Today I cried at the grocery store, which is odd because I am not one to show my weaknesses and emotions to people I don’t know. But, there I was standing in front of the cake lady who looked uncomfortable trying to pretend not to notice the tears welling up in my eyes. She asked me again, “Would you like us to put ‘Class of 2018’ on the cake as well?”. I wiped my eyes quickly and tried to convince myself she hadn’t noticed. “Yes, yes please,” I responded, my voice wobbling. She started telling me that this is her son’s last week of grade school, breaking any delusions I had that she hadn’t seen me get emotional. She looks the same age as me. My daughter is months older than I was when I had her and now she’s graduating from High School.
I finished ordering the cake and walked out to my car. Before I placed the keys in the ignition, I lost all capability of holding in my emotions. To calm myself and quit the tears I focused on why I was crying. The best way to control things is through understanding them, feelings and reactions included. I was never the emotional mom, I never went in and took pictures on the first day of school, never cried when I dropped my kids off for their first day of Kindergarten. So, why was my first-born graduating sending me into unexpected emotional overload? I spent the rest of the afternoon at my desk thinking of all the possible reasons for my reaction.
I’ve concluded that I am sad that I haven’t lived up to my expectations as a mother, I feel sorry for the loss of abundant opportunity to create more traditions and memories that comes when a child lives within the household. I spent eighteen years striving for structure and stability. Every year telling myself, next year I’ll get it together, next year I’ll have the money and time to do more together. When they’re walking, when they’re talking, when they’re teens, on and on it went, and now those opportunities to give them the childhood they deserved and opportunities to be the mother I hoped to be are dwindling. I do not fear the loss of my baby; she will forever be my baby. I fear the loss of opportunity to share that with her every day, see her grow and learn and change every day. I am sad not to be a part of that process every day like I have been for eighteen years.