Parenting books, blogs and manuals can teach you a lot of things. They can teach you how to wean your child off the bottle or pacifier, how to get them to sleep in their own beds or stay over their first night at grandma’s. They can help you learn how to get prepared for their first day of school, their first camping trip and then all weekend overnights at friends. They can teach you a lot of things, but they can’t teach you how to let them go.
“I don’t know how to capture the way I see you moving on… The way i see you growing too old for the ways I said I loved you..”
One of the hardest things for me lately is trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my oldest is going to be 18 this year. He had been my whole world since shortly before I was 17 and although the last few years have been spent with him spreading his wings in independence, I knew I always held the string that could reign him in when he got too far from me. It’s scares me to think that I am going to have to let go of that string soon and trust that he can find his own way.
When I left home for the first time I didn’t quite consider my mother’s feelings. I made the decision to leave based off of what I felt was best for myself and although she wholeheartedly disagreed with me, she had no choice but to let me go. Now, like with most things in my life, karma has put me in her shoes. My son’s choice to move to Colorado last year for school had put so much strain on my heart. I didn’t quite agree with him and giving up one of the last years before he was an adult was really difficult, but I also knew that it was the first of his choices. He was doing what he felt was best for himself and that decision (not for the first time) wasn’t up to me.
“I’m not angry at you, I’m trying to get it through to you that everything I have ever done in my whole life since I was pregnant was for you. I had to make sacrifices, a lifetime of sacrifices, so that you could grow up and have choices. I gave everything I had for you and now I need you to give everything you have for yourself.”
I never really tell people how hard it is to be away from him. For years when he would leave in the summer I would just lose myself at clubs, with friends and drinks. Most of the time I wouldn’t sleep at home because his absence was too great and I’d fall into the upper reaches of depression. Then he’d come back and my purpose would be restored and my reason would find me again.
Most of this feeling had left me once I had gotten married and had little Tot. Obviously clubbing and drinks with friends were tossed out the window; replaced with Sesame Street and Hotwheels. Though sometimes there is this residue of that emptiness that haunts me when he’s not here. I try not to look at the door to his empty room when I pass by, try not to think of him every Sunday when The Walking Dead comes on or at night when he’d pester me about working. It used to be that when I thought of him it gave my life meaning, but lately I can only see the time I lost with him when he was little that I’ll never get back.
“Just a little bit longer Cody. You gotta be a big boy for me.”
“I’m not a big boy, I’m not! I want to go with you! I’ll hold your hand.”
When I look up other bloggers or parents whose children have gone off into the world, they seem so sure of their children’s future. Their kids are going off to college or starting major careers and they content themselves with the fact that they have direction. I think it is easier within those boundaries to let go of the string and watch their children take control. But my son doesn’t have a direction right now and he’s not even sure if he wants to go to college. He started so many emotional and social things late that he’s still unsure about what he wants to do with his life. For these last few years (and for the next year and a half) his only objective has been to make it through high-school and that has been sorely difficult at times. How does a mom find that same solace when there is only the unknowing ahead?
“I’m gonna really miss you baby.”
“I’ll really miss you too mom.”
“You listen to your grandma. Be smart. Be good. And be careful.”
“I know mom. Can I call you?”
“Of course you can call me! I’ll give you my number and you can call me whenever you want.”
“What will you be doing?”
“That doesn’t matter. You call me whenever, ever, you want to.”
“Can I call you just to talk?”
My baby is turning 18 this October. I don’t know what he’s going to do with his life when it becomes his own, maybe none of us really do know that, but I know that when he’s ready he is leaving with choices. I could not give him so many things in his life, but I gave him that.
He’ll be coming home after school is over. Tot wants to help him get a job at his favorite carwash where everyone loves him. I know that when he gets home all he’ll want to do is go see his friends and hanging out with mom isn’t the coolest thing to do, but the room in the hallway won’t be empty anymore and it won’t hurt so much to walk by it.
I wanted to tell you that no one can teach you how to let your children go, because it’s impossible. They can teach you how to let go of their hands when crossing the street or how to help them board an airplane, but they can’t teach you to let them go because we can’t.
What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
“For her to be happy.”