Soft place to land

Today my son comes home from college for the summer! As I write my husband is driving to pick him up from school. They’re going to load up all the stuff we’ve crammed into his little freshman dorm room, and just like that, his freshman year of college is over.

I am so proud of him! This year he has thrived, made a bunch of new friends, had a lot of fun, and balanced a rigorous academic schedule. In some ways, I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by because it also felt like the longest year of my life.

Taking him to his bedroom was the most surreal experience. As I was driving there, I kept going back to the day we drove him home from the hospital after he was born. How nervous we were then as totally clueless new parents, and how nervous we were 18 years later as this baby was ready to fly out of the nest.

And no one prepared me for the tsunami of emotions. Or maybe I wasn’t in a place to fully realize how wild this next rollercoaster would be until it was my turn to take the ride. The sheer joy of watching your child chase his dreams and the utter devastation of letting him do the same thing you were raising him to do, it’s crazy how you can feel those two emotions at the same time. Eighteen years seems like a long time while you’re exhaustingly nursing a baby at 3 in the morning, but really, it’s just the blink of an eye.

A friend often jokingly refers to her children as anchors. And funny enough, I’ve felt a little lost at sea for the past year. I am trying to find my way in this new phase of motherhood.

I feel so far I always know what the next right move is, like a lot of the path is already laid out in front of me. What do you expect when you’re expecting, potty training, school plays, class recitals, reading records and flashcards, sleepovers, dancing, driving, SATs…but when all those steps are behind you? I just felt…unsure. His next move isn’t up to me, it’s up to him.

And if I’m being completely honest, it took me a whole year to find the joy and excitement in that thought, to realize that he was really ready. He no longer needs training wheels. You don’t have to obsessively check Life 360. It has grown up. And while my job title as a mom will always be, my duties have changed. and that is Good thing for him me too.

But mostly, I’m glad it’s a nice place for him to land this summer. 🙂

To all the moms preparing to watch your kids graduate high school, I see you. Don’t hide your tears, you earned them!

Next year, when it’s my girl’s turn to use her wings, well, I might have an actual meltdown watching my latest baby fly. 😉 But for now, I’m going to enjoy having them both in the nest this summer.

* See more of this black and white family photo wall here.

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