The long good-bye

I’m having to face the reality that I am no longer his world, though he is still mostly mine.

Winter break is almost over.  My one and only will be leaving to go back to college after a month here at home with me.

The parent-child bond is complicated and messy and loud, but at the same time, so very simple, and so incredibly strong.  It’s pure love, and it’s complicated, messy, loud… and simple. He knows I love him and I know he loves me — we tell each other often and in heartfelt ways. But I am not the most important person in his life anymore, not like I was. He is moving into the time of his life where his tribe will grow exponentially. He needs to make room for all these new lights in his life. And that means I need to step aside.  Not entirely out of the picture, but into the wings.

It’s hard to accept, even as I realize this “good-bye” has been in the works for a long, long time.

As hard as it is, I wouldn’t stop him from flying away for anything. I’ve laid the groundwork. I’ve been the best mom I could be, and that won’t change. But my role as his mentor, guardian, teacher, confidant, healer, comforter… that’s all changed; and that’s as it should be.  But I wasn’t *quite* ready for all that to change at once.  Or at least, what seemed to be all at once.  And I’m still not certain how to parent an adult child.  It’s a steep learning curve — much like when I first became a parent.  Except, instead of a helpless, tiny person, I now have a tall, broad-shouldered, sure-in-his-convictions young adult with whom to contend.

Over these last 30 days, I’ve seen glimmers of the mature man he will become.  I’ve seen how these first four months of (semi) independence have begun to shape him.  I’ve seen how his world has grown, and his wonder at his place in it.  We still argue, that hasn’t changed.  There have been times when I’ve thought “You can go back to school now.” But, as we come down to the last few days, I know I will miss him — even at his most annoying self. Even at his most independent, know-it-all, “I’m going out with friends (again)” self.  And yes, even his “I don’t need a curfew” self.  This first long break… boy, we’ve all had some adjustments to make.  All as adults, now.

Our children, they don’t mean to hurt us with the quick or off-hand “good-byes.” So as all good mamas do, I will muffle the sound of my heart cracking a bit more during each of these farewells which are all part of the long good-bye.

I’m not quite ready, but he is.  And, because I love him more than I could have ever imagined loving anyone, I will let go a little more each time we say good-bye.

But I can’t promise I’ll ever be ready to completely let go.

Until Friday, Friends.