My mom went back home this week and the 24 hours leading up to her departure was a looming sadness neither your mother nor I could shake. It all came to a head in the moment when I requested an Uber to the airport: your mother broke out the waterworks, doing her usual “I don’t know why I’m crying” slow head shake even though it was so obvious why…our vacation is over and we have to go back to burping and changing diapers! Just kidding. I’m a person of relatively few tears, but even I was on the verge of crying in one of those surreal moments where I had a mental hand on the faucet and could choose whether to turn it on or not. I opted to save the tissues.
After sending off my mother, we sat at the table eating lunch, your mother still shedding the occasional tear. I asked her what specifically made her sad, and her response surprised me. She said, “Because she won’t be able to see Milo grow up.” It wasn’t a thought I hadn’t considered myself, but I had expected something more self-centered like a sense of loss or not having someone around to talk to anymore. To hear that statement aloud validated the thought and made it – the change in our lives, your existence – another one of those revelatory moments that we have a kid!
[I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that you coming into the world affected all the other relationships in our lives like mine with your mother or mine with my own mother. But I do find it interesting only because it is normally by subtraction or loss when I’ve gained appreciation, not through addition. I can’t pinpoint the reason behind my newfound appreciation and understanding, but it probably has something to do with putting things in perspective and my ability to empathize as a parent.]
Then your mother asked me why I was sad. I deflected and never ended up answering her as I am wont to do. I don’t know why I do that, but upon reflection, it’s actually one of the very reasons why I was sad to see my mother leave – I feel like life has passed us by and there were a lot of things that had been left unsaid over the years…whether it was as mundane as telling her about my day, what I feel at that point in my life, what I appreciate about her. And now, I’m attempting to make up for lost time, which only highlights there’s a finite amount of it left. I wouldn’t call any of this a mistake per se, but I hope you don’t end up doing the same with us, and I don’t do the same with your mother because a lot of sadness and regret seems to follow.
Alas, I can’t end this letter on such a sad note. So instead I come back to thinking about how you have become a vessel of wonderful change for me, for us. Since you were born, I haven’t played a computer game, your mother and I buy prewashed vegetables, we don’t have time to fight, and the foremost thoughts on my mind revolve around what matters most to me – my family and friends.