I have six weeks to let go of my child. It’s not quite as dramatic as that sounds, but in my little corner of the world, it kinda is. You see, my first son will be off to college then, and the thought has put me in a melancholy kinda mood as I write this. In fact, it’s been a whole melancholy kinda summer for me if I were to tell the truth. Not melancholy in a bad way exactly just… melancholy, reflective, heavy, but again, not in a bad way, just in a I-can’t-put-it-into-words-no-matter-how-hard-I-try kinda way.
I think the thought of what it really meant to let go of my child started about a month ago…
What Made Me Realize I Must Let God of My Child
Any working parent knows how difficult it is to get ready for work and get the kids out the door to school on time. As a single mom of five boys, I cannot tell you what insanity runs through our home some mornings!
“Mom, where’s my sock?”
“Mom, do you have my uniform?
(Back to back games and sweaty, stinky boys – not a good combination!)
“Why don’t you ever buy any good cereals?”
(Ummm…maybe one of the 10 boxes I bought was good until they went stale after you opened every one because you “just wanted to see!” It’s not like you haven’t tasted Apple Jacks before!)
Yep, getting five boys out of the house is more than a challenge and may cause one to think I’d be happy to let go of my child. In fact, getting five boys out of the house in the morning is an Olympic feat, and I have to be incredibly thankful for my Mom who comes over most mornings to watch Kaleb so he can sleep a bit later and I can just deal with four whiny, sleepy, cranky, school-loving <sarcasm> boys.
My drive to work takes me past a park about a block from the boys’ school (The older four go to a combined middle-high school) so to save the boys from waking up early to take a 45 minute bus ride when we live five minutes from the school, I drive them. That block away is about where the car pool line really backs up so, if I’m early (which is NEVER!) I drive them all the way up to the school. When I’m not early (See the previous note) I drop them off at the park and they walk the last block.
I’ve had so many people from our small town laugh.
“I saw your boys getting out of the car this morning.”
“Every morning we see them and say, ‘There go the Smith Boys!'”
“Your boys look so cute walking to school together!” (They love that one!)
What people don’t see is the chaos that goes on inside the car.
“Get off of my backpack!”
“Has anyone seen my lunch?!?”
“QUIET I have to finish my homework!” (Can you see my head swivel around to glare at this child and then realize he’s 17, and I should just let it go…)
“Somebody open the car door!” (Our minivan was in such bad shape, the car doors didn’t even open from the inside. It was kind of a family joke (when they weren’t rushing to get to school and feeling the pressure of a backed up car pool line), but I worried about what might happen if…let’s not go there and just be grateful we got a new (used) car last week – a story for another post one day).
In a rush, the boys pile out, sometimes taking an assortment of who knows what with them. One time they knocked bottles I was taking to recycling out of the car. Noah threw them back in before quickly running off. I got to my Catholic school teaching job and looked down at the passenger’s seat floor now covered in Schlitz beer cans. I’m not a big drinker and don’t think I’ve ever had a Schlitz. Noah must’ve thrown in somebody else’s recycling and I hadn’t even noticed in the insanity of drop off.
Yes, getting the boys out to school in the mornings is crazy time, but it’s also a time we have some of our funniest moments, stories (like the Schlitz beer story) that get funnier every time we tell it (and a bit more exaggerated – maybe the floor wasn’t quite covered in beer cans, but it seemed like it when I had to explain it to the other algebra teacher!)
This was Troy’s senior year, and as the school year went on, I became obsessed with trying to hold onto every moment. I did not want to let my child go, but the reality that my 17 year old would be going off to college soon and that these moments wouldn’t last forever was beginning to sink in. That letting go of him not doing his homework was the least of what I’d need to be letting go of. I tried to hold on to silly moments by doing things like snapping pictures of them walking to school together (Even if they didn’t want to admit it, they really were so cute together!)
Little things passed too quickly. Like for example, I missed the significance of how letting my child go tied to the last day of regular classes.
The boys still had exams, but this was the last day of classes, which meant it was the last day all four would ever walk to school together. I’d never get that picture of the four of them, backpacks hanging over their shoulders, laughing, pushing, teasing as they walked up the winding path, past the swings where I’d spent hours, past the gazebo where they had won sportsmanship awards for the local fishing contests, past the wooden towers and slides and monkey bars where they had shot unseen enemies and protected their land and their families, where they had become heroes if only in their own minds (and in mine too). They’d never walk beside that gurgling little stream we loved but tended to take for granted again in the same way.
With about two months until Troy left for college, this thought began my melancholy, my season of lasts. Next year, I’d drop off only three of the boys. Troy, for all his forgetfulness (homework was not the only thing he’d forget!), was graduating.
I can laugh at Troy’s forgetfulness because he has matured and come a long way and really is the most amazing
kid young man. He (and Matt) were the ones to dig the hole when the guinea pig (RIP Firefighter, you smelly, but loved, little critter) died (A story only a mom of boys would have). He was the one to tell me to read the Book of Job when his father left. He was the one who took over a man’s job, hauling in firewood, fixing things that were broken, setting up the tent on family camping trips, leaving the toilet seat up just to spite me.
Troy is truly an amazing young man. This year he took AP European History, AP Calculus, and AP Physics. He (and Matt) played for team that won the state championship in soccer (The women’s soccer win was nothing compared to this! 😉 ) He played varsity baseball, and he turned 18 as a Life Scout. Wish he had made Eagle, but other circumstances intervened and his drive was just not there anyway. Like so many things this year, I’ve had to just let that go…
Troy received some nice academic scholarships and will be going to college to pursue chemical engineering. I guess the fact that he did some of his homework on those crazy five minute car rides is something I shouldn’t even mention. I should just let it go…
But how do I let it go? How do I let him go? I know the others will soon follow, each with his own special skills, talents, triggers, and laughter, each with his own special place in my heart. Each will take a piece of me with him. How do I let my child go? How do I let any of them go?
As a single mom, I am particularly stuck with the knowledge that this is the last time my family will ever be intact this way again. From now on things will be different, things will change. We will never be the mom and five boys in the grocery store, at the movies, on our family vacations as Troy and Matt have decided to stay home to work as lifeguards this year.
Everything is changing. It’s all good. I am proud of him. I am happy for him. I adore and love him more than he will ever know.
And now it is time for me to just let him go…
With six weeks to go, this is our summer of lasts, and then I’ve got to just let him go…