It took 9 months to grow the first umbilical cord and 18 years to grow the second one.

I always knew the day was coming, I just wish I’d had more time.  The ceremonious passage that takes place between mother and child, as he grows and moves from home into college; can be downright painful. We are suddenly overwhelmed with images of their birth, those first few precious moments we had to embrace their new lives as they come from our own bodies, from our prayers, and from our hearts.  We spend countless years with their needing us in everything they do from learning to crawl to learning to count.  Their first steps, their first heart-break.  We are mom.  We are necessary.

Through all the years of parenting I always thought … there will be time.  There will be one more bedtime story, one more fifteen minutes of building forts.  One more happy face pancake breakfast to make.  One more late night talk.  He grew, as I watched him doing it; but I always believed I simply had more time.

Then, today, my time ran out.  The drive to college went too fast.  The unpacking; like a blink of an eye.  This couldn’t be it; it can’t be over.  Selfishly, I am crying inside because I realize …. I am no longer necessary.  He will take care of himself from here on out.  His life begins the second I walk away …. in just a few moments from now.

And I wonder, did I raise him well enough?  Did I love him hard enough?  Did I teach him all the lessons I always ached to teach?  Does he know my heart, does he trust himself?  A myriad of questions flood my heart and as I stand before him I task myself to not breaking down.  I tell myself to be strong because this is his moment, not mine.  He deserves a happy mother who is excited about his future, for which I am, but my heart grieves.

He holds me close and we say our goodbye’s with a last, “I love you mom.”  I kiss his cheek and tell him, “Be good, be strong, and I love you.”

Then time stopped.  It was over.  Everything I once knew as his mama was done.   Our tides will now bring a new type of relationship that I will have to learn to navigate and I will pray new prayers and have new hopes and all the while …. he will be out in the world paving his own path.

Driving home, wiping tears, I remember the note I wrote and slipped into his bag last night.  Just something simple to tell him how proud of him I am and my hopes for him as a young man of integrity and honor.  I hope he reads it and believes that I believe in him.   Our relationship will now forever be different.

A dear sweet friend of mine says something to me that strikes me as so true, as we grieve together the same loss, “It took us 9 months to grow the first umbilical cord and 18 years to grow the second.”

I pull into my driveway and sit in my car because I don’t want to go inside the empty house.  My phone blinks a text message.

It’s a photo of my letter to my son, now taped up onto his college dorm desk with a, “I love you too Mom.”

I can’t help but smile because I know, in that moment, I have done well and that college lettermaybe time doesn’t run out … maybe it just shifts in a new direction.

For all the mom’s who have sent their children off to college this year …. it is okay to grieve the change and the loss of what once was but now may we all have the courage and the wisdom to be the new type of mother our children will seek out in the next years ahead.


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