A few weeks ago I got a call from my daughter, Katie. “Hi Mom, Eldin and I are in the neighborhood. Can we stop by for a few minutes?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Just thought we’d return the book we borrowed.”
“Sounds good. I’ll look forward to seeing you soon.”
When they arrived she handed me the book and said they had some bad news and some good news. This news was the real reason for their visit.
I suggested we all sit down. Katie hesitated, then took a deep breath and looked at Eldin. He softly said, “You can do it.” She took another deep breath and announced they had just come from the doctor’s office and she had thyroid cancer.
In total shock a hundred thoughts darted quickly in my head: How could this happen to my daughter? How could I have had no warning? Why didn’t she tell me she wasn’t well? Am I so caught up in Mark’s health issues I don’t notice my own child’s health? Was she afraid to tell me because of Mark’s health? I want to be the kind of mother my kids can come to and count on. I thought we shared important things. We used to be close or at least in my mind. What have I done for her to keep such important information from me? Why wasn’t I there for her during the testing? The horrible thoughts kept darting in my brain and in my heart. I tried to fight the tears, I wanted to be strong for her, but they welled up anyway.
Katie said, “The good news is the doctor said if you’re going to have cancer, this is the best kind of cancer to have. It has a 95% cure rate.”
I thought of my dear friend, Michelle, who had part of her thyroid removed and I knew she lived a healthy life. But the tears kept coming, not just because of the diagnosis, but also because my daughter hadn’t turned to me for comfort or strength. I felt like a failure as a mother.
Katie said the testing just started a couple of weeks prior just as a precaution. She really didn’t think anything would become of it. She hadn’t been feeling pain. The only symptom she had been experiencing was fatigue. She was surprised when her doctor discovered the lumps in her neck.
I’m realizing once you’re a mother, you are always a mother. The feeling of wanting to make it all better never goes away. For an unreasonable moment I resented my son-in-law for taking away my daughter at the young age of nineteen. I wasn’t ready to let her go then and even now that she’s been married nearly eleven years—I still struggle with letting her go.
As my children age, I become less needed. Their lives are busy and filled with opportunity. I’ve heard my own mother warn about this cycle and know she struggled with it too, so at least I know I’m not alone.
When our children are young it’s physically draining meeting all their needs. As they get older and don’t need you it becomes emotionally hard. Letting go is a difficult thing to do and it starts when they become teenagers, struggling for independence. It wasn’t easy then and now that they’ve gained their independence, it’s still hard at times. My guess is it will never be easy.
When you love someone it’s just hard to let go. I raised my children to be independent and productive adults, and they learned it well. I should be grateful. I am proud of them, and as hard as it is to let go, it’s rewarding to watch them fly independently!