Children get older and I’m getting older too…
I haven’t been writing much lately. Perhaps everything around me has been so emotionally draining that I couldn’t find a way to put paper to pen or fingers to keyboard whatever your medium might be.
I took my oldest to college about three weeks ago. I don’t know how to properly put words to the emotions I felt. In one instant I was proud, shattered, clinging to the past, in awe of the future, sobbing uncontrollably and smiling with joy. My body literally physically ached as I pulled away to head to the airport.
I cried uncontrollably the entire one hour drive to Logan International Airport. I managed to pull it together as I drove into Avis to return my rental. I got out of the car, handed my paperwork to the poor sap who pulled the short straw and had to deal with me. As soon as I tried to speak I started crying again. And by cry I mean SOB. They could not get me checked out fast enough. Those tough Boston men had no idea how to deal with a sobber. I’m convinced that if I had returned the car with a dent the size of Montana they would have cleared it.
I cried the entire bus ride to the airport. Adults looked away, children stared. I was horrified, but I couldn’t make it stop. I was crying so hard by the time I walked up to security that I had to step out of line and gather myself. I was able to pull it together enough so that I was just teary and sniffly and made my way through the line, then I sprinted for the bathroom and sobbed some more. The people in the Boston Logan airport that day are scarred for life. Truly. SCARRED.
It was the weirdest thing to not be able to stop crying. I’m not a crier. I can count on my hands the number of times I have cried in the last five years. One look at my face in the bathroom mirror as I once again tried to pull myself together was a good reminder to cry only in private. I stared at my red faced snot ridden reflection and reminded myself that he was ready. He was so happy. He was beaming with joy as we moved him in. His good friend was his roommate. He is a good student, he makes mostly good decisions, he’s playing lacrosse in college. He is going to be fine. SO WHY AM I CRYING?
And then it hit me. THAT is why I was crying. He is going to be fine. Without me. He is now his own. He is no longer mine. And that is one of the most painful realizations I have ever had to come to terms with. I have loved, cared for, coddled, cried with, comforted, supported, nursed, rocked, stood up for and been devoted to that sweet little boy for 18 years. It defined the biggest part of who I am. And now I had to let him go. And I wasn’t doing it gracefully. At. All. I didn’t want to let him go. I wanted to start over. I wanted to do it all again. And again. And again.
I sat in the airport for hours thinking, crying, pulling myself together. People walked by and would give me a curious glance wondering what terrible thing I was having to deal with. And slowly, as the hours passed I came to terms with the fact that it wasn’t terrible. It was a gift. I should be celebrating this time, not kicking and screaming and sobbing at the unjustness of it.
As I boarded the plane my tears began to slowly subside. First the front wheels lifted and then the back and I said goodbye to my sweet boy and the life we’d had together for 18 years. With each passing hour of the flight I slowly began to embrace the new life we would have together. I started to look forward to Thanksgiving break when I would see his sweet and more grown up face light up our home again.
When I finally walked through the front door that night, emotionally exhausted, Noah greeted me with a hug and an I love you. I stood there for as long as possible enjoying it. Surely, much longer than he wanted to be there. But it was giving me strength and I needed it. “You know what,” I thought, “I can do this.”
Then I looked up at Noah’s beautiful face and realized, HELL NO I CAN’T EVER DO THIS AGAIN.
“Guess what sweetie, we are all moving to Maryland with you when you go to college.”
And we are.