by Danetta Kellar
Kids leaving home is the topic of discussion at the coffee shop this afternoon.
A group of friends is settled comfortably into leather couches, chattering about the zeal with which their college students do laundry as soon as they arrive home on the weekend.
“I don’t even have to touch the laundry! They don’t say hello when they arrive- their laundry is sorted into piles of darks and lights on their beds and they are tackling the job first thing!”
“I taught mine well. They learned to do their laundry while they were still at home. I prepared them to leave! No way did they want to mix colors in the wash and have pink underwear at college!” another chimes in.
One lady, who has been quieter than the others, softly says, “I have to drive four hours to have dinner with him.”
Another pipes up, “Well at least it’s not Connecticut.”
The Quiet One curls her hands around her mug of steaming latte and intensely studies the rip in her jeans.
I am sitting apart, not one of this group. I am a stranger, but their conversation is striking me in a tender and highly personal place today.
I will be one of them in just a few months. Will he remember how to do his laundry properly, separating the darks and lights like I taught him? Will he want to come home on free weekends, or will he choose to be with friends instead?
Oh no! Time is almost out! HAVE I TAUGHT HIM ENOUGH? DID I COVER EVERYTHING? WILL HE BE OKAY?
…will I be okay?
Images of his tiny toes kicking in the air as I changed his diaper parade across my memory. His squeals of delight as he discovered his first crested chameleon in North Africa peal through my mind.
I see my wild man racing madly around the courtyard on roller blades while we cheer. I watch my big boy running with all his might down the cobblestoned hill of the old city as I pray silently that when he falls, he will not land head first.
I feel the mix of annoyance and pride as I discover that frustrating, amazing inventor who turned my dining room table into an engineer’s shop, scattered with bits of wire, tools, super glue, tape, and wood. The boy who decided to trim his bushy eyebrows only to need to steal my eyebrow liner to draw them back in.
That young man.
He is ready to leave, but I am not ready to let him go.
Mothers must suffer this quiet, screaming pain as their goals are realized; the ones they nurtured grow up. All my other feats seem so small next to that exquisite responsibility of raising a boy to become a man, tenderly holding on and knowing when to bravely let go.
He is ready to fly. I will not stand landlocked, holding his wings down. I will open my palm, and I will cheer him on.
Fly! Fly, my wonderful, amazing Gift-Boy! I will be here when you come home.
Lord, please do not let me stand in the way of this great work you are doing in my child. I see it and I see You in it. But hold the broken pieces of my heart as I watch him go. Amen.
How have you managed to let go, dear reader?