Spring’s yellow: A wistful season of beginnings and endings

Motherly Collective

I always learn of spring’s arrival on the cross-town bus with the bursts of yellow forsythia along the Central Park Transverse. The shrubs must fully flower overnight to surprise us all unaware. After living four months with barren trees, the bright color is breathtaking. 

It takes a few weeks for the extreme cold to relax its grip. Yellow-green buds start to appear everywhere. In the park. On the tree-lined streets. On the bushes at the foot of grand pre-war buildings. Soon after, clusters of small white blossoms canopy many lucky streets lined with Callery Pear. In two weeks their white petals drift down onto the streets with the slightest breeze. I start crossing the park on foot to take in all the pinks: cherries, magnolias, eastern redbuds and crab apples.  Now the trees are resplendent with their full bright green crowns.

As color blooms back into the city and the cold wanes, I feel a familiar sadness take hold. It creeps into my chest. Despite these layered symbols of beginnings, April means two months of school remain. Every year it’s time to start letting go: pre-school, kindergarten, second grade—the last baby teeth!—-fifth grade, sixth—the last magic year, god forbid—senior year of high school!

Strangely, I’ve never felt this sense of loss so consistently on my children’s birthdays. Perhaps I’m too focused on planning parties or picking the perfect gift. It’s always been in the Spring, sitting outside, marveling at the yellowing tint of day, when I’ve felt that sharp tug. Every year, the same deep heartache. 

But this spring is different. This past fall, my daughter went off to college across the country and my son entered high school. They’re both taller than I am. They both help me with my continuous technology troubles. My daughter now loves oysters—so grown-up! I marvel at how well my son eats broccoli, spinach, and even cabbage despite his previous refusal of the entire class of vegetables. They’re both well-loved in large gregarious friend groups. They’re both also in their first serious relationships, learning how to love.

Mothering requires holding back what your heart wants so desperately to do. My impulse is always to hold, rock and, more often than not, clutch. It was terribly difficult to stand back after my toddler tripped, to wait those ten long seconds so she could react herself. I only wanted to scoop her up for a big hug. It was difficult to watch my first grade son get swiped hard by his little buddy and to give them both the space to work things out. Difficult to stay silent and respect my sixth grade daughter’s choice of friends. Difficult to stand outside my teenage son’s door the day his girlfriend broke up with him. I wanted so badly to knock. 

I’m always baffled by how organic separation is, how they release themselves from me in fits and starts. Every day I had to ask my toddler daughter whether she was a “big girl” or a “baby” because I never knew what to expect. Did she want help with her shoes that day or did she want to spend ten minutes trying to tie her laces herself? Did she want to be fed or did she want to wield her own spoon? My son experimented with separation in much longer phases over months and the separation was more internal in nature. I could always predict when he would emotionally take a step away because he would first draw in extra close to shore up his person before making the leap. It was nothing anyone could see. I could just feel it. They keep growing and budding into a deeper shade of themselves. 

And so I have been able to relish this transitional season for the miracle it is for the first time again in eighteen years. I am careful not to go around the city touching every magnificent green bud I encounter. No flower and certainly no baby bud needs an imprint of my finger. I usually indulge in touching just one bud per season. This spring I might go for two.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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