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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Package

Today, we mail the packages.  This year is the first year I have compiled a send-away package for one of my baby heads.  21 year-old Lillian is living out of state for the first extended period and this will be the first time in that many years I haven't shared Christmas with her since her birth.  Teri is more seasoned at this than I.  Along with Lilly's Priority Mail box stacked by the front door, there are two others: one for Teri's twin sister and one for her baby head--both of whom live on the East Coast. 

This isn't to say that I have never shipped away the Christmas presents--when I lived in the Midwest years ago, I put together the paper-wrapped boxes to send back here to Oregon; and my sister lived in Seattle, London and New York city for decades and I sent her treats and treasures every year, but this is different. Strangely fine and strangely not fine all at the same time.

If you ask my kids, they might tell you that I've been raising them for adventures since the very beginning.  I wanted them to know there was a great, big, available world out there and that they could do anything, live anywhere, change their minds, make mistakes, and live out myriad versions of living in one lifetime, so it was inevitable that they would leave home and wander out.  In an over-used phrase, they get to do what they want. But the thought of Lillian actually opening her little presents a time zone away on Christmas is bittersweet.

Sweet in the yay-she's-living-her-life-and-we're-so-proud-and-supportive and bitter in the I-can't-believe-she's-really-all-grown-up. While Teri and I are planning a trip out to see her in the Spring, I haven't actually seen her since she left for the wilds of Colorado this past June. Yes, we talk and text and send each other photos of daily snowfalls, meals and odd happenings, but that isn't exactly the same as meeting up for lunch or plopping down on the same couch. 

According to Teri, packing the Mom's (Moms') Christmas Box takes skill, art and restraint.  A balance must be achieved between the practical and the sentimental.  We want them to have a little bit of momish gooeyness, but not so much as to be morose.  After all, as Teri and I have determined, part of our job now is to send the constant messages that we have complete and absolute confidence that they all can manage their own lives just fine (coupled with the reassurance that we are here no matter what.)

Our kids are all so different and we are really in the early years of separation by time and space and purpose. While we have been letting go for over two decades in this dance of mother and child, as many of you know, that means getting used to walking around with an enlarged, bruised and bewildered heart.  We do our best, whether they are coming to us, running from us, or we are sending a little piece of ourselves out into the world to find them wherever they may be.

So, we've wrapped our packages; tucked in little bits of this and that; cushioned and taped and labeled--and I have likely hidden a little chunk of myself amidst the tissue paper and bubble wrap--just in case.

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