It's sort of a strange experience to call your daughter from Ohio and when she answers the phone you hear a cacophony in the background and she is yelling, "I have to call you back, Mom - we're going to our seats at Yankee Stadium! Look for me on TV!" The game was on in Cleveland because the Yankees were playing the Indians (the Tribe won!) I stared at the television thinking - she's there - right now - in that crowd - under that sky - 400+ miles away.
Another time I had that same sense of weirdness was our first Thanksgiving apart. I was tearfully stuffing the turkey and the phone rang. "Mom!" (in more of an eight-year-old voice out of the past) "I just saw Scooby-Doo!" She was at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. After hanging up the phone I watched the TV, gazing at the New York streets trying to imagine her in that crowd.
I love that she's out in the world experiencing things that I never did - soaking up New York City - living her own unique life - but at the same time it doesn't seem right that she's there and I'm here.
So I think the word BITTERSWEET must have been invented to describe a mother's torn feelings about her children in situations like this.
You bitterly miss them - but feel the sweet pride as they find their place in this world.
You ache for the days when you were needed 24/7 - but their independence and growth bring you joy.
You want them to stay - but you rejoice at their singular flight.
Bitter and sweet.