An Early Winter

An Early Winter

When my oldest daughter started High School I knew it was a big deal. And I knew what was coming; a deluge of all the emotions that frequently flood the landscape of motherhood; excitement, melancholy, pride, joy, satisfaction and of course, that heavy cloud of heartbreak.

But, the summer came and went and skies remained sunny. And on the first day of school…the first week even…the weather system seemed stable. Although I knew it was a big deal, I didn’t really feel it. Why should I? My daughter was ready for this…happily navigating her way through the land of young adults with confidence and finesse.  

So when would it would this pattern shift for me? When would I feel the cool breeze of change?

Let’s just say storms can roll in pretty quickly.

It’s not really a surprise that I’ve had some gloomy moment since the school year began. I expected it.  I figured it would be because my baby was growing up. But, I’ve gotten used to that. It’s been happening now for over 13 years. This time the rain has come from a different direction. My daughter’s new schedule keeps her so occupied, so busy, that she’ away at school more than she’s home. That’s new. And different. And agonizing. I know what this is. I’m feeling the biter chill of loss.

I miss my daughter being home. I miss sunny afternoons and after school snacks. I miss chatting, easy laughter and free time. I miss bickering and even snickering. I miss my daughter. I really really miss her.

So, this is it. The new climate of motherhood. I know it won’t always feel like such a shock to my system but right now, I’ll keep my scarf on. I’m sure that like all seasons, this one will change. Or maybe I’ll just get more used to it. For as much as I know now to expect some tumultuous winds, I also know there are plenty of warm days and sweet breezes too. I’ll be holding out for those.

Just as I am accustomed to watching my baby grow up into the beautiful young women she is becoming, I suppose that little by little I’ll get a little more used to her being gone so much. I don’t know how long it will take but I’ll be waiting. At least I know that with each moment of me missing her, it will make the springtime of her being home, that much warmer.

  • mosey (kim)
    Posted at 05:49h, 17 September Reply

    oh these rites of passage, just as momentous for us as they are for our children. Painful yet joyous at the same time. Beautifully told.

  • georgia
    Posted at 05:50h, 17 September Reply

    perhaps these feelings during high school are there to soften the blow for when they go off to college? i don't know. i don't have grown kids, so it's not my place to say. but when i thought of writing something to the effect of … "these four years will go more quickly that you can imagine", i realized, "oh, after that, they go off to college, though." and then it dawned on me… maybe that's how you get through when they leave for college… by getting a small taste of it now while they are in high school.

    i'm not sure that i will feel the same with my son when he goes to high school as i would if i had a daughter instead. but i will probably feel a sense of void, especially since he will most likely be our only child.

    what a perfect photo to illustrate your feelings about this. i didn't comment on your last post, but the photos of her first day of school were just amazing! she is so blessed to have a mom that is documenting all these special moments of her life… and even the non-"special" moments… just the everyday.

  • fiona jones
    Posted at 11:09h, 17 September Reply

    Your writing is beautiful…thankyou so much for sharing your thoughts…My children are 17 and 15, and the letting go has not been easy…x

  • sperlygirl
    Posted at 13:07h, 17 September Reply

    so beautiful, honest, and understood. 🙂

  • sherilee
    Posted at 01:11h, 18 September Reply

    Thank you for your words.

    I have been feeling much the same with my only boy going to high school this fall. We have the added complication of a joint custody situation, so I already feel loss a great deal of the time… high school hasn't been that big of an adjustment, and he and I have a really lovely relationship (so far, knock on wood). But I feel like if I'm not careful I will wish away these next four years by feeling them already gone, and then he's off into the great unknown of college. Sigh.

    Hang in there, and I'll do the same. 🙂

  • Marcie
    Posted at 20:04h, 18 September Reply

    I wish I could promise that you'll get used to the quiet absences. They become more and more as they grow. You've written about it here so beautifully. Definitely a right of motherhood passage..and the good stuff of life!!!

  • Dalyce
    Posted at 22:13h, 18 September Reply

    My son is turning 16 in March, and so I too know this feeling of loss you are experiencing. The year he was 13 was the hardest year in so many ways, but mainly due to the LARGE level of letting go that I had to do. Letting go is never easy, but during the teen years, the etting go becomes akin to losing a limb via traumatic force. It seems sudden and more intense than all of the prior years of letting go combined.
    Alas, I can say that they do return and it is (for us anyhow) more sweet than ever, because now I have this person who is so much more himself than ever, and he cherishes time with me more now than ever.
    A mother's love will ever be the light that guides the children home again.
    Blessings to you and your daughter.

  • blissmamaof3
    Posted at 00:34h, 19 September Reply

    Oh Tracey,

    Here I was so impressed with the grace you showed in handling this HUGE transition and yet your heart is breaking. Mine is too this year as my youngest just started school and he's gone all day. The silence is deafening. I spend a lot of time outside because I'm not used to being alone so much of the day. Thank goodness for my dogs to make some noise. I'm really looking forward to The Art of Composition and truly hoping it helps me fill my time and cope with this new reality. Please know I'm with you. It's an early winter around here as well.

  • Trish
    Posted at 16:21h, 19 September Reply

    This ripped me half….love to you….


  • Sheri
    Posted at 14:18h, 22 September Reply

    What a hard job we have – to raise them and love them and teach them – all so they can succeed without us! I guess when they begin to detach (in a healthy way), it means we've done a good job. But it is SO bittersweet.

  • Phyllis
    Posted at 03:38h, 23 September Reply

    You expressed the bittersweetness of mothering so well … teaching them to be independent and then having to let them be independent. My daughter leaves in two weeks to begin a career in the Army. After she moved out last year, I was so lonely, even though she lives about 5 miles from our house. I'm dreading her move to Texas, then next year she goes to Korea. But she's such a smart, capable person, I know she'll do well. My heart goes out to all mothers going through these transitions.

  • Swirly
    Posted at 18:37h, 23 September Reply

    There are so many ways to miss someone, but no matter what it looks like, it is still a tough place to be.

  • kristin
    Posted at 13:55h, 26 September Reply

    i so understand this feeling. it is a loss. a breaking away. i do think it is so that in 4 short years when high school is over and she is then looking toward college it helps. high school is a tiny bit of preparation for us mommas for the even bigger pulling aways to come.
    xo to you mama heart.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 05:44h, 29 September Reply

    Absolutely beautiful words and photo. I dread those feelings and years — but I do have awhile, as my little one is 2 and another expected to arrive in February. But I do already want them to stay little forever — and I find myself emotional about it all the time. So I guess I do understand what you are going through — all of us Mothers feel this way at all ages of our childrens' lives. It is a special feeling though.

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  • Cecilia
    Posted at 20:29h, 10 November Reply

    So genuine and honest. My little girl is almost two and I tell myself to savor each moment because some day I will not wonder why she is so clingy, but rather why she is never around.

    Lovely blog…a recent find I'm very happy about 🙂

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