My oldest son is traveling this week. Tomorrow morning, he will board a plane that I am not on and travel to a city that I am not in. This is difficult for me. I would love to say that something happened the moment I became a mom. I would love to write about destiny and bliss. But that was not my story. I loved my child, but I struggled. Instead of bliss, I birthed fear with my firstborn. The moment he was out of my body, I began this tiresome relationship with anxiety. I devoted myself to keeping him safe. In those early sleepless nights, I would sit and hold him with one hand firmly on his back. And for the eighteen years that have followed, I have kept that hand in place. Of course there have been moments where I have been forced to remove the hand, summer camp, sleepovers, the moment he got his driver’s license. But those were short moments and they happened so close to home.
There has been a shift. I have felt the slow creep of change moving into my world like the determined flow of lava from a volcano. I have a nest, and my birds are trying to leave it. My son is completely self-assured and ready for the adventures that await. He doesn’t need my protection anymore and he rarely needs my advice. I can see him fluffing his wings willing them to action. He is standing on the edge of the nest and I am practically sitting on my hands trying not to grab his skinny little bird legs and pull him back in. I know what is right. That is why I am walking around my house in a nonchalant way saying things like, “Have a great trip, and enjoy your flight!” On the inside, I’m thinking, “Are you flying on the airline that drags people off and puts puppies in the overhead bins?” “I hope there aren’t any shady people on your flight! Stay with your group, Don’t talk to strangers, call me when you land, no…call me before you take-off, no…call me on the flight. Wait, can you do that? What if we just face-timed until Thursday night?” But tonight he walked breezily past my room and said, “Hey mom, this is like a precursor to college!” Thanks for the punch in the face, kid!
Here’s the thing I can also see coming. The other birds in the nest are watching him. They see his eyes all wide and thirsty for adventure. And I know that every couple of years until my nest is empty, I’m going to watch another bird jump. Ugh. The new days of motherhood were tough. But at least I held a false sense of control. I’m not sure how to navigate these new waters of independence.
So, parents that have been there, done that, please give me something. Help me find my calm and cool so I don’t look like a crazed lunatic. And don’t tell me not to ask if I can room with him at college. I’ve already asked, and he has already said no. I know we aren’t supposed to duct tape our birds in the nest like hostage takers, but seriously, is it always going to feel this sucky? And moms of babies, if you wake up in the night and happen to see this, I’m sorry that you are not getting sleep. That is rough and I remember those days. (side note: I hid bags of chips ahoy cookies near the couch to eat while I was nursing. I’ve always been motivated by sugar!”) But as you hold your babies in the night and you have your soft, loving hands on their backs, just say a little prayer of thanksgiving that your baby isn’t boarding a flight to the east coast tomorrow.
Ok, that’s all…I’m going to try to sleep before I have to stalk my son via “find my iPhone” all day tomorrow. Does that feature work when they are on a plane? Nevermind…that question makes me sound crazy, but seriously, text me if you know the answer. 🙂