Today I drove my youngest son to school for the last time. At the end of the summer he is off to college. That’s it—I’m hanging up this portion of parenting—the job of carpooling, coordinating schedules so that everybody gets where they need to be and has a car or ride to get there is over.
On one hand, I’m so ready to have him move on: I am ready to stop nagging over the mountain of clothes that seems to grow bigger each day; to stop fussing over how late he can stay out and what chores he needs to do before he can go out; to not be negotiating over all the details of a teenage life.
Lately, we have come to an agreement to let the small stuff go. We both know very soon we will not have these daily dramas to distract us from the real love we share with each other. I feel my heart starting to move to that place already.
Just as I had to grieve the loss of the goofy, theatrical young boy when he became a teen, I now have to grieve the loss of the wily, complicated teen as he steps into the first phase of moving out of the nest towards independence. I know that when he returns, temporarily, he will be someone to get to know all over again.
I hope he has enough discipline to do what he needs to do to be successful, tools in his toolbox to navigate whatever challenges come his way, despite the multitude of seductive distractions a freshman at college faces. And if he doesn’t, well, he’ll learn what he needs to about that; I won’t be there to do it for him anymore, and that’s a really good thing.
Letting go of the life that was, and is never to be again, is so hard. If I could have it to do over again, boy, would I be wiser. But I don’t, and I need to accept that I gave it my best, and the times I fell short, to forgive myself. Then I will be able to be present with what is happening right now.
One of the things I would have done differently was to be less future focused and more present in the days when he and his brother were young. What I can learn from that and through meditation is to aspire to be as present as I can right now, so I don’t miss this current phase. After all, that is all we ever have—right here, right now.
“Feel the aliveness in your body. That anchors you in the Now.”
And right now, it’s time to help him pack for his first big journey away from home. I want to stick extra trust, faith and love in those bags—that’s my job now.
Everything changes, that’s the way it is
Yet what is real remains the same
Everything changes, so best to let go
And become part of the change.