Unfortunately, as our children grow towards adulthood, life starts handing them more complex challenges. Gone are the days of kindergarten-fixes which were mostly comprised of a few snuggles and a chocolate chip cookie.
It isn’t all bad.
The best part is watching our children’s personalities solidify into more of who-they-are. They get to start defining more what matters to them.
Weirdly, that doesn’t always align with what mom and dad deem important.
As I continue to let my boys go off into the world to discover what is most true for them, I must go and do the same for myself.
Mothers and caregivers tend to take a giant pause in their life when it comes to raising a family. This pause becomes so second-nature, we often don’t realize when it’s time to hit the reset button.
We are not meant to figure everything out in one day.
In fact, I believe we never figure everything out completely.
Life moves forward for a reason. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t.
Either way it’s moving.
We can either join in or sit back. Maybe both?
Even if we don’t make every right turn, the fact that we are on the journey is bound to lead us somewhere wonderful.
Especially if where we’ve been has already shown us such great love.
This summer has me so overwhelmed with change that I feel like part of me has shut down to cope. I am operating more in logic and less in feeling.
The feelings will have to come later.
Before we knew we were moving to a new state, we signed Full Speed up for a three-week academic class held on a college campus. Even then, while I was thrilled for him to have this unique opportunity, I was not particularly happy about him being away for three weeks. Throw some travel and our family changing addresses into the mix and I am surprised I am still standing.
The most unsettling part of this process with Full Speed was how extremely collegiate it all felt. We had to make sure he had linens and towels. He also needed shower shoes and a caddy for supplies to be used in the dorm showers.
Once we arrived at his dorm, it continued to take on a surreal quality. A feeling of yes, he is only thirteen, and yes, he will return home, but also a feeling of what our future without Full Speed may look like.
It’s not great, folks. Not great at all.
The positive is we obviously love our kid and should be grateful that we are missing him.
It would be rather telling if we broke out the bubbly and celebrated his departure with a joyful clink of glasses. There was no toasting. Only a sinking sensation that Full Speed is well on his way to carving out his own life.
I cannot tell you the willpower it took to not cry when we left him at his dorm. I held it together. I don’t know how, but I did.
My goal is to stay focused on the present moment and be mindful of what will feel supportive to him in terms of how much I communicate with him.
Unfortunately, him live-streaming his day to my phone is not an option.
Weird, I know.
Instead, I sense he is consumed by new routines, meeting new people and mastering the intensive curriculum ahead.
Texting his mom should not be a priority.
I get it.
I don’t have to like it, but I get it.
I have always known that my children have never really been mine. The most ‘ownership’ I can claim over them has maybe been the nine months I carried them. Once they arrived in the world it has been my one of my greatest honors to walk along beside them as I do my best to let them go.
Now, more so than ever before, it is time for Full Speed to walk ahead alone.
I love you, Full Speed. I am so proud to be your mom.
May this opportunity open your eyes to the infinite possibilities of life.
And remember, I am only a phone call away.
You’ve got this.
For the record, I can neither confirm or deny if T.Puzzle is missing Full Speed.
Ok, I lied.
I can confirm he totally does though he would never say it out loud.
And, I thank my lucky stars to have this one-on-one time with him.
First, before you delve into the wondrous writing I have created below, I want to share my intention to write a post a week for Writes for All Mommies. I’m a little scared in all honesty, because now that I’ve written this intention and you’ve read the words, I actually have to do it. So, welcome to WFAM Wednesdays! I’m grateful you are here. You rock!
Let the posting commence:
There are many points of light on the horizon of raising children which flit across your awareness and then are gone forever. The first smile, those first steps, learning how to read, ride a bike…etc., etc. It all goes by too fast and makes my heart ache with nostalgia. However, once you are a grown-up, those sweet mile-stoney moments are all but extinct. Somehow my first mammogram didn’t seem quite so awesome as all the cool things little humans have to master as they journey towards adulthood. Truth be told, I thought most of my notable moments were behind me.
But then it happened. By some strange sequence of events and circumstances, something unexpected occurred.
I got carded!
Yes, that’s right.
A forty-three year old mom got carded at the grocery store!
I was so flummoxed when the cashier asked for my I.D., I started to act all weird and suspicious. To be fair, I was in work-out gear (apparently working it!), had a baseball cap on (Go Cubs!) and the bespectacled cashier never really looked directly at my face.
But hey! I’ll take it.
This felt so momentous because I am fairly certain this is the last time I will ever be carded in my lifetime. How’s that for a milestone? The first-last time you get carded. It’s a thing now. Well, a thing I made up but still. It’s a thing.
Later, when I was cheerfully sharing my wonder over being carded with the boys, I was quickly brought back to reality.
Full Speed: “So when someone cards you it means they think you aren’t twenty-one?!? The cashier really thought that????” (Poor guy looked so confused.)
T.Puzzle: “Bahahaha…..!” (Basically he laughed to infinity as he rolled around in disbelief. In fact, if you ran into him today, he’s probably still laughing. So glad to be the light of humor in your life, Son. I mean that. Really.)
So, I was quickly put back in my place and humbled (horrified?).
Thankfully, this old girl loves her life and her disbelieving chuckle-y boys.
I had the honor of chaperoning Full Speed and some classmates for their sixth grade trip to Sea World. Thankfully, Mad Dog was able to attend. Trust me, if he can manage a myriad of employees at work, seven twelve-year-old boys were a piece of cake. It helped that they were all well-behaved, too.
As the day drew to a close, Mad Dog escorted our gang back to the bus home and Full Speed stayed with me. We decided to hit one more ride before meeting up with Mad Dog at the exit and driving home separately from the class (all sanctioned by Full Speed’s teacher of course). Of all the things he could pick, Full Speed chose the flamingo-shaped paddle boats. I wasn’t entirely sure this is what he truly wanted, but he’s a smart kid who takes after his Dad. Sometimes you pick the stuff that you only kind of like because you know the important lady in your life would LOVE it. And I did. I really, really did.
After I had paid the fee for our twenty minutes, we fitted ourselves with life jackets and headed to the dock. The attendant quickly went over instructions. He said something to the effect of ‘go left to go left, go right to go right’. He was referencing the way to manipulate the steering apparatus that was centered between our seats. I followed his directions and we were off to the races….but, not really. The harder we pedaled and the more I tried to maneuver us away from the dock, the more we stayed put. Eventually, I was able to get us crookedly angled away as long as we pedaled BACKWARDS. Let’s just say, I shouldn’t quit my day job.
As we slowly and awkwardly floated out to sea, I casually said, “Full Speed, why don’t you try steering?”
He grabbed the control and in less than 30 seconds had us on a straight path. He steered the paddle boat as if he had been doing it his whole life. Turns out, you didn’t ‘go left to go left’. Instead, you actually had to do the opposite. Since I wasn’t particularly prideful about my gaping inefficiencies as a paddle boat captain, I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Apparently, knowing how to actually steer properly makes everything a whole lot more smooth.
As we floated about, I had this out-of-body moment. It was almost as if I was looking at Full Speed as how he could possibly be as a grown man. Not surprisingly, he appeared a lot like Mad Dog.
I thought back to when I was twelve. At that point in my life some fundamental aspects of my personality were formed. My sensitivity, my empathy, and my creativity are all still a part of the grown-up version of me. As I looked at Full Speed calmly navigating the waters before us, I thought if he has even half this amount of ease and confidence as a grown-up, he is going to do just fine.
The inevitable summer bedtime negotiation had begun. T.Puzzle and Full Speed aimed high, Mad Dog and I aimed low. T.Puzzle wondered out loud, “Why do grown-ups get to stay up later than kids?” We explained as best we could, that adults are done growing so they don’t need as much sleep. Kids’ bodies are still changing and growing every day and need the extra sleep to help in this process. He seemed mollified. Then, he started to imagine what his bedtime would be in the future. Full Speed started shouting out ages and as these ages increased, the bedtimes rose exponentially. “When I’m ten I’ll stay up until 9. When I’m 12 I’ll stay up until 10″… and so on and so on. When he reached the number 18 we told him that at that time, if he didn’t live at home anymore, he could stay up as late as he wanted. That’s the great thing about being a grown-up, we explained. You can stay up as late as you want.
I asked T.Puzzle, “How late are you going to stay up when you’re 24?”
“Well,…I’m going to still live at home. I’m always going to live at home,” he said.
Full Speed, not missing a beat, said, “I guess we better get some bigger beds.”