I keep getting the question “How’re you doing?” with a tone of concern and look of compassion from all my mama friends. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fairly open book on social media and everyone knows I have been cautiously anticipating the pomp and circumstance of my Kyler’s graduation. I keep giving the same, “I think I’m doing okay” answer, which is vague but not intentionally so.
The truth is I think I’m doing okay. I keep waiting for a moment that feels equal emotionally to the significance of completing a task such as raising a human being, but so far they all just feel like moments I’ve had before. Watching him walk into the living room in his cap and gown felt very much like seeing him a tuxedo for the first time. Startling to see him looking so grown; proud of his handsome composure; happy and wistful mixed together.
Seeing him open gifts from proud grandparents felt similar to his milestone birthday’s over the past couple years. Watching him receive his diploma reminded me of many award ceremonies attended throughout his school years. Even the hoopla in the courtyard of the Grand Ol’ Opry after graduation ended had flavors of the last day of Governor’s school or summer camp, when he would rush around to say his goodbyes to new and old friends.
If my life with my children is a book we’re writing, it seems all the chapters before have prepared me to walk into this one. I expected all this letting go to feel so unfamiliar and strange, but I’ve been doing it for 18 years it turns out. Small steps like walking him into school for his first day of kindergarten and saying goodbye to him for a month of Governor’s school were laying a path out for me to find. There is no question that the path keeps stretching me out farther than I always want it to. Sometimes I long to pick a spot several years back and revisit our relationship from that chapter in our story. I loved so many moments along the way and It is difficult to accept that each chapter has to close. But even this feeling of longing to go backward is familiar. I have survived it many times. When he began to outgrow his sugary sweet baby days I could not imagine anything ever delighting me quite that way again- but I soon learned a newly talking two year old can do just that.
So as my thoughts lead me down a path of grief- fearing nothing will ever feel as complete as having all my chicks in the nest under my roof, I look back at the path of letting go and embracing the new chapter, and I find comfort. I trust that this is all as it should be; son pulling away, parent watching and resisting the urge to pull them back.