My young son began his last year of middle school today. Yesterday he made his way to school on his own to pick up his schedule and figure out where his classes where held. In the past, I have always been a part of this journey. Yesterday, he did it by himself. I encouraged him to go, without me. I so want him to leave middle school with his own voice, his independence, and his self-esteem in tact. I tried desperately to cling to the moment as I watched him walk out our front door, confident and happy. I was proud of him. He was growing-up. As soon as I regained composure, my mind raced to a disturbing thought, next year he will begin high school! The voice inside my head began to scream, 'high school goes so fast! In a blink of an eye, he will be leaving home too.'
Late in the day, Will pulled me aside and sweetly looked into my eyes. "We need to make you play date for tomorrow, Mom," he informed me. I looked into his powerful eyes and knew he understood how hard the first day of school was going to be for me. Shouldn't I be worried about the first day of school for him. We all know how difficult middle school can be. Yet, he was worried about me. Isn't he too young to be parenting me? What have I done? Will this put him on the psychiatrists' couch in years to come?
As much as I fear the day the boys leave for college, I hope with all my heart that they leave happily, with no regrets and with no fear. I want them to know we will always be a family, I am always here for them, but when the moment is right, it will be time for them to step out in the world and figure out who they are and how they want to live their lives.
Yes, it will be difficult for me but I don't want this to impact them at all. For once in their lives, this is no guilt trip. A mother is only as happy as her least happy kid. It is up to me to find my own happiness when they are gone. They will always be the center of my world but perhaps not my whole world. This is the part I have to work on.
My husband, who turns fifty-two today always has said, "At 18, they are out the door." Ever since Kyle was born he has said, "At 18, he is out the door." This has been our standing joke. I of course say, "They can stay until they are ready to leave!" He looks into my sad and playful eyes and repeats, "18 and out the door!" Bless my wonderful husband with whom I have had the pleasure of celebrating 21 birthdays. He recognized all those years ago that I would have trouble letting go. He has always reminded me that before kids there was Tom and Terry. And Tom and Terry is good. No, Tom and Terry is great. We have laughed about growing old together. I tease him that he will be chasing me around our rocking chairs when we can barely walk, still trying to grab my ass. Well, we are getting closer and closer to this time. I hope I am right and he still wants to chase me around those rockers. And bless you Tom for giving the boys the balance to know that leaving home is what they are suppose to do and it will be the best time in their lives. Thank you, Tom for not letting me 'mother' them too much, for still wanting to grab my now overly bodacious bottom! Bless you and Happy Birthday.
Today I must prepare for a birthday feast of Coq au vin. I can't wait for Will to return from school and tell me all about his day. Just for today, I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.
(c) 2009 Terry Castle
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