Older Son arrived one warm November day in 1996 exactly as doctors had predicted. After just one night in the hospital, without verifying any credentials, nor requesting neither resume nor character references, and without a care in the world of my general preparedness (save the fact that we had an acceptable car seat secured in our vehicle), the hospital staff sent me home with this teeny newborn.
Husband and I felt like we had gotten away with something. What the *#@! did we know about caring for a baby?
Somehow, between feedings, diaper changes, baby teeth, big kid teeth and traversing one boy’s life from an infant to a teenager, we figured it out. Or, more accurately, Older Son taught us, patiently, day by day.
Last month, that adored baby-turned-young-man packed his boxes for his next new adventure: college. My heart aches for me and celebrates for him in equal measure.
Once upon a time, it felt like I had all the time in the world with him. Time to play, to laugh, to teach. Time to travel, play sports, and spoil him and his friends. Miles and miles of time stretched before us, like a rambling country road. But once Son reached high school, I started panicking, because suddenly it was clear: time was running out.
“Eighteen years passes so very quickly…endless time, years of it…that slips through your fingers somewhere between diaper duty and senior awards night.”
Eighteen Blinks by Sherri Kuhn
Alarm mounted further as college move-in day approached. Had I taught him everything which I’d intended? Certainly I missed something important, something imperative.
List-making always makes me feel calmer, so I thought long and hard about a list that would quell my mommy worries without bombarding Son with too much unsolicited advice. What would be brief and memorable yet cover a huge range of frets, from “floss your teeth” to “don’t lose your sense of self and strength of character in the chaos which can be freshman year”?
Is it even possible to put into words what’s on a mom’s heart as she watches her child walk away from her, down a new, probably exciting, definitely uncertain path? In the end, here’s what I came up with.
❤ Remember your moral compass: Yours has always been quite strong, Son. Trust it to guide you well. (Big thanks to Husband for this bit of wisdom.)
❤ Take care of yourself, mind, body, spirit: Get your rest! Brush your teeth! Say your prayers!
❤ Jump in: Four years of new adventures and experiences stretch before you. Satisfy your curiosity. (safely, please!)
❤ Be kind: Or, more accurately, continue to let your kindheartedness lead you.
❤ Remember that you are cherished: And adored. And loved. And missed.❤
Fly safely and swiftly, dear dear Son.
“What happens when unspeakable sadness collides with unimaginable happiness? Children grow up.” Time Falls Away by Stacey Conner
This post first appeared on Prayers and Piazzas.