When Anna was little we had a dear friend whose life intersected with us at just the right moment. This friend shared with me that she felt that a parents responsiblity was to teach their children to be independent of them from day one. That these little beings were their own independent little souls and that independence needed to be nurtured. As parents you love them, take care of them and develop that attachment, but with the knowing that one day they will start walking on their own, have their own thoughts and dreams and be their own person.
At first I didn’t want this advice. My reality as a single mom, from day one, was that Anna, at a young age, was going to be spending time away from me. It didn’t seem natural at all and I had much anxiety about it. After really thinking about these wise words I came to realize and accept that this time apart would only strengthen our relationship and would allow her to really be her own being. Anna was flexible, able to adjust to most situations, she was confident and definitely independent at the age of 6. Sometimes when she was away I would day-dream about her life in the future and what an amazing human being she was and was going to be because of her circumstances. She had so many people who loved her and nurtured her independence. She was very fortunate.
Not too long ago Anna came home from her dad’s house after a long weekend and asked me what I would do if she was gone with her dad for 100 days.
At first I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer because in all the co-parenting books I’ve read it often says that you shouldn’t inject your child with guilt when they are going to be with another parent. “I’ll miss you until you come home,” or “the dog will miss you terribly” are all statements that you try to avoid. You want your child to know that you love them unconditionally, that you are there for them when they get back and it’s okay for them to have fun while they are gone, free of any quilt.
Anna always had fun at her dad’s house. She adores him!
So, when Anna came home asking what I would do if she was gone for 100 days I took a deep breath and said, “I would miss you terribly and that probably won’t happen.” Maybe not the right thing to say but I couldn’t imagine her being gone for that long. I also was very curious of why she was asking, did she want to live with her dad? So I asked her why she wanted to know. With a little smirk on her face she said, “just wondering, I would never be able to be away from you either for 100 days.”
I think about that little smirk on Anna’s face, testing me and wondering what my response would be. I think about the advise I got from a wise friend at the beginning of Anna’s and my life together. I think about my independent little girl who could be away from her Mama. I think about how my heart would hurt sometimes when she was away and the peace that I would be filled with knowing she was her own being. I think about the amazing hug I received after being apart, whether it was a day at school or an extended visit with her dad.
Today marks 100 days that Anna and Abigail have been in Heaven. In a million years I would have never thought I could be away from my girls for this long. Knowing that both of my girls are independent, strong, confident and courageous beings helps me know that they are okay without the presence of their Mama in Heaven. They are my role models now and I can only hope that I can be as independent, strong, confident and courageous as them for the rest of my days here on earth.
I was right, I miss them terribly.