Our son Grayson got married last month, the last of his siblings to tie the knot. It was an incredible, beautiful event which had me smiling from early morning until the moment their car pulled away to whisk the couple to their honeymoon...and beyond.
My husband, Tom, and I sank into our hotel bed after it was all over and held hands across the covers. "Well, how does it feel?" he whispered. Friends and family had asked me the same thing throughout the weekend.
How does it feel? Their eyes searched mine. How does it feel to be done?
Wow. I guess I am done parenting, and it happened ever so gradually that I didn't see the tsunami of emotion coming. It happened incrementally, each time the tail lights went down the driveway toward college, after a weekend home. It happened each time I hung up the phone, or mailed a letter, or signed off on a text.
It's the way of letting go, and it's the way it should be. It's supposed to catch at your heart a little.
Let's face it: this guy has been the delight of my heart for twenty four years.
And I promised I wouldn't get all mushy and embarrassing on his big day--it was too special to spoil with tears. When we danced our Mother-Son dance I joked that the song was too long, but in reality... it wasn't long enough. Here was my son, my beautiful son, and I was getting to dance with him as we did so many times in the living room when he was a boy...only now he was all grown up and oh-so-handsome in his wedding suit.
It all came in a rush, a wave of pride and joy, that swept over me as he twirled me, then caught my hand as I came back around.
I've been so lucky to be his mom.
Grayson and his bride Emily left the party through cheers and sparklers, off to begin their life together. I could not be happier for them! She is perfect for him and they will have a wonderful life story to create with each other.
How does it feel to be done?
The question lingers, and I think about the busy, all-consuming years I spent raising kids.
I remember the stress, and the noise, and the late night talks, and the laundry, and the whispers and the "I love you's."
I picture the car-pools, and jammies, and midnight trips to the pharmacy for cough medicine, the hockey games, and the homework.
I think of the years of work and hope and prayer that defined parenting, and the fear that I'd ruined him and his sisters with my leniency, and possibly too many quesadillas.
But I'm done with all that now. And he's not ruined, just look at him! He survived me as his mom and that's the thing that can never be taken away.
We made it.
I might be done parenting, but I'll never be done being a mom.
When your last child gets married and everyone asks you how it feels, all you can say is, there is definitely a mess of emotions.
But when the dust settles and you have a minute to let it all sink in, you can sit back and exhale. It's all good.
It's all okay.
Because in the end, it's what you always hoped for.
When you brought that baby home you signed up to have your heart broken and mended and healed and reborn in a million ways. You agreed to let that child shape you as much as you shaped him; to push and prod and pull...only to release him to the world again and again and again until he flew on his own.
And if you're lucky enough to get to dance with him at his wedding, you will look at him with wonder and delight, and know that your love will once again take new shape and form.
But it will still be love.
Your love will always remain.
Even when you're done being a parent, you'll still be a mom.
And that feels...really, really good.
All photographs are by Feather and Twine Photography.