Having been imprisoned in South Florida in a cage composed of matrilineal fears, I've told myself several times that I won't do to my kids what my mother did to me. I've told myself that I won't scare them out of going to Gainesville by constructing tales about the monetary failure they're sure to experience or moving to Chicago by sharing stories about the hundreds of water bugs that abound in garden apartments. I've also told myself that I won't make them feel guilty for abandoning me and leaving me all alone after I did every possible thing I ever could for them, nor will I put the idea that they can't find success on their own into their heads. I've told myself all of these things, and I mean them sincerely.
Sincere and well-meaning as I am, though, I have to admit it's not going to be easy. I thought it would be, but this week something happened that made me realize just how not easy not doing everything in my power to keep my kids close by is going to be: Griffin went away to Williamsburg and Washington, DC.
I didn't think his going away was going to be a big deal; it's only five days, after all. Let me tell you something, though; I was wrong. It is a big deal, and five days isn't "only five days"; five days is FIVE DAYS! It's five days without kissing him goodnight or touching his hair or hearing his voice or seeing his face. Five days is four-and-a-half days too much. And that scares me.
If I'm unhappy being away from Griffin for five days, how am I going to deal with my children going away for four years and then, potentially, forever? How am I going to go from seeing my kids every day to talking to them once or twice a week (or maybe even less) and seeing them a few times a year? To sharing holiday time with a significant other's family? To cards in the mail instead of kisses and hugs? How will I uphold my promise to myself that I won't repeat my mother's mistakes and control my neurosis long enough not to negatively affect my sons' natural development?
As a parent, I know I have a responsibility to help my children grow, but how am I going to do that if I don't want to let them go?