wine on the keyboard

The Face in the Mirror

by Kay~Kacey on 8/18/2008

I look in the mirror. I’m not sure I know this woman I see. With the wisps of gray hair and are those wrinkles I see?

Where is the woman who was just holding this child? Scooping him up when he fell? Reading stories. Watching him fly down the hill on his Big Wheel and hoping he didn’t get hurt?

playing with chalk

My hands that used to grasp his tiny hands? My hands are wrinkled now. Not a lot, but enough to let me know that they’ve lived. The hands have done a bazillion loads of laundry. They’ve picked up hundreds of Matchbox cars and Ninja Turtles. They’ve dried tears, and cleaned up skinned knees, and patted fevered foreheads.

I miss those little boy hugs. You know the ones? Where they wrap their arms around your neck so tightly you can barely breathe? Where have those all gone? How did the time fly by so quickly?

Was I not just taking this child to his first day of preschool? Did he not just learn to read? Score his first soccer goal? Learn to drive a car?

I have regrets. Things I wish I had done. I wish I’d spent more time with the boys, and less worrying about the house, or bills, or money or anything. I wish I’d put down my work, and sat and just listened to their laughter more often. I wish we had built more forts out of blankets and castles out of Legos. I wish I could have taken away the pain of their first broken hearts.

As the boys got older, I’ve taken back up hobbies that I had dropped in the exhaustion that is a mother of small boys. I slowly got back a part of me that wasn’t “mom”. But even that person had to shape her life around the demands of being a mother.

all grown up

I’ve always been one of those moms willing to launch their children into the world. Be there for them, but encourage them to stand on their own two feet. Now my youngest leaves for college and it hurts. Honestly, I’m a mess. Even though I know he’s so ready for college and to be out on his own. I didn’t think I’d take it this hard.

So I stand here looking at the mirror and wonder. Who am I now? What will I become now that I’m not first and foremost a mom? How will I seize this life and make it into everything I want it to be? It’s actually kind of exciting…in a melancholy-the-world-is-changing way.

Who is that woman in the mirror?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy August 18, 2008 at 6:37 am

I share your pain so much, Kacey! My mind is flooded with memories right now, and I, too, am a mess. I, too, have regrets and want so much to hit “rewind” and do some of those things I wish I’d done. But that’s not an option, so I’m taking this day by day and hoping for the best for all of us!

vodkamom August 18, 2008 at 6:42 am

now I’m depressed.

You have voiced feelings that are churning around in my stomach, as I send my baby girl to college. Where did the years go? If I turn around I can see them quickly disappearing behind me in a wisp of smoke. sigh…

my little fella is 10, and as taller than me.

Sandra August 18, 2008 at 7:07 am

What a touching post. I’ve been there — felt that way. But let me give you a little perspective from further down the road — I predict you’ll love it, once you (and your “men”) settle into the “new life.” We are still involved in our childrens’ lives, just in a different way, but in some ways — better! (i.e. GRANDCHILDREN!)

When DD, our youngest, went to college, a professor told them during the first week than in case they were thinking of their parents sitting at home missing them terriblly — they were wrong. Mom and Pop were actually at home chasing each other around the kitchen naked! DD called us and said, “Stop it right now!” And then explained what she’d been told. :rofl:

Mental P Mama August 18, 2008 at 7:21 am

I am sorry you are so blue, but I bet you’ll bounce back! I am hopins so, because I face this in twelve months myself. :cry:

Beckynsc August 18, 2008 at 7:28 am

Girl, you are pulling at my heart strings! My youngest is still home. Starting middle school this year. He is growing so fast. Taller than me already. At that stage where he doesn’t want Mom to love on him. I miss those “hugs”, too!

Kacey August 18, 2008 at 7:32 am

I’m not sure why this one is hitting me so hard. I sent the others off to college. I know I survived that. I guess because this is my baby. Or maybe it’s because it’s been a rough year for us. Or maybe I’m a wuss :lol:

Kate August 18, 2008 at 7:55 am

You are not alone, Kacey. You know this, I hope. This is something I see all the time because I work in a school and mothers are sending their children off to college and well, I see it always.

It’s probably because it’s your youngest, and combined with this year’s troubles in which you hinted, it’s adding up to something painful. Painful and joyous, what a mix, eh?

The art of parenting is learning to let go. It begins in childhood.

You also mention that you wished you spent more time listening to their laughter, building more forts, putting down your work. Stop it. You know you were there for them. This is an exciting time for your youngest!! Celebrate his joy with him. Please don’t let him see you cry when you drop him off. Be strong, Kacey.

My heart is breaking for you. Even though we’ve never met, I can feel your pain. It is not easy, is it?

Katharina August 18, 2008 at 9:05 am

Great pictures, Kacey, and I truly sympathize. I sent my two boys off to college year after year and now they are grown men. ( Where did all those years go? I don’t recognize the woman in the mirror either.) All those “see you at Christmas” were just practice for me as I’ve sent my baby off to Afghanistan twice. It is so hard to not be able to pick up the phone and touch base with him. Family photos are such a blessing, but they mess with the heart. I’ve spent a great deal of time with both my boys, but there are always regrets. You seen to have great relationships with your boys and those are blessings to be counted.

Suzanne August 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Awww, it’s hard now, I know, but soon, probably sooner than you imagine, you’ll be feeling more of the excitement and less of the sadness. And watching him blossom in college will be part of it as you blossom in the independence you get along with his!

annbb/TSannie August 18, 2008 at 12:46 pm

It’s the end of a life chapter – the end of the era of being an everyday physical mom. It’s so very bittersweet, these life moments.
As far as looking in the mirror, I’m doing that a lot too – and I still don’t recognize the woman that’s there. I have a bunch more evolving to do, that’s for sure!
This too will pass…and I guarantee the new chapter will become wonderful!
Thinking of you…thinking of me…thinking of all of us who are in a similar place…

Virginia August 18, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Cheer up and embrace your memories.
When there are lines upon my face from a lifetime of smiles,
When the time comes to embrace for one long last while,
We can laugh about how time really flies,
We won’t say goodbye ’cause true love never dies,You’ll always be beautiful in my eyes.
— Joshua Kadison, Beautiful In My Eyes

Tori Lennox August 18, 2008 at 1:10 pm

*hugs* hon. I know it’s tough now but soon I bet you’ll be enjoying having the house to yourself and SuperGuy. :)

Amy A August 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Well, crap. I was looking FORWARD to the days when they leave for college. Now I’m going to be a mess? I GET ALL BLOTCHY WHEN I CRY!


I think watching the youngest leave the nest is the toughest. You will get through this and soon, you’ll start being EXCITED about his new adventures. And you’ll wonder what you and SuperGuy did with all those kids underfoot…..

iPost August 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

I feel the same way but mine is just entering middle school. I never thought of life past elementary. Sounds stupid, but my mind never went there till now. *sigh*

mary August 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

OK, I’m bawling here, and my daughter is only gong to be a junior. But we were looking at colleges already, and I honestly don’t know what I will do when she is gone.

Back when I first became a mother, I did not want to be labeled as ONLY a mother. But somehow, that is what I have become, and it is hard to picture different possibilities. Good luck wit your search for the “new” Kacey. We will all be right here to hold your hand!

cgreno August 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm

thank you for posting so eloquently what I am feeling. Who knew? In the midst of the madness, I just wanted sanity, now I have sanity, I would love for just a glimpse of the madenss, the hugs, the little kid smell. Who knew it really would go past like a speeding train. What seemed so important then, keeping order, making beds, paying bills, I wish that the beds would have gone unmade and I would have made 1000 more mud pies…………………….:-)

Connie August 18, 2008 at 7:42 pm

You really hit a nerve with alot of us. It’s ok to feel the pain and you will be ok. My youngest, the only girl ,will now be a senior in college. To keep myself grounded during the changes of life, I approach every change that as one door closes another door opens.

New doors will open for you too.

Chere August 18, 2008 at 9:55 pm

You are still the Mother of two boys. Their little faces will always live in your heart. I am the Mother of a daughter and a son. I love them both but there is a difference with my son. He was my cuddle, loving child. He did not want to be five, my daughter could not wait. Our daughter is out of college and starting her life. Dusty is a jr. in college and is only home on holidays. Yes I miss them both. My husband and I have adjusted very well to being empty nesters. We are having a great time. Yes, I too look at my gray hair, wrinkles and a little extra weight, well maybe alot. But I have found my way and so will you. Good luck to your Freshman college student.

midwestmom August 19, 2008 at 12:31 am

What a great post. It really touched me. I love your posts about your boys. My youngest starts kindergarten on Wednesday and I’m so sad. It’s been her and I, all day everyday, and now she’ll be gone all day.

Tara August 19, 2008 at 2:39 am


Just like the oters you dropped off, you’ll be proud of the young man standing in the dorm room…that’s how I felt…and here he was pursuing his dreams…didn’t I help foster that love of life?? I couldn’t help but be happy for him at a moment when I thought I’d be a mess! Enjoy it!

Marcie August 19, 2008 at 7:03 am

I’m in the exact same place as you. My youngest is actually starting her sophomore year of college. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I’m not. After a summer at home..and as she’s packing up and getting ready to leave again..I’m finding myself back exactly where I was – incredibly sad that my three babies are mostly ‘launched’..incredibly excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead for me in my life…and terrified – all at the same time.
And so it goes….

Caroline August 19, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Oh my heart breaks a little bit reading this. I feel like my life is fast-forwarding and I will be where you are in no time at all. Deep breaths. My heart is with you for sure. And I guess I should stop whining about T. going to kindergarten now, huh? Keep coping, keep coping. (Loved the wine glass btw…)

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