My oldest son is graduating from high school Wednesday. As I scan my Facebook and Instagram feeds I am seeing dozens of faces of his classmates and my friends’ children as they take next steps. So many people comment that it went so fast. They say that they blinked and suddenly there is an adult standing before them. But it doesn’t feel that way to me. Though I can still feel the fleshy pillow of his hand, it seems a lifetime ago since I walked him into pre-school with his security blanket tucked discretely into his bag.
In a way, we have grown up together. I was a woman when I had him, thirty-one, but he made me an adult. It occurred to me the other day, that for the most part, I did what I set out to do. He is kind and he is curious. He is funny and he can laugh at himself. He is tolerant and he is not afraid to take risks. He is a horrible slob and an incorrigible procrastinator, but I fear he gets those things from me so I cannot complain.
He was an old soul when he came to me, and subsequently, easy to raise. I have ferried him to the threshold of adulthood; the joys and challenges and responsibilities of his life will take him the rest of the way there and I will no longer have a leading role, but will instead be a supporting player.
My middle son is not taking the idea of his brother going away to college very well. He does not like to talk about it, and when we do I smile and tell him how excited I am that his brother will have the opportunity to see the world in a new way. It is thrilling. “Aren’t you going to miss him?” he asks me. Of course I am going to miss him. But I feel so fortunate to have had him with me nearly every day for his whole life until now. If he stayed with me, I would not have done my job very well. Besides, as he goes into the world, just as he carried that blanket into school, he will carry a piece of my heart inside of him wherever he goes. I hope he takes it far.