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Every time I have to say goodbye to you, I can feel my heart ripping out of my chest.
Amongst the bright-colored raincoats, all cheerfully hanging in their cubbies with anticipation, I sit. I feel the warmth of tears beginning to rise in the corners of my eyes.
I look around the room. There is a hectic buzz of parents and teachers coercing children into their classrooms. No one notices me, but I can’t cry here. Even if there is only a small chance you might look back, I can’t risk it.
You can’t see me cry. At least, not today.
I won’t see you for several days. And I’m already mourning the memories I haven’t missed yet.
Your first successful attempt to count to 10. A wide grin at dinner as you talk about your favorite part of the day. When you announce that you’ve changed your favorite color from pink to purple, and now back to pink again.
All the time apart weighs on me. The cost is almost too much to bear. Then, I remember this quote from Thích Nhat Hạnh:
“The most precious inheritance parents can leave their children is their own happiness.”
I can no longer offer you the picture-perfect childhood that I had imagined. Warm cookies when you walk in the door every day after school. The excited faces of both parents side by side in the crowd every time you score a goal in soccer. Your life will be challenged by separate homes, separate vacations, and separate traditions now. I can’t shield you from that.
The one invaluable thing I can offer you now, more than ever, is a happy mom. A mom who no longer stays small to keep the peace. A mom who is no longer weighed down by her own struggles. A mom who emulates for you what a fulfilling, passionate life looks like.
All I can do for you is to continue to work on myself. My ability to love you expands as I learn to love myself. And with that, I am committed to supporting my own happiness because, most of all, you deserve to have a happy mom.
That is the only inheritance that matters.