Dear Mom, I get it now.

Over the Christmas holiday, my little family and I were blessed enough to be able to spend time in Washington state visiting my husband’s family.

In the 6 years that my husband and I have been married, we have pretty much always lived away from our family. We met in the military, and if you are familiar with that lifestyle you know very well that not only do you have a very short list of places to live, but you also have very little control over which of those locations you will actually get stationed at. Even after leaving the military, we were a young couple born and raised on opposite sides of the country ( literally, he is from Washington and I am from Connecticut) with one child, and no idea where we wanted to settle down.

So here we are…Florida, of all places.

Each year, as we all grow older, I feel the pain of living away from my family a little more.

During our trip we split our time between the Seattle area, and then we also head over to the mountains for a little while where my husband’s Mother lives. I look forward to our visits with so much excitement and anticipation each time we get the opportunity. When it’s time to leave, my heart aches for at least 3 days before we actually have to leave due to the dread of saying goodbye and never having enough time with our loved ones.

So this year, on the 5th day of our 8 day visit, as we packed up our rental car and prepared to head back over the mountains for our last days, I saw something that I never noticed before.

We loaded up the car that sat warming for about 30 minutes- anything to steal a moment more of each others company. We threw in the final suitcase, shut the hatch and prepared to start wrangling children.

Deep Breath, put on a smile and hold back tears…time to say goodbye for another 6-12 months.

I hugged my mother-in-law tight, thanked her for all of the love she put into the past 4 days of home-cooked meals, cleaning up after my children, and having us in her amazingly cozy home. I watched her hug her son, her grandchildren, and then again- her baby, her son, the father of her grandchildren, my husband- one more time. We hopped in the car, and as we pulled away, that is when I saw it.

When I looked out the window as we started down the driveway, I saw the woman who raised my husband wave goodbye, holding back tears I am sure, and send us off for an unknown amount of time.

My heart sank.

Immediately, it was like all those years of my mom holding on to me just a little too long as I left to go back to North Carolina, or Florida, or wherever in the world I was living finally made sense…

I looked back at my 3 year old son, and flashed forward 20 years from now.

Someday my little baby will have a wife. He might have a few children, who I will love just as much as I have loved him.He may decide that he wants to settle down where his wife’s family is from. Who knows, maybe they will throw a wild card like Zach and I did and move to Texas.

And I will have to be strong. I will have to be understanding. I will have to steal extra hugs when I can and find joy in washing his socks and underwear when he brings the family to visit.

Mom, I get it know.

To my Mother-in-law…thank you.

I understand now. I know why you hold on so tight. I know why you choke back tears when we say goodbye. I just get it now. And thinking of when it will be my turn for those days, oh, its unbearable right now.

To the women who raised us, you are so strong. Thank you for raising us. Thank you for letting us spread our wings. Thank you for so patiently waiting for us to come back to you.