The box of girl’s clothing was sitting by the front door, ready for donating to the thrift store. Per my Mother’s Day “gift” request, my 13-year old daughter cleaned out her bedroom closet to sort through old clothing that no longer fit.
In my usual mom-like “quality-assurance check” manner, I knelt down and scanned the contents she assembled. The clothing inside the box began to tell the tale of a young girl’s life; pink ballerina tutus, corduroy jeans as long as my arm, and the oversized “goodbye” t-shirt that the 5th graders signed at their end-of-the-year school party.
I picked up the 5th grade t-shirt and began to slowly smooth it out on my lap. I stared at the faded signatures written with pink, blue, and yellow magic markers. What I was doing was finally saying goodbye to the elementary school years. Goodbye recess and Disney lunch boxes (“Please, Mom; only little kids carry Disney lunch boxes.”)
This lonely road was familiar to me as I had traveled it before. The toddler milestones came and went too, as I said farewell to Velcro shoes and summer afternoons reading to toddlers on the grass. What I began to realize was that no one ever told me that motherhood would consist of so many “little goodbyes.”
It seems these little goodbyes were probably the common experience of many parents. They certainly summarized my personal journey through motherhood pretty well. It reminded me of the Six Words Memoir movement, where a compelling life story is told within the constraints of a few short words. My little goodbyes defined my experience, starting right before the time my kids were even born. The litany of goodbyes began to fill my mind:
- Drinks at happy hour
- Date nights
- Exotic/ethnic food for dinner
- Burning candles throughout the living room
- Naps (mine)
- Baby bottles and diapers
- Strollers that take a Ph.D. to unfold
- Child-proof electrical sockets
- Naps (baby’s)
- Purses big enough to carry sippy cups and extra diapers
See you later:
- Disney princesses
- Bedtime stories
- Climbing into bed with Mom and Dad after a bad dream
- “Bad days” that couldn’t be fixed with either a popsicle or a trip to the playground
- Holding hands with Mom in public.
- Chaperoning field trips at school
- Shopping for birthday presents in the “Toy Section” of the department store
- School supply lists that require “a new box of crayons”
- Lollipops and stickers from the dentist’s office.
- Legos, Transformers, and Barbies
- Scout uniforms
- Collecting cans and bottles for recycling money
- Butterfly and stamp collections
- Bickering over who has to empty the cat’s litter box.
As I moved through the shadow of each completed little goodbye, I began to notice their unique duality; what once seemed like a hurdle, now seemed like “no big deal at all” as my kids grew up. Would it feel that same way once the next milestones waiting for me (Driver’s Ed, prom dresses/tuxedos, college application essays) were to come and go?
I knew I had a long way to go in my motherhood journey. There would be many more heralded moments, with their prerequisite goodbyes. These moments began to fill my mind as startled “Hellos?”:
- Slamming doors throughout the house
- Year-end Junior Varsity sports banquets to plan
- Lessons on makeup and high heels
- After school/part-time job applications.
- Clean clothes scattered all over the bedroom floor
- Lessons on driving a stick-shift car
- New boy/girl friend pre-date interview and curfew reminder
- Prom decorations to hang.
Greetings, I think…:
- SAT/ACT weekend prep courses
- Scholarships to apply for
- College acceptance letters
- High school graduation ceremonies.
Well, hi there:
- U-haul trailer in the driveway, to carry boxes away to the college dorm
- Apartment rental guides
- Deafening silence as wide as a field
- Drinks at happy hour and burning candles throughout the living room…
More About Marlene Smith
Currently writing in the parenting/children, food, and business niches. Previous works include guest blog posts, magazine articles, and B2B copy experience. Feel free to visit me at http://www.marlenesmithwrites.com.