One Small Step, One Giant Leap… Again

Off she goes, into the wild, blue yonder

Off she goes, into the wild, blue yonder

Nothing makes a parent’s heart melt quite like their baby’s first, tottering steps into the safety of their loving arms.  Enjoy those moments, because as soon as your kids master walking, they start to run – away from you.

When they are babies, we are our children’s entire world.  Then the tentative steps of the toddler lead them to the wonderful, terrifying discovery that the world is much bigger than just Mommy and Daddy.  How much bigger dawns on them when they step into the great unknown of their first classroom.  Life moves forward in leaps and bounds once school starts and your baby’s feet are firmly set on the path of their own destiny.

Time is a juggernaut gaining speed at an alarming rate – junior high, high school, college; up, up and out.

Our 24-year-old daughter, Liz, left for a new job in California 12 days ago, on Mother’s Day.  It’s a wonderful opportunity with a company she loves.  She’s thrilled and we are excited for her.  Yet I realize with a sinking feeling that she is now more than half this big, wide continent away from me.  And it’s not the try-it-on-for-size, I’ll-be-back-home-in-a-couple-of-months move of young adulthood, but the bubble-wrap-the-wine-glasses and call-the-movers move that means it’s for realz.

Our 22-year-old baby, Gwen, graduated from college 5 days ago.   She’s still deciding what her next step will be, but she’s bound and determined that whatever it is, it won’t involve taking up residence in her old bedroom at home.

 My first blog post was about the pain of Gwen leaving for school, and now that leg of her life’s journey is over.   How can that be?   She was a 4-year-old traveling in her cardboard box time machine barely a day ago.  Last summer I lamented as I put her on a plane to England for a semester abroad.  Now she’s talking about getting a job playing the drums on a cruise ship.  Good God, what’s next? Will I be waving goodbye tomorrow as she boards the space shuttle?

My husband and I have raised two girls into young women who are our pride and joy.  Now they are taking giant leaps forward into their own brave, new worlds.  They strike out full of confidence and bright, shining dreams for their futures.  I am so proud.

It’s every parent’s hope that their children will be able to stand on their own, two feet.  But it’s the ironic truth that if you do your job right, they’ll use those feet to walk away from you.  That’s how it’s supposed to be.  You revel in their independence but at the same time, oh, how you miss them.


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89 Responses to One Small Step, One Giant Leap… Again

  1. franhunne4u says:

    Use your new freedom from family obligations wisely, do not waste your time in crying what you do not have anymore.

  2. Amen. I didn’t realize our kids are the same age. I’ve been very fortunate that all three of my girls found good jobs right in our own home town, so they all live within a couple of miles of home. Guess you’ll be videoconferencing a lot and/or racking up frequent flyer miles. You did a good job, Mom.

  3. So, her time machine works?

    My son’s cardboard transmogrifier did, too. It turned him into a sailor who lives 5585 miles away. But they’ll always be safe and sound in our hearts, won’t they?

    Congratulations and best wishes to you all on your new stages of the journey.

  4. Elyse says:

    What a lovely tribute to two fine girls. They will be with you and you with them, no matter how much distance is in between us. I actually became much closer to my Mom when I no longer had to listen to her advice, but wanted to. It was a startling discovery.

    You also made me feel grateful to have that lug of a son of mine who is (hopefully) spending his last summer in the basement!

    • pegoleg says:

      It’s all in the perspective. If you tell yourself the lazy lug who won’t clean up after him/herself will be gone in a very short while, it helps to appreciate them a little more and not yell so much. Or at least I hoped it worked like that a little.

  5. Laura says:

    That series of pictures is perfect.

  6. Aw, Peg, your sentimental side is showing!

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    “if you do your job right, they’ll use those feet to walk away from you.”—Yes! The fact that your daughters are moving so easily toward independence is a credit to you. Too many young adults today flounder. But I empathize with you. My oldest will be a senior in high school next year, and though I still have some time before he leaves the nest, it’s already dawning on me that the time is not far away. Hopefully I will prepare him as well as you have prepared your daughters.

    • pegoleg says:

      Now that they’re up and (pretty much) out it occurs to me all I HAVEN’T prepared them. Like neither one can cook, they don’t know anything about money except how to spend it….I need another 10 years with them!

  8. The Cutter says:

    So they grow up, huh? That’s good news and bad.

  9. i have kids exactly both your kid’s ages (first born moved from Calif to Japan two years ago to get a Masters in Nuclear engineering and I shudder at every earthquake Tokyo has. He shows zero sign of coming home. Its so hard. My twins age 22, both also across the country and I keep telling myself we teach them to fly so they can soar. I don’t want to put them in a cage but can I clip their wings just a little?? Nice post and you can call me Misty (eyed) now.

    • pegoleg says:

      Japan, yikes! Great for visiting, but how often can you do that? And you’re exactly right – we just want a teeny, tiny clip of those soaring wings.

  10. Good job! My sons are now in their 40s with kids of their own, but they’re still my babies. We don’t get to see each other often; I’m in AZ they are in AL and WA. But that’s okay; they are raising my grandkids right and that’s what matters.

    • pegoleg says:

      They’re always your babies, aren’t they? You know you did something right when you see them succeeding with their own kids. Good for you, Mom!

  11. Best last paragraph I’ve seen all day. Applause for a job well done, and the wisdom to let them go.
    They may leave, but they will reach back…in time. You’ll find plenty to keep you busy. In the meantime: you must have stories to tell them when they call to bring you up to date on their worlds.

  12. Mine’s already up and running…..FAST!

  13. I was just looking at pictures of my sons through the years, I was stunned by the transformation from silly to serious, baby to parent. It knocked me back on my heels.

    I think you next phase will be spectacular.

  14. My favourite part of watching babies learn to walk is the look on their face. they look like they’ve won the lottery, won the Olympics and scaled Mt Everest, all at the same time. Young adults have a similar look on their faces. They can’t believe they’re doing all this stuff! But it’s not so much fun for their poor mothers, who fear that their darlings are indeed jetting off in the space shuttle :-)

  15. rachelocal says:

    Hugs to you, Peg!

    Maybe you can get a free cruise out of this? ;)

    • pegoleg says:

      Definitely. I’ve never felt the slightest urge to do that. But she sent her final audition tape off to Carnival last week. If she makes it, guess who will be soon experiencing their first cruise? Mom & Dad.

  16. This absolutely kills me. My little guy is in the toddler stage and would trade up for another Momma in a heart beat. I hate and love that he’s so independent. I hope for and simultaneously fear where you are. Best of luck Momma and if you ever want to share how you cope I’ll be reading!

  17. Terese says:

    We live in CA and our oldest attends school 2400 miles from here. While she is home this summer next year she plans on staying there. My momma heart feels for you. I am learning that God so graciously prepares us for when their feet move on from us!

  18. Beautifully written post. As much as I love having time on my own, as soon as my kids go away for the weekend or something, I’m missing them and wanting them to come back, so I can understand! I don’t know what mine are going to do when they’re older, but if they stay in England, then wherever they are it won’t be THAT far from me, however if they go abroad, sigh…

  19. This post makes me feel a little sad, not because I’ve experienced this myself, but because it reminds how my mother is going to feel when I go away for a year to teach English in Spain this October. She is divorced and I wish she would find someone because then it would be easier, I think. I’m worried about her being lonely when I’m away but it’s difficult; I’m 21 and my independent life is just beginning.

    • pegoleg says:

      It says a lot about your caring heart that you are so sensitive to what your mom is going through. But never let that stand in the way of YOUR destiny, becase it isn’t the same as hers. It’s our JOB to raise you to fly away. And although it hurts, we have to try like hell to bite our tongues, hide our tears and let you go.

      • :) I think what is making it hard for me to think about my inevitable departure is the fact that I was my mum’s caregiver in 2012/beginning of 2013 when she was seriously ill and almost died. There is a chance that she will need further treatment and so I worry about going away, but you’re right: we all have our own paths and destinies in life.

  20. If your children are making a successful life on their own, you did your job well as a parent. Be proud. Sure, you’ll miss them. But think off all the parent who are trying to figure out a way to boot their grown kinds out of their homes and off of their payroll. You did good!

    • pegoleg says:

      Yeah, well, the distinguished graduate is not yet employed, so…

      • It’s a tough time to be looking for a job that doesn’t include the phrase, “Would you like fries with that?” I wish all the graduates success in finding some job that gives them both a living wage and some measure of satisfaction…

  21. The Waiting says:

    I was just talking about this very thing last night with one of my friends whose child is a toddler like mine. These moments we are experiencing right now seem so long – time stands still when you’re trying to convince your kid that it’s not a great idea to remove their clothes in the middle of Target – but we all know that if we blink, our kids are going to be taking off for space. It’s amazing how kids have the ability to bend time but can’t seem to manage to pick up their clothes.

    • pegoleg says:

      Time bending is nothing compared to the advanced physics involved in transporting dirty socks to the hamper.

      Just wait…in a blink of an eye you’ll be trying to convince them it’s not a great idea to remove their clothes in the middle of a frat party.

  22. Al says:

    Really showing a tender side here, Peg. I misted up a little bit, but that’s just between us. We’re way past the initial shock of empty nest syndrome, but as I recall, wine helped a lot. Oh, and grand-kids.

  23. Oh, this is so wonderfully sad! They sound like awesome daughters who come from awesome parents. As you may know, I will be an empty nester this fall with both kids in college and my emotions are bungie cording non stop!
    Sending big HUGS your way, Peg!!!

    • pegoleg says:

      I know you’ll be facing this soon. And I don’t want to worry you, but that first year when they’re both gone is the worst. I started this blog and got on board with a couple of charities that year as distraction. You’ll get through it, mom.

  24. Jocette says:

    My child started walking last week… It’s an amazing time :)

  25. Mary K. says:

    cried through the whole post. You and Bill did a great job with the girls and they will always be your babies.It helps me that Katie and Dan are close by but I miss Chris and Michelle. Thankfully, Chris likes to talk to us on the phone so we keep up.Call me anytime when you get the blues-I’ll be there. Love ya.

  26. Blogdramedy says:

    Job well done.
    Now you and Bill can get back to all that wild sex you used to have before the girls arrived.

  27. Pleun says:

    It’s all true (at least that’s what my parents tell me), but I see some travelling in your future and how can that be bad? Aren’t you looking forward to taking up residence (for a little while) in your daughter’s home? :-)

    • pegoleg says:

      Future? I already booked my trip for September. $218 from Chicago to San Francisco, round trip – I may go out every weekend! I’m sure Liz would love that.

  28. A beautiful post filled with truth. We can only hope our children grow up to make great decisions, including living in places which are great for us to visit.

    • pegoleg says:

      HA! That’s just what my mom said. My brother’s in Charleston, which is a fabulous town, but the rest of us who moved out of the area settled in poky little towns that still get snow and ice in the winter. Sorry, Mom & Dad.

  29. My baby son is asleep next to his dad right now. I’ve been patiently awaiting his awakening, but I now have a strong urge to go in and just wake him up. I don’t think I’ll give in . . . probably . . . but the urge is immense.

    Beautiful post. Sniff.

    • pegoleg says:

      Those baby/daddy sleeping pictures are priceless. There’s a picture of my brother Pat asleep on the couch with his first daughter on his chest that we absolutely cherish as he died about 7 years later.

  30. Shannon says:

    And exactly why I’m enjoying every single precious moment of their lives now. No time to lose. Congrats and boohoo at the same time on your empty nest. Beautiful post.

  31. My father used to say, “We send you away and let you go so you learn to come back home.”
    The homecomings are very sweet. This weekend both daughters are here helping their parents get on with the next chapter of their lives packing and getting ready for our move.
    Lovely tribute to your girls. Another reason to blog so they read you and feel the warmth.

    • pegoleg says:

      Except they don’t read me. I think they think of this as something mom does, independent of them. Although they have told me of people they’ve directed to my blog, so I think they’re proud of me for doing it.

      Hope you have a great time all together, and good luck with the move.

  32. James Thorne says:

    You wrote this very powerfully. It gave a great glimpse into the dual challenge of parenthood, to have to care so much about someone, and then to let go of them in order to accomplish the first.

  33. That seems like a lot of good byes at one time. Although, I suspect there is no good time for a child to move that far from a parent. So…you may have two bedrooms to convert into some kind of fun room. Any ideas?

    • pegoleg says:

      They’re too small to do much with, and our youngest girl’s room is so full of junk you can barely move in there. I think I’ll have that be her next project, if she ever comes home again. :(

  34. amelie88 says:

    I moved away to another continent for 2 years and then I ended up moving back home for a few years. Sister just moved out to the big, bad city (which isn’t that far away) but it does change things. Will probably be looking to move out later this year. In some countries though, kids don’t usually move out until they get married which can be well into their 30s so maybe count your blessings? I’m not sure if there is a happy medium!

    • pegoleg says:

      Good point. If they were living in my basement I would complain about that. But I just got an email from my baby that she’s applied to be a teacher in China and an au pair in France. Yikes!

  35. melissa says:

    Oh Peg, now I’m crying! What a sweet, heart-wrenching post. (At least crying is better than shrieking as I was after I read the post above this one about the migrating body parts.) I can feel your love for your girls come through in every word. That picture of the time machine is priceless. What a gift, our children are. Your daughters are lucky to have such a loving mother.

    • pegoleg says:

      Aren’t you sweet! I can’t believe I dug up that cardboard box in the basement – I had some junk packed in it. We need to remember to hold our little ones close, because time flies so quickly.

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