Yesterday, I left my Hannah Bea far away to be an adult in a different province again.
Too far away to draw on her back when she can't sleep, give her hugs when she needs her daily dose and cook for her when she is too lazy. All normal mom things that I engaged in for the vast majority of my own adult life.
Last year was her first year away and was incredibly hard. I lost 2 of my babies at once, as Lily Michaela Tova went in the opposite direction to start her new adult life at school, in an apartment with strangers who have since become her new family.
This is what I wanted: happy, excited, confident, resilient kids who have become happy, excited, confident, resilient young adults.
Who now know the merits of taking the garbage out themselves, paying a little more on quality paper towels, checking the price tags on groceries before buying staples and knowing the great pleasure of indulging a little on some days and gifting themselves a treat.
And yet, yesterday as I left Montreal, I was so sad and didn't stop crying until at least Cornwall.
"Oh mom, you're so dramatic", Hannah said when she called to check on me.
Raising kids for 20 years and leaving them to be their own real-life standalone individuals in charge of their own hydro bills and expiration dates IS dramatic. It's not just a very important transition for them but, in its second year, it has a finality about it that is both sad and incredibly liberating.
I did it, I raised kids who can survive if left to their own devices. Granted, UberEats might be part of their survival strategy, but so be it. Times have changed. Just not on my card, please.
The problem with sometimes struggling with depression is that you second guess your own responses to normal life experiences. Is my sadness warranted and normal, or is it a foreboding of the uncontrollable darkness that can sometimes descend for no reason and no clear endpoint?
But, yes, I cried and I might cry again today and tomorrow and maybe a few specific moments next month when I miss you, baby Hannah, and my Lily Bean. And confront parenting a wanna-be 16 year old rapper who merely grunts at me most of the time in the absence of his sister-allies.
This IS normal sadness and happiness and all the feelings that fall between. It is a good sign -- one of a mom who was connected and committed to being a mom and who is happy/sad to see their successes and my own.
Successes that mean they move away from me and onto their own lives and I become a little more of a peripheral player.
So to that, I proudly raise my tear-stained face, take a deep breath and continue to work on my happy, excited, confident, resilient self I forgot about whilst raising my kids.
Happy/sad back to school to all the parents sending off their kids. You done good.
Written by: Alana Salsberg