I have been going along this journey of parenting for 13 years now. Building a close and trusting relationship with both my boys so that they would have deep roots from which to fly. And then the saying “be careful what you wish for” pops into my mind as my oldest son took a hold of those wings and went on a solo adventure a whole state away from me for nine days.  I am beyond proud of the courage it took for him to get in the car and drive away. I am drop to my knees grateful for having built into his life the sorts of relationships that leave me knowing he is being cared for in the very same way he would if he was here, while he is away.

And as this entire journey has shown me the hardest part was me doing my own work away from him. My oldest son wants to process a lot when he is making a big decision. His whole life he has needed a little extra in the moment nudging that we have worked to find a balance with. We have a saying in our family called “skates on the ice.” It goes back to his hockey career that took an incredible amount of courage every single time we were at the rink. When the feelings where super overwhelming I would always say “just put your skates on the ice and if it still feels like too much you can come right off.” He never came  off but knowing he could gave him the extra boost he needed to take the leap. This was the first nudging I wasn’t sure I could do. Because he couldn’t just get out of the car and head back home. Yes if it was not going well all parties involved would do everything we could to get him back home but it would not have the same immediacy of “skates on the ice.” So this time we were having different conversations to find his new edges and  uncover the best  way for me to support him.

My oldest also likes to consider my opinion in most of his decisions. This is where I was having to do a lot of my own work. Because when those big blue eyes looked into mine and asked “do you think I should go” in all honesty I wanted to stand up and scream “no hell no do not leave me this is too soon what if you hurt yourself what if you need me and I am not there.”  The day after my son was born I had a nightmare where he was kidnapped. In the dream the biggest thing that was making me desperate was knowing he would be crying for me and that I wouldn’t be showing up. It was a new feeling and one I have carried with me throughout his entire childhood. This was playing loudly in the background of all of these conversations. Again, our close connection has lead him to want to know some of what is going on inside of me. It was the art of word choice and clarity of mind that I wanted to share with him. I wanted his process to be his and not clouded with my shit. When the words were finally ready I said “I want you to go out into the world and have as many adventures as you can. I also love spending time with you and will miss you like crazy. There is only one person in this world that can know if you are ready for this.”

Our conversations went on like this up until the Friday before he was set to leave and then he said “Okay can we stop talking about this now.” I did my best not to bring it up. His friends arrived and I watched as he shifted to asking more questions about what they would be doing while he was visiting. I felt him pull just a little tiny bit away from me. And it was in that moment without any words that I knew he was preparing all the courage he had ever stored up to do what he had said all along would be the hardest part, say goodbye to me and get in the car and drive away.

I was left holding the most mixed bag of emotions I have had to work my way through on this wild and crazy ride as his mama. This journey of parenting is an art of letting go, of grieving while simultaneously celebrating of trusting without a net beneath you that all the love and connection will remain in tact no matter the miles between you. And based on the text messages, the SnapChats and the FaceTimes I know without a doubt he is out there in the world wings wide open having an amazing time while still deeply rooted in the love of his family.