A long embrace and a quick murmured, “Love you. Take care of yourself,” and he was gone. My firstborn, who has always marched to his own drumbeat, is moving on with his life. Although I am extremely grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that awaits him in New York City and for the fact that he is not moving out of the country, I allow myself to experience the bittersweet feelings that stir within.
With less than four adrenaline-fueled days to adjust to the idea of him leaving and to tie up loose ends here, I didn’t have time to sit, feel, and acknowledge the rumblings of my heart and brain until now. My brain confirms all the positive aspects of this transition, but my heart stubbornly refuses to let go of that last bit of apron string tied to him. I remind myself that he is following his dream, something that I endlessly supported. But in this mother’s mind, at this moment in time, I can’t help but think that this wonderful opportunity is carrying him far away from home and family. His hard work and perseverance paid off. He held fast to his dream even when his life didn’t go according to plan – when life’s zigs and zags carried him their unpredictable ways. How could I not be happy for him now?
In reality, he’s not lived at home for a while, but he’s always lived in the same state as the rest of the family. As he heads to the opposite coast, I take comfort in the marvel of today’s technology, which will help to appease my motherly worries. I worry about this son of mine because he has a different approach to life than my other children and because things seem to happen to him that don’t happen to the others.
His decision to drive across the country with his girlfriend rather than fly, a decision that baffled many, did not surprise me. I asked him why he wanted to drive for five days and arrive at his new job road-weary and tired. I asked him why he wanted to drive a car that already has 150,000 miles on it and risk it breaking down in the middle of nowhere. I asked him why he was making things so complicated. He told me calmly, “It’s only complicated to you, Mom.” And then he added, “In my line of work, you draw on life’s experiences for ideas.” I understood what he was telling me. It’s my fault, I thought to myself. Throughout the years I reminded my children about “life being a journey and not a destination.” It’s no wonder that they yearn to do more, see more, and experience more.
For three decades my identity has been wrapped up with my children. It’s inevitable that as they transition, so must I. With one child moving away and another getting married in a few months, the focus of my life must shift away from them. It is only natural. My time is coming again. My children’s growth and good fortune affords me the time and energy to fulfill more of my life’s dreams. It is now abundantly clear to me, that my children are not the only ones moving on.