This is part of a new series of short ‘fleeting feelings’ articles based on the thoughts and emotions that often arise when we are living away from our families. This one is about missing our mums and parents, and understanding how it must feel to have their children live so far away from them.
My three year old daughter is growing fast. I was recently watching her sleeping, as I so often do, and thinking about how watching our children ‘grow’ is a strange sentiment as a parent. The shifts in development are, while significant, so continuous that rarely do we see them entirely consciously. It’s only looking back on photos, or in spare, rare, moments of reflection, that their leaps in development become so apparent. As I thought about this, I had a strong, yet imagined and momentary, visualisation of my daughter stood facing me fully grown, telling me she was leaving home. For a few seconds it felt like I was really there. I looked at her gorgeous face with her still curly hair. She was taller than me but still so much my treasured, innocent and adorable baby. And in that moment I experienced an intense physical sense of how I will feel when she’s ready to go. I felt a deep ache. But I realised that the real definition of a decent parent is the decision, when the time comes, to let them leave without expecting anything in return. Because if we are really the self-sacrificing, liberating and unconditionally loving parents we think we are, what begins as a largely selfish act must end with an entirely selfless one. We must find it deep within ourselves to let our children go and find themselves. Knowing that, while they will always be the centre of our world, we won’t always be the centre of theirs. And I thought about my own mum, and how it must feel to have your child emigrate. To have all those years with your child so close and then be away from them almost everyday. And I cried a little. Because while our mums (and parents) may not be the focus of our adult lives, they are the most important and influential individuals of our lifetimes. And it’s the strongest, selfless and most successful mums that know, after many years of giving our guidance; for our grown children to fully grow, we must truly let them go.
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