I saw an old photo of me and my son today. Thanks Facebook memories. I was staring at it and remembering a time that has long since passed when it hit me, those people in the photo no longer exist. They are gone, never to return. As I felt moisture begin to well up in my eyes, I realize the power in a single snapshot image. Being a mother has had its many rewards woven tightly within the hard aches and hardships that come along with it. In the picture, its a close up of me holding my son and he's giving a look like, "Can I help you?" or, "Do you have an appointment to see my Mama?" We are in the lake on a bright and sunny day. As I write this, in the morning, I can hear the cold winter rain overflowing out of the gutters overhead while my 18 year old is still in bed. Looking at the picture brings me back to a time when we use to gather at the lake. When my boy used to hold onto me and be totally dependent. A time when I wore my body like someone else suit that felt awkward, heavy and doughy. A time when my belly was so stretched out and flabby and I used to hide it and deny it and had an aunt tell me that the only way I could ever get rid of it was plastic surgery. A time when I started to realize that most mothers are or have been going through these same feelings of disconnection from their bodies and the versions of themselves they had grown accustomed to pre baby. I am reminded of how the separation compounded daily into a feeling of emptiness, not only because I was literally feeling the empty nest of my uterus but also a sense of losing the woman parts of me during the transformation into vessel and then Mother. The times when all energy, all focus went into caring for a new life that was now 100% my responsibility and the enormous weight of that. I remember being hit with that wave when sitting outside one evening with my baby daddy. I had this huge tidal wave of love and fear wash over me where I felt so much intense love for my child followed in tandem with an overwhelming fear for his survival. It was in that moment that I understood that the only way I was ever going to keep him safe from all the horrible potentials in this world, I had to wrap myself around him like a shield and lock us both up in a box, buried somewhere deep, hidden and safe. The only way I could move forward from that place was to detach. To literally and mindfully love him less. Now there's a brain pluck. Loving someone so much you have to love them less. It was the only way though for the both of us to continue on in our lives, facing every day with all its potentials with bravery. It allowed me to be able to let him wander off at times to explore and discover on his own and to fall and learn how to pick himself up again. I think the hardest part about being a parent is resisting the coddle. As much as your heart wants to fight all their battles for them and take away all their pain, its the realization that those are the very things they need to survive on their own. I heard from another mother one day that raising a son was like slowly breaking up with the love of your life and I felt that, I'm feeling that. Every time my son would leave to go to his Dad's I would start to feel the pangs of rejection. Or when you reach out to them for affection and they pull away, sometimes with that teenage, "Ahhkkch, Mommm" When you raise them right, they leave you and go on to live fulfilling lives of their own. It's how it's supposed to be for the mother role is to love them, guide them, encourage and empower them, fill their tool belts and set them free in the hopes that they come back every once in a while to fill you in on their life without you.