Saturday, May 4, 2013, my Bella received her first Holy Communion. In the Catholic religion, communion is the third sacrament that our child receives. It is something they prepare for all year, culminating in a mass in which they wear a beautiful white outfit (like they did not so long ago when they were christened as newborns) and they are called to the altar to consume the consecrated body and blood of Christ. It is a beautiful mass. But for me, as a mother it was so much more.
We’ve planned for this since she was in kindergarten. But this past weekend, as I curled her long blonde hair and dressed her in her long white gown, I simultaneously felt the past and future meet. I stood there looking in the mirror seeing the baby who I christened eight years ago and the woman who would someday wed.
I saw the nervous chin up face that I’ve seen accompany so many firsts in her lifetime. The face that makes me want to pull her in close and tell her it will all be alright that Mommy will make it all better. I asked her what was wrong. She quietly responded, “Nothing.” But her face told me another story.
As I buckled her white shoes with the crystal fastens and clasped her necklace and adjusted her veil; I caught myself staring and wanting to freeze that moment in time forever. The world was buzzing around us but all I could see was my daughter; nervous, excited and about to conquer another first, to move one step further in the direction of growing up which meant at a time when all I wanted to do was hold her tighter, I had to exhale and let her go. That is parenting, a lifetime of letting go in minute increments so small that neither of you has to acknowledge it but both know without a doubt it’s happening.
As we drove to mass, I could feel that familiar lump sitting in my throat. The one I’ve felt so many times since the birth of my daughters; a mix of deep pride and overwhelming love with just a touch if sadness. I smiled and encouraged her bitter sweetly as I held back tears knowing that in this moment the inertia of the letting go had swept us both up in its tide and there was nothing either of us could do but try to enjoy the ride.
She nervously smiled at me as I held her hand in the pew before the service started. Her eyes darted about the room, looking for familiar faces, surrounded by family as she squeezed my hand a little tighter ironically acknowledging the letting go. I smiled back at her, sharing a moment that belonged to her and I alone.
Then mass began and I was overcome with emotion as she trepidatiously joined her fellow communicants in the back of the church to make their debut. I watched her walk away and she turned back to give me one last glance as if she were looking to me for confirmation that this was okay and she was safe. I smiled granting her unspoken permission and sworn support and she smiled back and walked away, as she turned just in time for me to hide my tears.
** Speaking of milestones, I’ve been so busy, I almost forgot to stop and celebrate that today is my fourth anniversary of blogging. I can’t believe that The TRUTH about Motherhood is 4 years old! It makes me wonder why the hell, I decided to start a blog on the busiest month of the year in our household? I guess I had a free day that year and thought, I’d like to give birth to a new journey. Whatever made me do it, I am so glad that I did. It’s been a hell of a ride so far. You are wonderful and amazing and I love getting to know you. Here’s to 4 more, at least. I’ll be giving away some goodies later this week, so stay tuned.