I never thought I’d be the kind of mother that got all weepy when my child moved out of the house and went to college. In fact, when I was eighteen and my mom took me to college and spent the whole weekend crying because I was leaving her, I vowed I’d never be that kind of mother.
I’ve pretty much raised my kids with the philosophy that I want them to spread their wings and fly, even if it meant their flight took them on a path far away from me. Let me preface all this by saying my kids are still fairly young and a long way off from leaving me and going to college.
Last Wednesday, my oldest child went out of town for the first time without myself or my husband. He went with one of my oldest and dearest friends to the beach. He’s good buddies with her son, and they wanted to bring along a play mate for her son. My child was gone from Wednesday to Saturday night, and I mentally patted myself on the back by how unfazed I was by the whole thing.
Smugly, I thought to myself I am definitely never going to have empty-nest syndrome like my mother did. I am so cool with my kids growing up. The mental pats on the back ended Sunday night. Sunday afternoon after my child had been home less than twenty-four hours, I drove him to his first overnight camp where I left him to stay for a week.
He got a bit nervous before I left, but at the time, I was still copacetic. I told him he was going to have a fabulous time at the amazing camp and get to meet all sorts of new people and do all sorts of amazing new things. That’s what life is about-experience adventures!
I didn't realize until later that night when I was sitting alone in my living room and my husband and youngest child were in bed, that I too had started a new adventure and wasn't all together as unfazed about it as I thought I would be. With the house quiet, I realized I really missed my precocious older son. Sure he and his brother mock wrestle every day and drive me up the wall, and yes I swear he is entering smart-alack teenage years way before he’s actually a teenager, but I miss him.
My mind started turning. Is he having fun? Is he lonely? Did he make any friends or did he feel left out or excluded at dinner, at campfire, or in the cabin? On and on my mind went until I got misty eyed, and I realized this is the first taste of what my mom experienced all those years ago when she said goodbye to me and watched me walk away from her and toward my new life. Letting him go to the beach with my friend had been easy because my friend is like a sister. I knew she’d watch over my child exactly as I would.
Letting him go to camp was a different story.
I think I know something now I never realized then. All those years ago my mom was crying for the loss of me, but she was probably also just plain old worried for me too. Was I going to be happy? Was I going to make friends? Was I going to make good grades or remember to never walk alone at night?
I feel like I’ll probably break that vow I made long ago to not get upset when my kids go off to college. Not because I won’t be able to handle missing them, I’ll manage somehow! I think the tears will come over worry! The world is a big, scary place sometimes and as a mom it’s my natural instinct to want to keep my babies close and protect them.
I know I can’t always keep my kids close, and truly I do want them to have grand life adventures. But I hope as the years pass between now and college, I can instill in them the strength to journey out, but the surety deep within that no matter how far they journey they’ll always be able to reach out and count on me. Somehow, through her tears, my mom left me with the assurance that she loved me enough to be sad that I was going, and that she loved me so much she wouldn’t want anything less than a grand, adventurous life for me.
This blog is dedicated to my mom, whom I called first thing this morning to tell her just how much I love her, how great she is, and how I luckily turned out to be more like her than I ever knew.
What about you? Do you have someone in your life you said you’d never be like, but then you realized you are like that person?
Have a great day!