The countdown began the moment our son decided he would be attending college far, far away. (OK, it’s really just a five our plane trip, but for this Mommy, it’s far, far away.)
Once we got through the dreaded application process, this whole college thing became a thrilling ride. The acceptance letters rolling in, visiting the schools, the decision making, high school graduation- it has all been a wave of experiences filled with excitement, anticipation, a bit of fear and, on my part, a whole lot of denial.
What denial? … I’m too busy enjoying watching our son as he grows exponentially through this phase. He has already registered for his Fall classes, begun working at his first paid job, opened his own checking account and taken ownership of his financial responsibilities. All of this has been a wonderful distraction from the fact that our boy will soon be leaving.
Oh gosh- he’s gonna leave.
The flashbacks come in waves. Holding him as a newborn. Watching him as he walks into Kindergarten for the first time. Birthday parties. Shows. Auditioning for High School. Making brownies. Snuggling. I revisit all of the stages of his life.
I meticulously sort through my memories, trying to determine if I’ve given him all of the skills he’ll need to be on his own. What will he do if he gets sick? Will he know how to handle himself in scary situations? Will he ever do laundry? What if, what if, what if… And how the heck did my baby grow up so fast?
Without question we were (are) helicopter parents. We sheltered both our boys, but particularly our first born, probably more than we should have. It’s understandable. After the loss of our daughter, we were hyper-aware of his every breath. But as he enters this next phase of his life, I know it’s time for me to step back and give him space. Growing pains. I’m gonna miss my boy.
But in my heart, I know he is ready. He watched and supported me as I survived breast cancer. He’s witnessed both my husband and I struggle with finances, always prioritizing what’s most important for us: family. He’s survived a pandemic and dealt with all the social ramifications. And he found his way to this amazing university; one where he’s excited to explore and expand in new directions.
He has many firsts awaiting him. Until now, we’ve had the wonderful privilege of witnessing so many of them: from his first tooth and first step to the look in his eyes when he saw his first paycheck and realized he’s becoming an adult. We’ll be there as he moves into his college dorm. After that, we’ll have to settle for hearing about any new firsts. And I guess that’s the way it’s meant to be.
Doesn’t mean it’s easy. We’re a few weeks away from the big departure and I just want to stop time.
But as I take my step back, I see a young man who makes me smile. I’m not sure whether I’ve done this parenting thing right, if there is such a thing. I’m not sure what his future will hold. But I am sure of him. He is a magnificent, loving, kind, caring young man with a heart as pure as they come. And this is his journey.
Whether you’re a mother who worked outside the home or one, like me, who dedicated your life to raising your children, this transition is full of opportunities to reflect, support, and acknowledge all that we’ve accomplished up until now. It’s a time for celebration.
Now I get to delight in his next chapter as this forces us all into ours. Our younger son starts high school, I’ve got more time for coaching, and my husband will do his best to watch Star Trek without his best buddy by his side.
It’s getting closer… and I intend to soak in every moment.
I’m here to support women going through any transition that may be challenging. Reach out to me here.