That Familiar Sting

My eyes are tired. And swollen. And itchy. And yet they are unable to close and rest.

I put my son on a plane back to Michigan today, and with each year that passes, it hasn’t become any easier. I usually start to feel the sadness creeping in the day before his departure. This year it hit me full force for a variety of reasons: yesterday was my birthday, and I am pregnant. Hormone city. The familiar sting of tears turned into full-blown waterworks late last night. While my son played his Xbox, I blubbered and babbled to James about all the things it means to have Tyler here for these precious visits each summer.

It also reminds me of the cold, hard fact that I’m not with my son 100% of the time.

I left Michigan in early 2010 to pursue a travel nursing career in response to a job that had become beyond stagnant. Forced cancellations took my full-time job to sometimes less than part-time. I was unable at that time to make ends meet, so a decision was made to travel with my nursing degree. Little did I know that a travel job would become an offer for permanent employment, and when forced to face the reality of knowing that I was most likely not going to be able to return to Michigan to make anywhere a similar salary, I accepted the offer.

Criticize me if you must, but do not judge.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my son, or question my logic at the time, but what’s done is done, and almost four years have passed. My son has grown into young adulthood with and without me by his side.

I marvel at the fine young man he’s become. I know this is incredibly cliche, but my son is truly the best. He’s loving, thoughtful, kind, respectful, and even though he’s 5’11” and almost 15 years old, he still hugs his mother with force. And he hugs freely. And often, not discriminating where, when, how, or why he hugs.  I cry happy tears right now at the thought it.

I’m not the perfect mother, but I love my son perfectly. And completely. And unconditionally.

I briefly talked to my son this past week and told him how much I love him, how proud I am of the young man he’s become, and that even though I’m physically not there, I am always here for him. Always. As a typical teen, he responded with grunts, groans and yeah, a few eye rolls.

But, I think he heard me loud and clear.

We had a great time this past week. We did all the things on his list of must-do’s. I didn’t take a single moment for granted, and I never do. We laughed, we played games, we took walks, we hugged, and we shared some awesome moments and made more great memories. That’s the good stuff.

And that’s the stuff I want my son to remember. The good stuff. and I want him to know how much I miss him, cherish him, admire him, respect him, and above all, love him. I hope that as he enters full-blown teendom, he remembers all this. I never want my son to wonder how I feel. Never. I want him to know that even with a new baby on the way, his place in my heart will always be there.

So I sit here today feeling sadness mixed with a mother’s pride, knowing that it will be months until I see my son again. The tears have flowed freely, and while I type through the sniffles, tears, and piles of kleenex, I know that I need this release.

Tyler,

Please know how much I love you, and that not a single day goes by that I don’t think about you. You will always be my firstborn and occupy a very, very special place in my heart. You have and continue to bring me immense joy and pride. It’s an honor to be your mother, and I look forward to not only making new memories together, but also to watching you grow into the strong, confident, and capable man I know you’ll become. I look forward to your hugs again soon…..

Today will pass, tomorrow will come. My tears will dry, and rather than dwell on the fact that my son isn’t here, I will look forward to the next time he visits, and all the memories we’ll share.

And tomorrow, rather than cry, I’ll smile.

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