At twenty-seven years old, I find myself in a very unfamiliar place: I am less than one week away to becoming an “empty nester.”
As I’ve told people about my pending empty nest, I have been met with shock and awe, even a few chuckles. Almost all of them have the same response, “You are not a parent.” I may not be a mother, but I most certainly identify with being a parent. A Google search for Webster’s Dictionary brings the definition that fits my situation most accurately. The definition states that a parent is, “a person who brings up and cares for another.” Thank you, Webster, for confirming what I already know, what I feel in my core, and the part of my life that defines me the most. I am a parent.
Anyone who is a parent can surely identify with my sleepless nights worrying about whether I said “I love you” enough or who knows what it feels like to have your heart almost jump out of your chest when your child gets accepted to college/high school dance/dodge ball team or the tears cried in anticipation for how wonderful the next stage in their life will be.
When I was nineteen, I lost my mother. It is the only time in my entire life that I wished to be an only child. Grief and loss is hard enough to deal with on your own, but with three little sets of eyes watching your every move, it feels overwhelming. What I didn’t realize at the time, and they probably don’t realize yet, is that for every instance that I helped them or loved them or supported them, they saved me. They built me up because they needed me and I succeeded because of them.
I received the nickname of “Mama Bear” years ago, and it is my proudest title to date. So as we forge ahead as four adults facing our next stages in life, I hope that I’ve taught them a thing or two, and at the end of the day they always know that time, space, or distance will never stop me from being a parent to them. I am Mama Bear, after all.