From Suzy, a Grown and Flown friend: My first child celebrated his high school graduation last weekend. It’s all good – he’s ready. He’s heading off to the college of his choice and is excited to broaden his world beyond the school community where he has spent thirteen years. As I look ahead to September, so many thoughts and emotions bubble to the surface.
I imagine what he will take with him and what he will leave behind. I imagine his dorm room and (still faceless) roommates, the way they will live together. I wonder if he will keep his room neater than he does at home. I imagine how he will come home and be thrilled to sleep in his bed again in his newly cleaned room. I pray that he will be happy. I have thought about all of these things except the space it will leave in my life.
My sons’ father and I split up when the boys were young, and my older son, then in second grade, without any urging from me, assumed the role of “man of the house.” This was not necessarily a good thing – sometimes he threw his weight around too much. It took some effort to make him understand that the seat at the head of the table was not, by all rights, his.
Yet as I look back, I am struck by the many ways in which he, in assuming that role, took care of me. The note he wrote me on the anniversary of my father’s death. The meaning-filled gifts he has given me. The times he told me to sit down and relax. The ways in which he has helped protect family time. As he grew into a man, he has carried the heavy stuff, reached to get the boxes stored up high, taken responsibility for so much. The kid in him whines sometimes and pushes his younger brother to share the load, but at the core, he takes pride in being there for me.
My younger son and I have a quieter partnership, fewer ripples. The house is still when it’s just the two of us, and more peaceful. My older son walks loudly and consumes more emotional space. But I know that in that large and dominating personality is a deep loyalty and commitment to me.
Now that we have now finished with all of the high school graduation festivities, I think of his next move to college. He will need to let go of me as much as I will be letting go of him. I promise him, I’ll be just fine.