WHEN YOU ARE PARENTING little ones—changing diapers, wiping away boogers, dealing with temper tantrums—you wonder if you will ever have time for yourself again, even just a minute alone to go to the bathroom in peace.
Then, before you know it, your babes are off to kindergarten and the 24/7 parenting eases, even though you never truly stop parenting.
Several years later you are thrust into the turbulent teens which, in many ways, resemble the terrible twos you thought were left behind.
But soon enough, you are sitting on hard bleachers in a stuffy and crowded high school auditorium, a lump in your throat, tears rimming your eyes as your 18-year-old graduates. And in that moment you realize that your child, your baby, has grown up, just like that.
That realization particularly strikes me this February, the month in which my eldest and my youngest were born a day shy of eight years apart.
My son, my youngest, started college this past summer, 300 miles away in North Dakota.
His oldest sister fell in love this past year with a native Californian and I thought for awhile that she, too, might leave Minnesota like her brother and sister before her. But instead, the boyfriend moved here, to the Twin Cities.
Distance marks, for me, the most difficult part now of being a mother. Distance equals separation and not seeing my kids as often as I would like. Even though we talk on the phone, text and e-mail, that just is not the same as face-to-face communication or giving them a hug.
I joke to them that I should have locked them in the basement, not allowed them to go anywhere. But they know I jest because I have always encouraged them to pursue their dreams, to travel, to be adventurous. And they are, all three of them.
The eldest is spending her birthday in LA. The son will be celebrating in Fargo. And shortly after those birthdays, the other daughter will drive the 300 miles from northeastern Wisconsin back to Minnesota to board a plane for Argentina, 6,000 miles away. I try not to think about that distance, about her last visit there, when she was mugged.
Instead, I will focus on how blessed I am to be the mother of these three, to have nurtured and loved them, to delight now in the adults they have become, to cherish each moment I have with them.
On the birth days of my children, I experienced a love unlike any other, for in their births I understood the enduring depths of a mother’s love.
Happy birthday to my two February babies! I love you now and forever.
To my other girl, I love you too. And remember, “home” is in the Midwest, not South America.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling