Friday Photo: Grown Don’t Mean A Thing

L and C 2015

“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, but grown? What’s that supposed to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.”

~ from Beloved

by Toni Morrison

Life changes when one of your children moves out of the house. Yes, the obvious things sting at first: an empty seat at the table, a bedroom that looks more like a hotel room, and a serious reduction in the laundry load. Over time, I’m finding, it’s the little things that get under my skin, that erupt when I least expect it and I find myself grasping for anything to hold onto – anything to feel safe and ‘normal’ again.

The holidays felt like that – a fleeting, ephemeral run of moments in which my heart would palpitate with the idea that things might be different this year, that our traditions and joys and moments we look forward to might be vanishing into distant memories.

I’m not ready for that quite yet.

It was an exercise in holding on and letting go, an endeavor of wills to choose from what was, what is, and what the ‘new normal’ will be. I struggled to figure out how to find a moment when the four of us could be together to decorate the Christmas tree. I waited to make the treats we love until she was back under our roof. We never did find time to hang the outside lights, drive around at night to view the neighborhood decorations, or do a full fledged day of Christmas shopping.

Thanks to my talented sister, though, we managed to get a Christmas card photo. That’s something that in normal circumstances is challenging at best, but when one child is 650 miles away, it becomes nearly impossible. In all the turmoil, excitement and confusion of the holidays, this photo is my greatest gift. My children. Bigger? Yes, definitely. But grown? Not really. Not yet.

I’ve got one more day with my girl before she leaves to her new home. She’s grown, moved away, and is creating her own version “normal”, but that doesn’t really mean a thing to me. In my heart, she’ll always be my first baby, my girl, the one who introduced me to motherhood. He’ll always be the little one. Moments strung together, like a tangled mess of discarded Christmas tree lights, cement their place in my heart. Flashes of what was, what is, and what will be light my way through the darkness.

No, grown don’t mean a thing.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. All of my kids are grown so I feel a little of your pain! They all live within 30 minutes of me and I can’t imagine them being 650 miles away. I completely agree – it doesn’t matter how old they get they will always be my babies.

    1. Alli – does it get easier? Is it like pulling the Band-Aid off? I would love to think that my kids will wind up near me, but the reality is that they are both adventurers, both love the mountains and will likely wind up located somewhere where I will have to visit…thank you for commenting!

    1. I just love this quote. It takes its place front and center on the top of my journal…i find it comforting. Grateful here, too.

  2. It goes so very fast.

    My oldest is fourteen and will be starting high school in September.

    Every week he seems to be taller and exhibiting far more signs of the teenager and hints of the man to come than the boy and baby he once was. I know how fast time moves, I’ll blink and he’ll be in college and the world will have changed again.

    1. Yes, Jack, you blink and they’re gone. It’s so bittersweet; the hard work we’ve done as parents really shows up at these times of transition, but I’m not ready to let it all go quite yet. Thanks so much for commenting.

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