"How are you feeling?" is the question I've been asked over and over this week, as our first daughter headed off to college. A friend sent me this photo, and I think it sums things up well:
As a mother, this photo rings true because I still think of my daughter as a child. Memories from every stage of her childhood are replaying in my mind as I go about my days: reminiscing our lying in the grass looking for shapes in the clouds after the picnic lunches we shared, as I weed my gardens; savoring our favorite dinner that has now been prepared for three rather than four; reciting in my head the books I read to her at bedtime as I walk into her room to make her bed, before realizing it doesn't need to be made because no one slept in it last night; hearing her laughter as I look at photos on the wall. All of these fond memories preserve my little girl as just that in my mind. The fact that this chapter of our lives is over has left a hole in my soul.
As the days pass, I feel new joy as I read the texts I receive from my daughter telling of all the wonderful things she is doing at school. Her words and photos make it clear that she is not the child of this photo. She is a young woman embarking on her life journey - a journey that will take her beyond the walls of her childhood. I truly could not be more happy for her.
How am I feeling? While my daughter's presence is missed, her present is filling the hole in my soul with new joy.
author of "JOY"