Monday, November 7, 2016

Love Liberates

Today my firstborn babe turns 19. Nine. Teen.

Even when thousands of miles separate us, our hearts are always together.

I remember reading research about the way in which fetal cells migrate into the mother during pregnancy. Some of the cells of our baby's DNA stay with us and become part of our body. It is no wonder that we moms struggle so mightily with separation; our children are literally part of us.

And yet, my task this year has been to let her go, and more than that, to encourage her to fly far away. Mission accomplished. She has launched with my full blessing and support. And while I have grieved the distance between us, this sadness is tempered by my thrill at seeing her settling into her new life of young adulthood, and doing so well. When I complimented her impressive "adulting" during my visit to Wisconsin last month, she smiled and said, "it's easier to be an adult without you and Daddy around." Wonderful. That's the idea.

Of course, we all want our children to grow strong and happy, to earn their independence. In his book The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama said “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Even though the process may wound us, sometimes we show the greatest love and compassion by loosening the physical binds with the ones we cherish.

To me, Maya Angelou makes this point about unconditional love best: 

"You see, love liberates. It doesn't bind. Love says, 'I love you. I love you if you're in China. I love you if you're across town. I love you if you're in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I would like to have your arms around me. I would like to have your voice in my ear. But that's not possible now — I love you, so go.' Love liberates. It doesn't hold."

I wish I could be near my girl to help her celebrate her birthday today; I would love to wrap my arms around her. But I know that she's right where she should be, learning about compassion, discovery, and all the other adventures that await a 19-year-old woman.

Happy birthday, Boonie!

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