It took the little boy behind me in seat 15A to realize how totally not ready I am for this.
“Daddy, I’m so not scared. I’m never afraid of anything, no not nothing,” the tyke says as we taxi down the runway.
Just last week, I said,
|My son is #98 in this picture. He had a great senior year. Now, I have to let him fly.|
“Yes, Kip, I’m ready. I know it is time for our son to go to college. This is a good thing, we’re ready. We’ll adjust and he’ll still come home sometimes. Sure, it is time. I’m OK and this is a good thing.”
I’m flying back from Dubuque, Iowa where I was presenting to 750 wonderful educators. Even there, I gave assuring words of how ready I am to move my son into his dorm at Georgia Tech today.
“It is time,” I said confidently, believing it.
As we taxied and took off, the little boys tenor changed.
“Yeeeeeeeeeeh,” he said at first, excited to be airborne.
But then, just as cars became the size of postage stamps, he changed his tune.
“I am scared for this, this one moment, Daddy.” He peeped in a quiet voice.
He said these words and my eyes misted. I’m scared too.
“I am scared for this, this one moment, Daddy,” I prayed.
I turned to the window and wiped the tears as they flowed. I realized that I’m not so ready.
My life has centered around our oldest son for over 18 years. I quit work when he was a year old. I was pregnant with his sister. I was a stay at home Mom / entrepreneur till he was in 2nd grade.
I wanted to live my life with no regrets. The moment I saw his sweet face and blue eyes – this boy wasn’t born crying. He was born living and looking into my soul from day one. I saw his eyes and fell in love. He eventually cried – when he realized he was cold and probably hungry. He’s always been hungry.
My days have been centered upon making sure he is fed (along with my other 2) and in being the best Mom I could be.
I really just wanted to be a Mom. More than anything else. Just a Mom. A Mom who’d give up anything for her babies. No price was too much. High paying job – Poof – who cares – my babies need me at home. We want you to teach – poof – I’m a teacher – all to be closer to my babies.
Like the postage stamp cars, I now feel myself ascending – going further away from this tyke become a man. His brown mopped head ascended far beyond mine several years back – he’s a whole head taller than me – at 6’6″ he is taller than most.
Yet, as I looked out my window hiding my tears from strangers, I didn’t see tall linebacker- I saw my little boy in the red onesie with the sailboat on the front. We used to play this game – I made lesson plans for my kids to cover all areas–
The science game was called “Sink or Float.” I gathered up a lot of items and had a bucket of water. He would put the item in the water and see if it would sink or float. He did it to everything in the whole house.
Now, he’s the one going in the water. The waters of college. Will he sink or float?
He doesn’t have on the red sailboat onesie any more. He has on his favorite grey GT hat – the one that makes his hair look just right when he takes it off. He has on his jeans, hung a little low for me, but they cover everything. His yellow GT shirt with Buzz, the mascot, on the front. He’s dressed the part, that is for sure.
I remember him running around and his sister on my hip. All those years. It was yesterday. Last night I was up with his colicky sister. I remember being in church and able to count on two hands the hours I’d slept since last Sunday. I swear that was last night? Somehow it was 17 years a go. How does that happen?
When he was two, I desperately read books to help me figure out how to help him sleep. I also remember the “wise” girl with one child – younger than my son- who gave me all this advice about how to help my son sleep. She had one – I had two. Her child slept. Mine didn’t. She thought it was something she did – sad, clueless girl. My son is 18 – he still doesn’t sleep. I smile and laugh realizing that I might have known more than I thought even though I would have done anything to sleep – even listen to an over-proud Mom who cluelessly thought she had anything to do with the fact her child slept.
Yet now, I hurtle towards Atlanta Georgia ready to get a taxi to go downtown. It is time to move him in. It is, quite honestly, time to let go.
“I am scared for this, this one moment, Daddy,” I whisper again as my jaw and back of my throat feel the strain of suppressed crying.
Yet, my son is not scared. He’s picking up his bucket and he’s jumping in. He’s more ready than me, I’m not. I’m still just a Mama. It is all I really want to be. A Mama with one less at home but room in my heart for friends and a new family that one day I’ll meet who will bear his name.
I will fly on knowing I gave all I had to this young man. And what he needs most now from me is my belief, support, encouragement, and love. He needs me to let him go. He needs me to let him fly.
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