Yesterday I made a quick visit to my daughter's new apartment. She very proudly showed me how she'd arranged the little place with all of things we'd moved in there the weekend before. I smiled as I took in how she had lovingly decorated her son's new room. She pointed out her special touches and I was very impressed with them all. She now lives in a building where there are four other apartments, inhabited by other mothers who were joined together to grow with each other, as women and mothers. As soon as I heard about the arrangement and then saw it, I was so moved by it all. Why, you might ask? After all, this is her third apartment in two years, since she graduated from high school. She has lived on her own. She has arranged her own space before. This time, however, it was different. At 17, I moved into the dorms and began a life I so desperately wanted for her. I wanted 3 am pizza with her dorm mates for her. I wanted the campus life for her. It had brought me so much joy and I figured it would bring her the same. However, by the time she was 17, my precious surprise (her son) was here and all campus dwelling dreams were dashed. I remembered the commuters from when I was in college. They seemed disconnected and out of the loop. They had to rely on the kindness of dorm residents to give them a sliver of that life. She was now one of them. However, life moves on and by August of 2015, it was time to get her moved into her first place and ready to start her first year in college. I wasn't any less proud of her. Quite the opposite. I was in awe of how this baby boy had inspired her to work like crazy in her senior year of high school, getting academic scholarships to college and other recognitions for her hard work; killing it from all angles. Various circumstances landed her in her second apartment. It was a good fit for her. It was a pretty complex and a lovely apartment. She found a new daycare for her baby and proceeded to start her second year of school. She worked hard in class and hard at work, sometimes working 40 hours a week, much to my chagrin. Well, we decided that it was time to move on from that apartment. We'd started to hear about some places that would work a bit better with her income level and also, it was time for a fresh start. A dear friend told me about a brand new program, which was being piloted and suggested my daughter apply. It sounded like a dream come true, complete with classes on parenting, nutrition, household budgeting, etc with the goal of placing the women in extremely affordable housing at the conclusion of the classes. I was ELATED when she got in. While already a warm and loving mother, I was so thankful that she'd get even more guidance on that path. So, she took the classes, got to know the other moms and they all moved in last weekend. It hit me like a ton of bricks that my child would actually get a chance to live like I'd lived in those dorms years ago. She'd be able to knock on a door to borrow sugar. She'd be able to eat 3 am pizza. She'd be able to sit and talk about goals and dreams with similarly situated friends. The things I wanted for her, was sad she'd miss out on, were actually, really happening anyway.
These last few years have brought indescribable reflection and growth for me. As my daughter started a new chapter as a high school graduate, young mother, and college student, I too started a new chapter. I began a new life, living with just my son, in a place I'd wanted to live since I was 24 years old.
I reconnected (after 20+ years apart) with a phenomenal man who I'd met and fallen in love with when I was that new 17 year old dorm dweller. To have a "new" relationship with someone you already love and trust is a feeling I can't fully describe.
So often, we feel that the book is done. Our story is already written. Our lives have taken their final trajectory. I have realized and experienced that the book is not done; just the chapter. There is a sweetness and joy waiting that you haven't even touched.