The summer is almost over and days flew by much too quickly. For the past few months each of us have been preoccupied with the changes that are taking place in the house and in our lives. In four short days, my oldest son will begin his next chapter of life and leave for college. He will face new experiences, people and for the first time in his life be away from home. This is an exciting time and we all share in his enthusiasm for what his future will hold. As his mom, I could not be more proud of him for reaching a goal that he set for himself many years ago.
Even though I am bursting with pride and joy, my heart is breaking. For the past few months I have avoided imagining what life will look like without him kicking around with the rest of us. I have refused to talk about the upcoming eventuality of his leaving and on occasion forbid mentioning the “C” word. Instead, I have been mindful of enjoying the present moment and making sure that he had everything he needed for his new adventure. I have focused my mental energy on the long list of things to do and this has helped to distract me from thinking about all of the changes that are mere days away. On many occasions, my mind recalls memories of him as a little boy and my goal of avoiding thinking about his departure are put on hold.
In a few days our family dynamic will change. A member of our pack will not be around all the time and I will be losing the best hype man I could have ever asked for. Up until now, we have been a united gang of misfits with a common experience and bond with each other. We all survived my coming out, getting a divorce, shared custody, two moves and the regular everyday challenges that life brings on any given day. Our family has gone through so much in the last five years and through it all, we emerged as a strong and tightly knit team. We are a pretty laid back bunch, but there is a definite heaviness in the air as this change quickly approaches. Daily life is proceeding, but things just feel off.
I can’t speak for everyone else in the house, but for the last few days, I get choked up each time get a glimpse of the packed boxes in the hallway. They are a visual reminder of my failed attempt to engineer and create a machine that could stop or slow down time. We have been rearranging rooms, cleaning and organizing. The busy work has been a great diversion from the mental countdown but has not made any of this any more bearable. While we all understand that the only thing that is constant is change, I cannot change the fact that I am just not ready for this.
I am simultaneously feeling opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. It is strange to be so excited, proud and happy but sad at the same time. My mind is filled with questions about whether or not I taught him enough about how to be kind and generous. I wonder if he knows enough about how to cook for himself and take care of his affairs without me around. I wonder if I spent enough time with him just being.
Trying to play armchair quarterback for a game that has been going on for 18 years may sound insane to some. For a mom, this type of questioning is a necessary step in our quest to stay near the top of candidates running for the elusive mother of the year award. For a noble as my intentions were, this train of thought made me feel very anxious.
I decided there were better ways of preparing for his departure than second guessing the last 18 years of my parenting decisions. Instead, I am choosing daily to trust that in fact that he is as ready as he will ever be and that my efforts were enough. I fully expect to be a mess when we drive away this weekend and head for home without him. I expect that this will affect his brothers in a way that only brothers can understand. Even our dog is going to miss her boy. I also know that we will all adjust and deal with the emotions of it all individually and as a whole family.
The idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is definitely true in our family. What I will miss the most is the energy that he brings to our family and home. His absence will be felt by each of us individually and as a whole. I know that we will all miss him and that our family will be down a man at times because he is not here. Giving up the view of his life from my front row seat is one of the most difficult things about him going away. I also know that there will be moments when he will also be feeling the changes on his end and the separation from his family.
My hope and job now is to make sure that he will be able to feel our love, support and encouragement as his surroundings change and his life away from our crazy house begins. I am eternally blessed that God chose me to be this kid’s mom and so grateful that I get to be a spectator as his continued journey through life unfolds, even if it is from 193 miles away.