You Forget All The Hard Days When Your Baby Leaves Home

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It’s so easy to forget. The pain. The challenge. The headaches. The anger. The stress. The sleepless nights. The days and evenings of worry and fear and will-this-ever-end desperation.

It’s so easy to forget, because every heartache and tear is so quickly wiped away by the wild, beautiful, breathtaking love we have for our kids.

Like the hours of labor erased by that first baby cry, by little fingers wrapped so tightly around ours, by fuzzy hair and newborn coos.

Like the dirty diapers, long nights rocking away inconsolable wails, spit up stained shirts and barely-keep-your-eyes-open exhaustion — forgotten because of first smiles, first steps, new discoveries and baby giggles.

Like the tantrums and foot stomping, the kicking and throwing food, the bold and unapologetic defiance that is nothing compared to “wub you”s and sweet slobbery kisses and bright-eyed-running-up-to-you bear hugs when you walk in the door.

Like the fights about schoolwork and tying shoes on their own, the dinners that refused to be eaten, the stumbling in the dark, stepping on toys left out that are unremembered because little hands fit perfectly in yours — because arms wrap around your neck and sweet faces look up at you with missing teeth grins.

Like the jaw-dropping “I can’t believe you just said that to me” conversations and the “pull your hair out” screaming matches and heated disagreements, the nail biting, wait up for them nights that quietly fall away with awkward, unexpected teenager hugs and tummy hurting belly laughs around the dinner table.

It’s so easy to forget. The long days. The seasons you thought you couldn’t make it. The moments you believed that you failed as a parent and then failed again. The different occasions you felt like you kind of couldn’t stand your own kid. Life can seem so hard and the time can seem to go on forever and first summers back home can be more overwhelming and difficult than ever expected.

But yesterday, when I dropped off my boy for his second year of college, it was so easy to forget. I hugged him goodbye and nothing else mattered except how crazy and painfully I love him — how, when I look at him I can still see the hours old baby whose eyes magically locked with mine, the little boy who wouldn’t leave my side and would call me “mama” in the sweetest, tiniest voice; the kid who would wrap his arms around me and squeeze me like he didn’t want to let go; the teenager who could light up my darkest days with his goofy, metal covered smile.

But eventually, I had to let him go and walk away. Even the tightest and longest hug wouldn’t have been enough to show him how proud I am of how hard he works, how beautiful it is to watch him grow, how fantastic it is to see him finding his way. Telling him “Work hard, have fun, be safe,” wasn’t even the start to everything I wanted to remind him, to warn him about, to teach him as he begins life in his very first apartment.

I had to let him go, because there is nothing I could say or do that could ever speak to how thankful I am for every second I was able to have him near me, to hold him and keep him close; enough to express that even in the midst of the hardest, scariest, most crushing, close-your-eyes-and-want-to-forget days of our life together, loving him has always been one of the best things I’ve ever done.