Just don’t say it. I know it’s meant to help. But seriously, don’t say, “You’ll be ok.”
Don’t say, “You must be so excited.”
Don’t tell me, “He is going to be just fine without you. You raised him well.”
Don’t give me platitudes about all of the reasons I should be happy, rest easy, or celebrating. I know all of this! But the truth is, I just can’t yet. I am not being silly. I am not being overprotective. And I’m not forgetting to count my blessings.
The truth is that all of these lasts are hitting me really hard and it hurts. It just hurts a lot.
My little boy is graduating.
Eighteen years ago I brought this tiny little human into the world, knowing his entire dependency rested upon my shoulders. I loved him before I knew him and the moment I felt his first little nudge, I pledged to move mountains for him. And now, he is leaving my nest and it is hard; very hard. Someone said that, “it’s not the end of the world” and I know that but it is the end of so very much.
It is the end of hearing the pecking of the keyboard as he fights to save the virtual world. It is the end of late night pizza cooking in the oven. It is the end of belly laughter as he and his friends solve the world’s problems. It is the end of soccer balls being kicked around the house. It is the end of hearing his footsteps as he comes down the stairs. It is the end of late night talks as he lays across my bed. It’s the end of so much.
As I think about the future, I realize that even when he comes back, he won’t really be coming back. It’ll be a quick visit but nothing more.
He will be here but he will have one foot out the door.
College is going to offer him so much. New experiences that I’m not a part of, new friends whom I won’t know, and new challenges that I won’t always understand. He has always marched to his own beat but at least I knew the beat.
I have spent his entire life knowing where he was, what he was doing, who he was doing it with. His school was an extension of our circle. I knew his friends and their parents. His teachers were always a call away. I could sleep soundly because I new he was safe just down the hall. I knew he would be in church with me every week and would give God thanks over his food. I knew when he was hurting, when he was content, and when he needed to just be. I just knew. Now, I won’t know. I won’t know that he had rough day. I won’t know what his professors think of him. I won’t know if he can’t sleep or doesn’t feel well. I won’t know whose car he is getting into or dorm he is spending time in. I just won’t know.
I understand the concept of failure to launch. I’ve worked with several young adults on that very thing so I get the importance of letting him go and trusting in his foundation. I know that he will be successful. He already has proven his abilities in so many ways. But I also still see that little boy who would run to momma when he heard a loud noice or needed to kiss his booboo away. I still see a young boy who would spend hours building legos, tuning out the world around him when his young world was falling apart. I still see the young man who had his heart broken and just sat with me without saying a word. I know he survived all of it.
I also know that my heart is breaking into tiny little pieces at the thought of him leaving and the silence that will stay around.
The first of many lasts.
Someone asked me the other day if I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. What exactly does that mean? The life we have shared for over 18 years isn’t a chapter, it’s a book. It’s adventure. It is spiritual. It is funny and real. But that book is ending after 18 chapters. What comes next is a mystery and I’m not that thrilled to start writing it just yet.
My husband and I have spent 18 years loving, raising, teaching, and disciplining this miracle God trusted us with. I read somewhere that “to have a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It grows and adapts. To let go of a child as they transition into adulthood, a body changes, too. It cries and it grieves and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.” Saying goodbye to my son is much harder than all the sentimental sayings make it seem. Because that’s what going to college is. It’s goodbye. And it’s trusting that I did everything God expected me to do to prepare him for this complicated, merciless world.
I know that in time, it will be ok. It’ll be better than ok because I’ll see him flourish into the man he dreams of becoming while continuing to grow from the roots planted from God.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?Isaiah 43:19
He is doing a new thing. And it’s going to be amazing to see the new thing that God does within my son’s life. But letting him go it isn’t easy to do. I think of John 16:33 and grow still with worry. “In this world you will have trouble.” But I can’t forget the rest of the verse. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I don’t want to go from knowing everything in his life to knowing very little but at least I can rest in the knowledge that God does know. I can’t go from seeing him every day to the occasional text, call or visit. But I can pray fervently for him, trusting that the Holy Spirit will speak to his heart. I can’t go into his crazy, messy room and be okay with not making sure he cleans it up or throws away the multitude of water bottles. But I can trust that he will hear my words when he can’t find his favorite hoodie. I can’t do any of the things that involve my son not being in my house, under my roof and under my protection. But God can and will because He has gone behind him, before him, and sometimes even carries him. I can’t do these things without pain and sorrow and tears. But God can.
So I will do it. I will hug him. I will triple check that he has everything he needs. I will hug him again. And then I will let him go off into his new world.
I. Will. Do. It.
But I will cry. I will worry. I will wish with every fiber of my being that I could turn back time. I will grieve for that little boy while also rejoicing in his future. I will wish and pray and….hurt.
The day will come when I will find a new place in his life. I will always be his momma. He will always be my little boy. There will be new experiences and new memories. I’ll get to celebrate his successes and support his hard choices. I will be joyful in hope; patient in trouble; and faithful in prayer. I’ll be there always…but in a new way.
But for now, just don’t say it will be ok.