When someone younger than I am asks me what it is like to be a parent, my stock answer is “it hurts worse than anything I have ever done before”. I am talking about watching the milestones pass away, but I am also talking about the stuff nobody actually prepared me for. The stuff that feels like I literally have a dagger stuck into my heart and someone is standing there, twisting it around so that I feel the most pain I have ever felt-but it is not an evil pain. It’s a pain of love that is so very deep that even I, myself, would never have believed it possible for me to love another human being so much. It’s the watching my kid put her all into running for Student Council President in 5th grade, only to be beaten by someone who was ‘popular’ simply because it was, after all, just a popularity contest, and picking up the sobbing, heartbroken pieces afterward…It’s watching a kid go through that awful awkward phase-and wishing the phase would pass at a much faster pace…It’s knowing that my kid is having a hard time, socially, at school, and not being able to do a single thing about it…It’s about hearing my kid play guitar and realizing that I am responsible for that awesome talent….It’s about hearing my kid sing and getting chill bumps….It’s about wanting my kid to win, well, at everything, but knowing they cannot and, more importantly, should not. It’s about trying to prepare my kid for college, and knowing that they are going to eventually end up somewhere they shouldn’t be, drunk. It’s about taking my kid to college for the first time, and crying my eyes out as I drive out of town–audibly sobbing so loudly that it frightens my other children and they don’t know what to do….It’s about walking in that door after dropping my firstborn off at college, and knowing that he is gone…pretty much for good, and going into his room for a good cry and sleeping with one of his blanket’s for about 8 months… It’s about taking my firstborn to college for the second time…and setting him up in a house instead of the dorm. God! I had forgotten what it was like to set up housekeeping from scratch (not that I’ve ever had it so rough-thanks to Mothah), but I will say one thing: Thank GOD for grandparents! Mini Me did not possess a single fork to his name! I will also give great props to Amazon Prime Now. I couldn’t have done it without them. I did have to laugh when one of Mini Me’s friends said she could not believe that she was ‘experiencing this’, meaning watching me order shit on my phone and have it arrive at the house in an hour! I did not feel so very old. I felt so motherly, wiping out the kitchen cabinets and mopping the floors. I wanted to do for him what my mother had done for me-many times-and I did it. When we drove away that time, another piece of my heart stayed in Nashville…again. It’s about worrying about what my kid is actually doing at said off-campus housing! Oh MY God! Is he going to class? He better be! I am not paying for him just to live in Nashville! Oh MY God! Has he gotten someone to buy him beer? Of course he has. Oh MY God! Is he keeping his house as clean as it was when I left him there? Of course not. Oh MY God! Is he sleeping? Of course not. It’s about knowing he is probably doing some of the same things you were at that age, and knowing that like your mother, you can’t do a damn thing about it except hope that he is smarter than you were. While you have one already out of the nest, chances are, there may be others at home….This is when it’s about wishing my kid would come out of her room…It’s also about being so proud of my kid’s report card-wishing I had been so dedicated….It’s about watching my kid at his first piano recital-in his J. Crew Factory suit, looking like the bomb-diggity and acing his piece….It’s also about watching the Middle Child and The Baby hurt each other’s feelings…It’s about going out to the pool to relax and knowing that you will, indeed, have to get in the icy cold water and play with The Baby…It’s about watching The Baby beg The Middle Child to get in and play with us, and watching her refuse. I mouthed to her, “Pretty soon he won’t care”…. but I don’t think she got it. I think she thought I meant he would forget about it. I meant that in a few years, he won’t give a shit what she is doing. I said to The Baby, pretty soon, you won’t want to be out here with me! He said, I will always want to be out here with you, Mom. I had to put my sunglasses on then–so he wouldn’t see me cry. I know that it’s totally normal and natural for him to grow out of me….And I thought about Mini Me. He has been gone 2 weeks and I am starting to miss him. Have I failed him? Did I get off the float and play “Bolley Ball” with him? I hope that I did. It’s about watching my kids on stage–performing together–and knowing that they are, without a doubt: The. Most. Important. Accomplishments. Of. My. Life. I can also say that if I had known how much being a parent would hurt, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. There are some things that life does not prepare anyone for–for just reason.