Today, my oldest son graduates from high school. In three weeks, we take him to begin the next chapter of his life as a college student, where he will be a 14 hour drive away from his friends, his girlfriend, and…me.
To say that I am a hot mess of emotions would be a gross understatement.
I was a young mom. Married at 20, Nick was born when I was just 22. Now, I look at him, my baby still, yet practically the same age I was then.
I have spent my entire adult life being his mother, and this transition is a sea change that I find myself utterly unprepared for.
Nick is the first of three little bald men who stole my heart. And, while this isn’t the first time he’s broken it, this will be the first time that a piece leaves with him.
I have spent the last eighteen years kissing boo-boos, cutting valentine sandwiches into heart shapes, chaperoning school field trips, celebrating victories, sharing defeats, and worrying over late-night returns.
I have smiled, laughed, cried, yelled, taught, rejoiced, and many times, just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Now, I find myself looking back and hoping it was all enough. Did I teach him everything he needs to know? Did I encourage him enough? Does he know I didn’t mean the things I said when I was angry? Does he know that he has gotten the best of me, and undoubtedly, the worst of me, and that my actual soul was changed the day he arrived? A mother can only hope.
Looking forward, I have many other hopes as well. I hope he eats right, I hope he doesn’t wash his whites with his darks, and I hope he call me once in a while. I hope he’ll have fun, but not too much. I hope he doesn’t follow in my footsteps, and enter parenthood at 22; instead, experiencing what the world has to offer, and getting to know himself before he’s responsible for someone else.
Most of all, I hope he knows how undeniably proud I am. While I may be a blubbering mess buried beneath a pile of Kleenex, I am so proud of this young man.
Not so much because he has made it to this milestone intact, or even because, as a result of hard work, he has earned a full athletic scholarship. All the awards, and GPAs are nice, and a free education is amazing, but most of all, I am proud of the young man he has become.
He is hardworking, considerate, and well-spoken. He is respectful of women, and quick to help a stranger. He believes in himself, and never lost sight of his dreams, even when those around him told him he wasn’t good enough. Most of all, he is kind. I have seen him stand up for the underdog time and again, and that is something the world can never have too much of.
This column is devoted to books, and today, I am writing about the most impactful one of all: life itself. It has been said that life is a book – each day a page, making up chapters that, in turn, create a story.
Today, we not only turn a page, but close a book. I watch with baited breath as a new cover is opened, a new story begun. A sequel, it will draw heavily off the rich foundation laid in book one, but I’m told the protagonist will begin, perhaps for the first time, to make the story his own. Sources say it will be a wild ride, full of tears and triumphs, and that there will be plenty of surprises to keep the reader guessing.
I am certain I will devour each chapter, eager to see what comes next.