My Work Here is Done

Author name
Sheila Broderick


As I celebrate my youngest child’s 18th birthday, I find myself thinking about all those mothers who will be sending their children to our campus in a matter of 4 months.  I offer thoughts that I shared with my daughter on April 5.


Well, Flannery….rumor has it that you, my baby, are 18 years old.  Like a branding, the memory of the first time I saw you is burned in my brain.  I laid down for a nap and poof, you are 18.

And I simply could not be more proud.


This year, I have struggled and struggled to figure out what to give to you.  And finally I decided the only thing or worth I can give you is this mirror of sorts.  I am going to share my experience of you.

Sharing this life with you is more beautiful than I have words to express.  Let’s be realsies, partners have come and gone, love has been lost, hearts have been broken, bank accounts laid bare.  We’ve buried a lot of bodies, right?  But, you and my total commitment and attachment to you, like modge podge to magazine pictures, have been unyielding, unwavering and decidedly uncrappy.

And for that and to you, my dear, I am so grateful.

Of all the mothers you could have chosen to share this, part 1 of your journey with, I am eternally grateful you chose me.

And I am really really excited about this next phase of your journey.  I suppose it is our journey.  To this point as we have traveled down this road together, we have walked pretty much side by side.  Perhaps I carried you at first then I put you down and you ran ahead of me, always beckoning me “catch up, mom,” “looks what’s around this corner!”  And there have been times, we know what they are, when you have carried me.  Remember this?  “Mom, he can’t love you if he doesn’t love himself.  AND HE DOESN’T LOVE HIMSELF!” 

I know it’s your 18th birthday, but honestly, I feel like I am the one receiving the gift.  And it’s all elegantly wrapped with a beautiful ribbon and I sit with it and wonder “what’s inside?”  And I shake it and try to guess and the anticipation …. You can feel it in the air.  The next phase of your journey….what’s in store?  What’s around the corner?   What surprises lie in wait?

I don’t know and I don’t want to know and I don’t want you to know.  Let’s be surprised.  Delightfully, giggly, obnoxiously surprised.  Goodbye to the little girl Flannery and hello to the woman Flannery.  At this part of your journey, it’s time for you to kick me off the train and go alone.  Not completely alone.  As e.e. cummings writes, you will always be in my heart, but you will take this next leg of the journey without my daily physical presence.  But always always with my love, my support and my last dying breath.  All of them are yours.  Kidneys, spleens, laundry done, soup made….whatever you need that I have is yours.  You got that beautiful mop of hair of yours from dad, but let’s be honest, you got those gorgeous legs from your mom.  And they are sturdy and strong and about 8 miles long.  They will carry you wherever you need to go.  And you got that heart of yours, that courageous don’tfuckwithmeorthoseiloveheart from you.  Not me, not dad, you made that yourself.

No one, no ONE, no one is more prepared, more deserving, more ready than Flannery Jones of Durham, NC.  I stand at the train station and I wave goodbye to you, to my heart and I stand with a fully charged cell phone waiting for your stories of all your adventures, your triumphs and your failures.  I am so excited to hear about the failures!  The total screw ups!!  The heartbreaks.  The times you kick ass!  I am ready for them all, but more importantly, so are you.

Bon Voyage!  Have a safe trip, but not too safe!  Saol fada chgat, a ghra mo chroi. (long life to you, love of my heart)