published : 2023-08-22
A Tearful Joy: A Mother's Journey through Raising Her Sons
From Motherhood to Mentorship: The Transition of Letting Go as Her Son Embarks on His Collegiate Journey
I believed I was prepared for the fateful day, the day my firstborn son would start his journey to higher education. I tried to cushion the impending emptiness with a collection of kisses. Our little ritual, started during his senior year, of an extra peck on the forehead or cheek before he dashed off to school or practice, became an attempt to store up these precious interactions for the days to come. On some level, I thought these tokens of love would be enough when he was far away.
My son's readiness to embrace this new chapter gave me hope. Watching the boy you gave life to stand on the precipice of his future, equipped with a wisdom beyond years and a grounding from his roots, offers a strange kind of satisfaction. He was ready.
Despite this readiness, saying goodbye took a toll. His absence was felt immediately, my face drenched in tears, as his dorm room door closed behind us. The pride of his achievement was intertwined with a mother's heartache.
The intense whirlpool of emotions is hard to describe. Excitement for his future, grief for his absence, the joy of his growth, the loss of his daily presence, the pain of missing him, the pride in his ambition, and a surreal peace co-existing with a longing for more time, all converged, making me feel both perfectly fine and completely shattered.
Finding solace in the institution he chose, we saw him officially become an Auburn man, marking his journey with pride and a streak of melancholy. I realized then, it was the mundane, everyday interactions I would miss the most, the banality of his presence that was threaded with love.
The text messages about dinner plans, updates about his day, the relief of seeing his car in the driveway marking his safe return home, the nightly 'I love you mama' as I retired for the night, I would miss them all. This loss coexisted with my anticipation of seeing his upcoming strides in life.
Experience told me that being a mother of five boys, I knew what it meant to 'leave it all on the field.' My life as a mother wasn’t perfect, filled with both fumbles and touchdowns. But the game of parenting, like life, is not about perfection. It's about committing fully, learning from mistakes, making amends, and moving forward.
Besides, God's role in my son's life overpowers my own. Whatever right or wrong I did does not determine his future. But that doesn’t mean my role is insignificant. I nevertheless played a crucial part in molding him, and it's this belief that fuels my journey as a parent.
So, on this bittersweet journey, I remind myself to not ruminate on the 'could haves' and 'should haves'. I hold onto the belief of leaving it all on the field as my son grows, succeeds, struggles, and learns. And trust God to lead my son into his new chapter.
Letting go gets easier with time, say veteran mothers. The relationship matures, the bond strengthens, giving me a glimmer of hope. As I cheer on my sons, old and young, from the sidelines, my eyes might be riddled with tears, but my heart brims with joy and hope. This, I believe, is what it feels like to have 'left it all on the field.'