One week from today, I say goodbye to a part of my life that I’ve had for more than 18 years. In less than five days, we head to University of Florida and we say goodbye to the boy and hello to the man.
I’m not really sure how one does that, and these past few days have been the hardest of all. I keep asking myself, have I done enough? Have I been in the present moment enough with him? I go from “get out of here, you’re ready” to “don’t go yet, I need more time.”
Those who know me, know I feel things deeply. And that's been no exception over the past few days. I'm tearing up a lot. But what is getting to me is just not saying goodbye to Tiger. I am ready for him to take on this next chapter of his life. Where my heart is a little shaky is with Teddi. My work as a mom will continue with Tiger in spurts (I will always be his mom), but he’s about to step out on his own. He’s ready. I’ve done my work.
Now my life turns to Teddi full time.
From the moment Teddi was born, I was always curious about how close she was to Tiger. My sisters and I were close growing up (we're closer now), but I never had that kind of closeness. My memory (which I’m sure is wrong) is that they either tortured me or ignored me. And by torture, I mean the things every sibling does: laugh at you when you’re sick; trade you a nickel for your dime, because as they said, “Nickels are bigger so they are better”; tell you to pet the nice dog, only to have the dog either bite you in the a** or bite you in the nose (yes, that happened twice, you’d think I’d learn). The typical stuff siblings do. The jokes.
So I used to look occasionally at Teddi and Tiger and think it was odd they were so close. Heck, I even looked at how close Bart was to his sisters and brother and think that was odd.
I’ve come to realize this is normal. This is beautiful. This is wonderful. And right now, this is what’s breaking my heart.
I’m excited for Tiger. But how will Teddi adjust without him? And I’m getting that question a lot from people who know how close they are. How is Teddi?
When we found out we were having a girl 14 years ago, we were so happy as we had a wonderful little boy and now a little girl. But it was challenging coming up with a name. When you name your first child Tiger, you just can’t name your second one Brittany (not that we would). We chose four potential names for her: Montana (Bart went to college there and I loved the idea of a western name for her and Idaho just didn’t sound right); Ariel (because I loved Disney's "The Little Mermaid" and what little girl wouldn’t love knowing she was named after a human fish), Teddi (because I loved the show “Sisters” and the independent, take-no-prisoners-loving-life sister named Teddi) and Samantha, because Sam Sullivan for a girl was just so cool to me (but again, when you name your first child Tiger, you can’t give your second child one of the most popular names in 2002).
Montana, Samantha, Ariel, or Teddi. We just couldn’t decide. So we did what any great parent would do. We let our 5-year-old son pick the name. And of course, a 5-year-old is going to choose the name Teddi.
So, Teddi it was.
Maybe that’s why they are so close. He named her.
And they were a perfect pair of siblings. He was always laid back and she was always the powerhouse. I’m really not sure how he took some of the things she did to him. I think that’s just typical of an older brother and younger sister. But it’s been fun the past few years watching the tables turn and watching the tricks he plays on her. Jokes and tricks. But among the jokes was a closeness and bond that was just beautiful to see, something I wish for every sibling out there.
What I’ve also seen over the past few months is the beginning of separation. Where they used to hang out together a lot, lately he’s been in his room, she in hers. I think they are preparing themselves for what’s to come. That is until this past week. They are back at it. They’ve actually gone on walks together to catch Pokemon. Our little Ash and Pikachu are at it again. She’s threatened him that if he doesn’t call her once a week when he’s at college, he’ll be sorry.
So all of this is to say, I’m starting to realize that it’s not just saying goodbye to Tiger that’s going to be hard (although it will be). It’s helping Teddi transition that is going to take all of Bart’s dad skills and my mom skills.
Transitions. Life is full of them.
So, to those I work with, my friends and all the other things that pull me in 20 different directions on a daily basis, you’ll have to forgive me this week. I’m going to be teary. And my mind is going to be on a few other things. My major work this week is saying goodbye to a part of my life and welcoming in a new one. And helping my son AND my daughter do the same.
To get me through it, I created a quick video for the both of them. The song has always held a special spot in my heart where Tiger is concerned. It’s from another Disney movie (I need to watch other things) and is playing during a part in the movie when a son runs to his Mom’s arms. But in listening to it again a few weeks ago, it really captures the love I see between Tiger and Teddi.
It’s my gift to them. It’s actually my gift to Bart and me.
They will probably look at it with boredom. Bart and I will cherish it.
This transition will be interesting. Teddi’s always wanted my full attention – she didn’t always like sharing Tiger with me. That’s where the typical sibling thing was so true to form. Now, I can be that total mom to her, without worrying if I’m giving equal time to Tiger. She’s going to get all my attention.
Now watch… I finally have her all to myself and she’s reaching that age where she won’t want it.