost as long as saying hello. I don’t like it. And chances are, if we were to meet, and then had a terrific time together- you could feel in my hug goodbye that it’s really hard for me to let go. It’s as if I wish I could push pause by squeezing a little tighter- and a little longer.
 I’ve always been that way I guess, even before my first heartbreaking goodbyes. I have drawers full of trinkets and notes and bits of memories of days long past that still give me a smile when I open them. I have a secret box in the attic filled with stuffed animals that I just couldn’t say goodbye to – a worn brown teddy that would comfort me when I was afraid in the dark- a soft stuffed kola given to me by my dad after he returned home from a long trip… perhaps that’s why I love scrapbooking so much. Having a photo and a story in my album means never having to say goodbye to that memory. I can keep it- hold it and relive it. Only hellos when you open a scrapbook. I like that.
But these days, I find myself in the middle of a very long goodbye.  It’s one that can’t be heard to many- but each night I hear it in my heart as I say goodnight to my boys. My older guy is a Junior in high school. Cars, college, real life- it’s all waiting for him right ahead in a short distance that it seems only I can see.
Each holiday, each little happy time together- I can’t help but wonder how many more we will have like this. How many more simple days together- how many more movie nights at home- weekend drives and hikes together?
Life is about to hit fast forward- and all I can do is buckle my heart and hold on tight. This is the end result I have worked so many years for.  Lessons on responsibility and empathy, rules and guidelines, late nights learning how to study, quiet mornings learning how to tie a little shoe, and then, later, a perfect Windsor knot…  it’s all been to raise a young man that will go out and do awesome in this world.  I know the next step will involve hard lessons, heart breaks, challenges and risks. And that heavy lessons make for strong adults.  There’s no shortcut to that.
But saying goodbye to the days gone by hurts. And each time I hug him goodnight- I find myself holding on a bit longer than he does,  as if I am saying- don’t grow. Stay little. Ride your bike and color with chalk and blow bubbles and sit with me as I read you a story.  I think this is why I so cautiously guard my little guy’s childhood. I know how very short the years are, and that the magical sweet time of childhood is really just a blink. Let him be little.
But that’s just a wish, and I know that’s not really what I want for either of my boys. I want them to grow and do well in this world- I want so much for them- travel, love, happy homes… but, I cant help but be a little sad at how very far that is from this little home we share- I know each day we have together is  gift, but in this mama’s heart, each day is a step further from a simpler time that only comes once in a lifetime.
And while there are so many awesome things ahead I hope I am blessed to enjoy with these two boys- I can’t ignore the goodbye that is whispered as each day falls into night, and they go to sleep- only to wake a little older, and a little further from childhood. The truth is, motherhood is the longest goodbye.

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  • Reply
    Dawn McDowell
    April 29, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Your words hit home for me. My oldest is 20 and we have been transitioning into his adulthood. He will be moving out on his own this summer and my heart is hurting and bursting with pride at the same time. My daughter will be a Junior in the fall and I feel like it is all going too fast. I have 2 more at home to cherish but they will be a sophomore and an 8th grader in the fall and that seems so close to grown up right now. Cherish the Mama moments over the next year and soak them up.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    These words resonate with me so much. My kids are 14 and 13 and each day they grow further away. They are tiny adults trying to find their way in life…away from me. While I encourage their dreams, which will undoubtedly take them away, I have to find solace in the fact that this is what they are meant to do. Though hard to let go…

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    yes! its such a bitter sweet feeling- and One minute Im so happy and proud- and the next- looking for kleenex!

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    wow!! you are going through the gauntlet to be sure! Isn't it funny how when the oldest was in 8th grade- that seemed so sol- but now- your 8th grader is the baby 😉 It's funny how many bittersweet mamas there are out there- we need to form a support group!

  • Reply
    Heather T.
    April 29, 2015 at 3:04 pm


  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    yah. i know. 🙂

  • Reply
    Vanessa McKelvey-Smith
    April 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    You made me cry girlfriend, for you, for your oldest son, for the feelings that poured out of this post. You really need to copy and paste this onto a blank canvas and dress it up with some pretties……and put it in your scrapbook. So moving….

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    You did it, girl. You made me cry again. My youngest has started the end of his high school life, as you know. It's award ceremonies, banquets and then commencement. I started crying last night. It's the end for me. My last one. I don't want to let go, but dang, this momma is proud of all of hers! (yes, there are lots of pages waiting to be scrapped!)

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    My heart goes out to you. It is tough to see these former little ones grow up to adulthood (it happens so fast!) But, I promise you, as the mom of an only child (a son) that just turned 30 – the goodbyes (survived the high school, college, marriage, and Afghanistan deployment goodbyes – not fun) will be far outweighed by the "hellos" of grandchildren down the road. And it is never really goodbye – it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with them, and I've learned no matter how old my son gets, he still needs his mom from time to time. They will too!

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks Vanessa- it's been on my mind for awhile now- 🙂

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I know you are right there with me Debbie – and yep- its that countdown- like an invisible clock that ticks away the milestones passed and never to be returned to that gets me… but at least I can look forward to running the race one more time with the little guy, God willing 🙂

  • Reply
    April 29, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Sandy- it helps to hear that. I love the idea of awesome hellos around the corner- but oh my goodness- the goodbyes you have said :(- I cant even imagine how hard that was. And yes- I know there will always be a place for Mom- and thats a comfort too 😉

  • Reply
    May 1, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I am, of course, sitting here crying after reading your post. Every word resonated with me. As we've talked about, our paths are so similar. I feel really blessed to be able to talk to you about this long goodbye and know that you understand perfectly the bittersweet, emotional swirl that is living in my heart at a mother these days. {{hugs}} xo

  • Reply
    May 1, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I KNEW you would get me on this ❤️ – I'm glad we have eac other to keep perspectivesas well as a sense of humor about it all! XO!

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