My oldest son recently joined the Army National Guard, and he is preparing to leave for four months to go to Army basic training and job training across the country. Every time I see him or talk to him and bring up something about his recent departure he responds with, “Mom, I will be fine.”
As you bring your new baby home from the hospital, you are not really thinking about 18 years down the road and how hard it will be to let that child go. I can think of three distinct times in my oldest son’s life when I had a lesson in letting go of him.
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When my son was 11, I was pregnant again with my third child, and right before his 12th birthday, I gave birth to my daughter. I remember this was the first time I really felt that process of letting go as my son started to go through puberty and distancing himself from me. I could sense a shift in our relationship as he was transitioning from boyhood to the teenage time of his life. I remember talking to my aunt who gave me good advice, she said this was a good thing in his development as you want your children to become independent so eventually, they can transition into adulthood successfully.
As we went through the next years of my son’s life, he grew more independent.
He was not the type of kid I had to remind to do anything. I remember when he was a junior in high school, I went to the parent night at school where they discuss all you need to know for your child’s senior year. I did not even make it home, I started crying in the parking lot. For the next year, I cried off and on. By the day of his graduation, I had cried all my tears, and I felt a peace and calm envelope me.
Two months later, he left home to go to college. I remember that day so vividly as I saw my son drive his truck with all his belongings down the road away from our house. I cried and cried. And he only moved to the next town over, about 45 minutes away.
It was another shift in our relationship as we transitioned from teenage life to adulthood.
As the months went on, I adjusted to our new relationship. We would visit frequently or talk on the phone. I tried to still be there for anything important in his life like helping him move into his first apartment. Any time he called me to ask for help with something or advice on something new he was navigating, my heart would secretly leap for joy.
He still needed me but in a different way.
Now for our next step of letting go. I remember the day he called me and said mom I am going to join the National Guard. I felt that same sad, crying feeling that was now familiar.
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I have always prayed that God would be the opener and closer of the doors of my children’s lives and only Him. That day he called me, I got off the phone and started praying, “God if this isn’t the door he should go through, please close the door.” About a month later, I got the text from him: Mom, I was just sworn into the National Guard.
And guess what, I burst into tears again.
But I needed to trust in God.
He had answered my prayers, and He would be faithful to take care of my son in this next journey of his life.
Motherhood has truly been an experience of sowing in tears but reaping in joy. I would not trade this motherhood journey with my oldest son for the world. Now I get to stand beside him as he goes to basic training and see the amazing things he will do next.
And I am sure there will be more tears.