"All that we are is a result of what we have thought."
Two years ago, we were in another state touring a prospective college for A. He was tired of the rain and determined to attend college in the sun. The campus was beautiful, the location fabulous…I was ready to go back to college, just to live there. That day, we knew this would be the location, even though we planned to visit other campuses.
That night, A. and I were in our hotel room, while my husband and daughter were at the store. We were watching TV…conversation didn’t come easily to A. and me anymore…he was pulling away, becoming more independent…a natural process, but hard on my heart.
I remember the next moment so clearly, and I've watched it many times in my mind. A. was sitting on one of the beds, and he suddenly turned to me, body rigid, face tense.
“This is crazy, this is crazy."“What’s crazy?” I asked.
“This is crazy, looking at colleges, everything’s happening so fast. This is crazy. I graduate next year. High school will be over. This is crazy. What if I’m not ready?”
This was a defining moment in time...a life path was splitting, and this moment was the deciding factor regarding which fork it would take. It wasn’t just A’s life path, it was also mine, and my heart was screaming, “Then don’t go to college far away--stay in Oregon where we can see you regularly and still be part of your life!”
Then, through a tunnel, I heard a voice, and I realized that my brain had stepped in where my heart couldn’t.
“It’s a year and a half away, and when the time comes, you will be ready. It’s ok to feel scared about leaving home and the changes that will bring, but you’ll work through those feelings by the time you graduate. You’ll be at a different place than you are right now--you’ll be excited to go and experience the next part of your life.”
We talked for a while, and I remember the look of relief that I saw on A’s face—the fear wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t overwhelming anymore. Instead, our emotional roles had reversed—it took all of my self control to counter the heartache I suddenly felt. I knew he would soon be over a thousand miles away, and throughout the years of raising your child, nothing prepares you for that.
The past eight months have been a journey for all of us. D. and I are adjusting to having just one child at home, M. is adjusting to being an only child for the next few years, and A. has found that the road to independence and adulthood has curves you never see coming. He’s gone through a very rough time in recent months, and I’m incredibly proud of his inner strength and perseverance.
I’ve also learned that there is nothing harder than being separated from your child during a crisis. I can’t be there to hold him when he’s scared or overwhelmed…I can’t be there to fight his battles…to stand up for him…to make sure he stays strong. That isn’t my role anymore, and nothing really prepares you for that either.
My role is to support and trust the amazing man that I helped raise…to know that he has the emotional tools and strength to continue pushing forward and dealing with his life…to know that how he handles tough situations now will be the basis for handling them in the future.
Do I wish that I’d spoken with my heart rather than my mind two years ago? Do I regret not asking him to attend college closer to home? Sometimes…for a moment…when my heart outweighs my mind.
Then I remember clearly…this isn’t my path—it’s his…and his unique journey will shape and strengthen him, just as mine has shaped me.