You are leaving home today. I keep repeating that statement over and
over in my mind, trying to understand what it means. I have had your
lifetime to prepare for this, sometimes wanting it to come quickly and
sometimes hoping this day would never come. Most of the time though, I
have been preparing myself and preparing you, by madly gathering life’s
questions and answers in the hope that I haven’t forgotten anything. I
keep revising the list inside my head; checking off all the things I know I’
ve already told you – so many times.
As tempting as it is to slip a few of the big ones into a casual
conversation I correct myself and let it go. An image of your face appears
before me and I see your eyes look upward and your mouth tighten with
that expression of yours that we both know so well. “Mum I know – you
have told me a hundred times already.”
Well, you know me well enough to expect a letter tucked away in your
luggage with just a couple of pages of instructions about ‘keeping
yourself safe and healthy’. You might even expect to find food in there, a
little treat to keep you going. And lots of XXX’s scribbled on a note like
noisy kisses on your bare belly.
Protecting you and preparing you has been such a big part of who I am –
it’s hard to redefine myself and accept that my job is done.
I remind myself that this is about you, but as usual, here I am making it
about me again. Slightly neurotic, I find myself wanting to explain or
apologize or gain some kind of absolution from you. I want to go back into
your history and call myself to your attention and wipe the slate clean of
all my mistakes. I do admit that I have been selfish and hypocritical at
times, and I don’t want you to leave now thinking it was your fault or that
you didn’t deserve better.
Yeah, yeah, I hear you say ‘Don’t worry about it, it doesn’t matter”.
I have such an urge to tell you of promises I made, as you slept below my
heart all those years ago. So very real and profound to me and so
intense I’m sure I’d weep if I even tried to tell you. You of course, would
shift from one leg to the other and endure my disclosure with discomfort
Mini movies of first steps, first words and first everything else’s consume
me. Tooth fairies and Santa Clause and Easter bunnies. Little trophies,
wall posters, clay models and lego buildings.
I’m indulging myself, it’s my prerogative, but I have promised myself to
keep it all to myself. I want to reminisce, at a time when you have one foot
out the door. I’m going back to the baby and you are going forward to the
man. You have freedom, independence and adventure on your mind. I
know you are ready; capable, competent and smarter than I’ll ever be.
My attitude shifts as I accept you don’t need any precautions, no more
moralizing; no more “You know what you should do…”
And even though I have represented myself as parent and teacher I see
so clearly that I have also been the pupil. I have learned so much from
you, you have played such a large part in moulding me into the person I
am. You have taught me well and I thank you.
Now, I’m compelled to tell you of all the things about you that fills me with
pride and awe. Another long list of what you have achieved, the person
you are, your character and integrity. I want to place wishes on you and
insist that they all become true for you. I want you to stand at the head of
the table and have everyone who ever knew you, come forward and pay
tribute to you. But, you would hate that too.
It’s never about what you have done or anything that you are capable of
doing. It’s only ever about who you are; the real value is in the fact that
No, you don’t need to be told who you are or what you are capable of.
You don’t judge yourself by such things and I don’t want you to do that
either. You are your own person and you are comfortable in your own
skin, and at the end of the day, that tells me that I have done well. That
tells me, that you are ready for the world and the world will be better for
having you as a participant.
I really don’t need to tell you any of this - I even wonder now what impact
any of the words have ever had. I do believe that I have taught you by
example, but more than that, I think you have always known my heart.
The umbilical cord might just be symbology for the heart to heart
connection between mother and child.
When you leave today, I will light an imaginary candle and place it on the
window-sill. Think about it, if you wander into shadows or if you need to
lighten up. Let it always be your beacon.
And all in all, there are only two things left to say to you, “I am proud of
you and I love you.”
Copyright Sonya Green 2006
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