That’s the number of school days left of my son’s senior year. So many things have already come to an end and so many lasts are still to come. The last first day, the last home game, senior night, and the last school pictures have come and gone. Now the calendar is quickly filling up with spring sports, prom, gala, and a plethora of senior activities. I am quickly beginning to realize that this is it. This is really the last days of life as we know it in the Sullivan household.
When I mention how sad it makes me, I am met with resistance. Perhaps people are just trying to make me feel better or maybe they just don’t get it. They tell me how exciting it is, how proud I should be, and how “He’ll be fine.”
Yes, I’m super excited for all the many things the future holds for him. Yes, I am bursting with pride for this human I have raised. Yes, I’m fairly sure he will be fine. But, regardless of how excited, proud or confident I am in him, it’s tough. It’s tough to think that in a couple of months we will be preparing for him to go off to another city. He’ll pack up a ton of stuff and we’ll move him into a place that he’ll call home for the majority of the year.
Maybe there are moms who can just be excited, proud and confident and I applaud you. This mom is all those things with a lot of anxiety and distress mixed in. When I think of him climbing into a different bed in a different room in a building that isn’t our home, I get a knot in the pit of my stomach. When I think of the nights that he won’t be home to say, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I can feel the tears well up in my eyes.
And, even though it will be nice not to have a packed schedule on a daily basis, I will miss the ballgames and tennis matches when they roll around next year and I no longer have a kid on the team. When I think of no longer listening to be sure he’s up in the morning or not needing to wait for him to get home when he’s been out at night, I want to sit down and sob.
My life for the last 17 years has revolved around this kid, this child of mine that I hoped and prayed for. Every decision I have made since his birth has in some way been based on how it might impact him. All plans and events have revolved around him. Meals and outings have been planned according to his likes or dislikes. He has been the ruler of all things and right or wrong, that’s how it has been. He has been my world and my world will soon leave me behind and regardless of what anyone says or does or thinks, my heart is breaking.
Yes, like millions of mothers before me and millions more to come, I’ll survive. I’ll learn to be satisfied with quick texts and an occasional phone call. I’ll become accustomed to being the last to know anything and the first to know nothing. I’ll go from being a mom in a small town where there are no secrets to a mom of a college kid with no connections. I’ll get used to getting up in the morning with no one to listen for and going to bed with no need to wait up, but, while I am adapting to my new normal, I will long for the next holiday that will bring my baby home.
I will live for spontaneous trips home no matter how much laundry comes with it. I will cook his favorite foods and cancel plans just to sit at the table and watch him eat. I will do his laundry and fold it neatly knowing that it will not make it back to his dorm room in the same condition. I’ll pack him a sandwich that he probably won’t eat and snacks that he most likely won’t want but I’ll do it anyway. While he is with me, once again my world will revolve around him and when he leaves, I will wish that time could stand still.
So, I will savor every moment of these last 39 days. I will watch him play his last games and matches. I will encourage him as he finishes up his final classes. I will support him as he makes the last-minute decisions about college. I’ll prepare his clothes for the special events. I’ll take tons of pictures of him and his friends during what they will someday look back on as some of the best times of their lives.
I will soak it in and sop it up and then when I am missing him the most, I’ll take out the pictures and smile because even if the tears continue to fall, I will be excited and I will be proud and most of all, I’ll know that I have done everything in my power to make sure that he is fine.
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Lora Mae Sullivan lives a quiet life in a small town in Kentucky. She lives with her husband of 26 years, Danny, and her 17-year-old son, Daniel. She works as an instructional assistant in her local high school’s special education department. Lora Mae loves to travel, read, and work with missions through her church.