In today’s Gathering Gold episode, I offer some guidance to one of our Patrons, Olivia, who is worrying about being the center of attention on her wedding day and struggling with family expectations. One of the things I share is that when we grieve on the front end, we open up the space on the actual day and afterwards for love and joy to enter.

When I listened back to the episode, which we recorded months ago, I was struck by how relevant the words were for me today as we launch Everest into his first year of college.

Grieving on the front end? Yep. In some ways I’ve been grieving this departure from the minute he was born. I remember when he was a baby and I looked down at his precious face and thought, “In 18 years you’ll be moving away.”

I grieved when his first tooth came in. I grieved when he stopped nursing. I grieved at every birthday. I grieved when we had one year left with him at home.

And… I also celebrated. Grief fully grieved paves the way for joy, for they are sisters in the pocket of our hearts. Each milestone was a loss *and* a birth, a step away from childhood and a step toward more independence and adulthood.

For we do not raise our children to keep them close. We raise them so that they can bring their full selves and the light of their gifts into the world.

And here’s another secret that few people talk about: each time your child becomes more independent, you also reclaim a bit of your independence. Early motherhood is such a profound sacrifice of self, and it’s a breath of soul oxygen when we reclaim bits of self as our children get older.

So as we prepare to launch our son into the world, I’m also aware of the energy that will be returned to me. I have poured myself into him for 19 years. Some of that pouring will now shift direction and fill my own being.

However, I don’t think I would be able to tap into the renewal side of this transition had I not been grieving all along, and more intensely this past year.

To all the mamas of young kids out there: It’s going to be okay! Grieve along the way. Tend to your separate selfhood. And trust in the unfolding of life. The baby bird eventually grows too big for the nest. And then it’s time for them to fly.

If you follow the wisdom of grief, you, too, will be renewed and will find new and beautiful wings to launch you into the second half of life.

One more piece to add: One of the joys for me of being in a virtual community is receiving the wisdom of mothers who have gone before me. This comment on Instagram brought me so much light:

“My baby’s first year in college was last year. Her leaving left us with an empty nest. She leaves tomorrow for her second year. It’s still sad to see her sweet self go after a fulfilling and satisfying summer with her here. I have to say that it’s really amazing how their leaving transforms parents in ways you can never anticipate. It’s almost as miraculous as their birth.

“You and your youngest will have a beautiful, new and sweet relationship that would never be possible until the older one leaves. You and your husband will breathe easier in the new found spaciousness. It’s all so beautiful. The lead up to it is imbued with so much grief and anxiety. But I suspect that in a few weeks you’ll feel more whole than you feel now in a beautiful and strange way.

“Sending love to you and all us mamas making this transition. ❤️❤️❤️❤️”

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