Last week we took our oldest to his high school freshman orientation. When I got the email inviting us, I stopped and just stared at it. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t a mistake, I was actually the parent of an almost freshman. A freshman? In high school?? Where has the time gone? When did my sweet chubby cheek little boy become a freshman in high school? It seems like just yesterday he was headed out to preschool excited about learning to write his name. He has always been a confident kid, he has always marched straight into any situation with ease, cool, calm and collected. (He gets that from his dad) This has been no exception, over the last couple of weeks I have seen in him a growing excitement at the thought of high school. He is talking about his classes, sports, drivers training and Jr. ROTC. (Heaven, help me!) He is getting ready more and more every day. Confident, excited and ready to take on this new chapter.
I, on the other hand, am a wreck. On the outside, I am holding it together. (Barely) On the inside I am a swirl of emotions, uncertainty and panic, sheer panic. I am not ready. When we give birth to these tiny little bundles of joy it is always in the back of our minds that they are only ours temporarily. One day eighteen or so years from now they will leave the nest. Eighteen years seems like an eternity when you’ve just carried a baby for nine months and endured thirty two hours of labor. Let me warn you, eighteen years is not that far away, for me fourteen years has already passed in the blink of an eye. I am looking four short years into the future and it is barreling at me like a freight train. Did I mention the panic??
This is such a weird transition time, one I never really gave much thought to until now. Fourteen is such a difficult age. He is still a child. I want to keep him safe and help him make all his decisions, protect him and take care of him. He definitely still needs his mom. But, he is also a young man. He needs to learn to make decisions on his own, he needs to stumble and learn to pick himself up, and he needs to learn how to do things for himself. See the problem here? It is a very delicate balance, supporting from the sidelines. Knowing when to step in and help and when to let them fail a little, make mistakes and learn from them. How did our mothers do it?
I think for me it is going to be a long process. One I will occasionally mess up along the way. Guaranteed there will be times I hang on and am overprotective when I should let go or times I want to step in and help and I won’t be able to. I just hope that through it all he remembers that I am always in his corner. That I love him, unconditionally. I will always, always be there for him. When I have to make hard parenting decisions it’s because I want the very best for him. There will be a lot of praying and having faith that his father and I have given him the most solid foundation we could. There will be grace, lots of grace for both of us because we are bound to make mistakes. I know it will be an adventure, scary and wonderful, stressful and rewarding but I cannot imagine a greater privilege than to be the mom to this sweet young man. Motherhood is the most amazing joy and the hardest heartbreak all wrapped together in one beautiful package. It comes with so many challenges, but today, I can’t think of one more difficult than learning to let go when all you want to do is hang on tight for a just little longer.