Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” – Jamie AndersonFrom the book “I Really Needed This Today” by Hoda Kotb and Jane Lorenzini
Last year a dear friend of mine gave me this book of words to live by when I was riding the waves of grief that arose from my divorce. I didn’t yet know of the trauma that was about to strike with my oldest son, Ozzie when I read this quote for the first time last July. And I find it serendipitous that the above quote was the daily reading for yesterday, which happened to be the day that my ex and two younger children embarked on a road trip to visit Ozzie at his therapeutic boarding school, while I remain behind all alone in my big empty house. Grief really is just love that you cannot give, and yesterday I grieved for the fact that my entire former family would be together without me. There was a sense of FOMO, the fear of missing out. And the sudden down-pouring of tears made me aware of another wound of mine that’s asking to be healed, which is the bittersweet heartache that I think all mothers feel: the pain of letting go.
For as long as I can remember, I had always wanted to be a mother and for thirteen years I dedicated my life to caring for my three little birds as a stay-at-home mom. I threw extravagant birthday parties, hosted countless playdates, drove them to a multitude of activities, helped with homework, played legos and princess and monster hunters with them. They were the joy of my life. As parents, it’s our job to successfully launch our children out into the world. During their time in our homes, we help them build the strength to fly and when the time comes, we cheer them on as they set forth on the first independent chapter of their lives. We all know that this time is coming after a mere 18 summers together. And yet, when the time comes it can be so hard to let go and trust that they will be ok on their own, without us, their parents. If our children have siblings, we want to know that they will love spending time with each other once they’ve successfully flown from the nest.
So if this is the ultimate goal of raising successful children, why do I have feel like I’m missing out when my three beautiful children are together today without me?
I think I’m feeling grief this morning because the flight that Ozzie took from our nest was one year premature, and in many ways I feel robbed of our last year together. In 2020, we tore the fabric of their lives in two when my ex and I divorced and our children were abruptly thrown out of their loving nest. They quickly needed to learn to fly between our two homes, and poor Ozzie wasn’t ready to take flight. There are so many things I want to share with Ozzie, but cannot. At least, not right now. Last night, as I was in tears thinking about my FOMO for today, Jack T. Colton lovingly reminded me that their time together isn’t about me. It’s about THEM learning to love one another independently of their mamma bird. And that’s the paradigm shift that I needed. Instead of FOMO, I am learning to embrace JOMO today: the joy of missing out. Because my kids need this time together without me. And deep in my soul I know that they are going to be ok, especially if they hold tightly to one another throughout their lives. And I believe they will.
In Three Little Birds Bob Marley sings “Don’t worry about a thing; every little thing is gonna be alright.” I remember this song playing over the speakers of our rickety old Tahitian bus when my ex and I were on our way back to the airport at the end of our honeymoon, and I had such peace in my heart. Sitting on that bus 21 years ago, I had no idea where my life would lead me. I may never understand how or why our lives are unfolding the way they are, but I do know that I have the choice to resist what’s happened and grow bitter resentment, or embrace what’s happened and grow loving acceptance. Today I choose to accept with a grateful heart that my children get to spend the day together. And in a few short weeks, when my foot is fully healed, I will have the chance to visit Ozzie with my Mom. In the meantime, I sing this sweet melody of reassurance in my heart, and I will sit in my backyard, full of JOMO as I watch the birds fly freely, “singing a sweet song, a melody pure and true, singing this is my message to you“.
Think about the times and places in your life when you allow yourself to suffer from FOMO (I know I have plenty!). Now let this song enter into your heart and consider how you might shift that FOMO into JOMO today. If you make that shift, leave a love note below for the Let Love Rise community to share in your JOMO!