To my son,
It’s the weekend, and your new friends are here. You’re surrounded by a whole crew of kids I haven’t met, and it brings tears to my eyes to see you in your element. I see how you handle them with grace and ease. Yet, when they aren’t looking, you look at me to see if I approve or disapprove. Or maybe you’re worrying I might try to embarrass you on purpose because that’s a running joke we have.
I assure you, I won’t. I’m in awe of you and how you’re finding your way in this world. And it blows my mind.
And I’m recognizing the signs. I’ve done this once before with your sister. She’s 21 now and on her own. Even back then, I wasn’t ready. And I thought it would be easier the second time around. But it feels so new and fresh again. I can’t find my feet, and I feel so wobbly.
It’s time to let go and I’m not ready. But you are.
That’s the way of motherhood. Letting go when we don’t want to.
I know it’s time. I know you’re growing and becoming.
And sometimes it’s hard for you . . . but more for me, oh darling, hear me out.
For years, I never wanted kids. I didn’t want to be tied down. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to see the dreams in my heart come to life. I didn’t want to give up my freedom. And I thought one was enough. But, then I dreamed about you.
I dreamed of your bright blue eyes. I saw the dimples in your chubby cheeks. I saw how you adored me with that sparkle in your eye as your chubby hands reached for me and how you would always reach for me.
For seven years, I would dream of you as my heart broke month after month when I found out you wouldn’t be gracing us with your presence just yet. But one night as your father and I put your big sis to bed, she said a prayer, ever so innocently.
She stated with confidence and truth that God would answer her prayers even if He had not answered mine. I dreamed of you as I prayed for God to answer her prayers.
And when those two pink lines confirmed you had taken up residence in my womb, I never felt such purpose or anticipation. I loved you through swollen, sore breasts. I loved you when I was bent over the toilet until there was nothing left. I loved you through the fog and extreme exhaustion that I didn’t know how I was going to make it through another hour.
I loved you through the stretch marks and hospital stays and telling your father I needed more tacos at midnight.
I dreamed of you as I held my belly and counted contractions. I loved you when I gave myself over to something so out of my control. I loved you as I pushed through every contraction, every pain, and fear. I dreamed of you through the chaos as the medical team fought for your life. I rallied for your first breath and your first cry because I knew this world needed your presence even though it didn’t yet know you existed.
And finally, there you were. On my chest, looking up at me with angry, lustful cries for warmth, understanding, and air.
Over the years, you grew and so did I. My dreams changed and they revolved around creating a world for you and your siblings.
Every day, I doubted myself. Especially when your will became your own. The good choices and the bad choices. The ones that gave way to sleepless nights when I questioned if I was the mom you needed me to be.
And each new stage of your life was a new phase of me questioning how to be the person you needed me to be. Through the thick of your toddler years. Even when you let go of my hand in favor of your daddy’s. And even on the first day of school and even when you were grounded for the first time. Or when you walked out onto the wrestling mat. All these moments were collected like 1,000 tiny fragments in my heart.
And now you’re on the cusp of high school, and I know it’s all going to change again. There will be so much more space needed for you to become your own, for me to let go and I don’t know where to find it, much less give it.
So much letting go, and it just squeezes my heart until I can’t breathe. I can already see you walking out the door toward your future.
Your first day of college.
The first day of your job.
And the moment I dread and dream of all at once—the day you introduce me to my future daughter-in-love. The one who will take my place to lift you up, to hold you in her embrace, and to push you to be your best. She will be the one you will confide in. The one who keeps your secrets, the one who holds you to her chest.
But . . . someday, you’ll hold your child, fresh from the womb on your chest. Maybe then you’ll understand as your heart shatters to a million pieces, as all your dreams, ideas, and what you thought life was about—are rebuilt into that little person. Maybe then you’ll understand.
In the meantime, be patient with me as I let go to share you with the world.
After all, you were mine for nine months before I had to share you, the dream of you, with the world. You were my dream before your first heartbeat.
Be patient with me as I loosen the white-knuckle grip I have on you. Be patient with me as I open the arms that have carried you since the moment you breathed life. Be patient with me as I learn to do less holding and teaching so I can do more listening and encouraging.
Be patient as I learn to let go. I love you more than you’ll ever know. And darling, I am still dreaming of your tomorrows.
Originally published on the author’s blog