Thursday, April 24, 2008

We Grow Older -- Children Do Too

Since we returned from Europe three weeks ago, I’ve been busy with the normal family stuff as well as preparing for an adoption conference that I’ve co-chaired which is happening this Saturday. In the midst of this, I’ve also been helping my second son prepare to move. It was fun to go shopping with him earlier this week to pick out some of the items he’d need to stock his first apartment. He’s nineteen and has been ready to move for several months, but it has taken time for him to get all of the pieces put together. My husband and I have encouraged him; we understood that it was time for him to move on. So, as I’ve been busily getting back into the post-vacation routine and preparing for the conference, I’ve also done this and that to help my son prepare for this move that I knew was coming, that I encouraged him to pursue and about which I felt good.

This morning I woke up early to see my husband off on a business trip and to have time to write my son a rite-of-passage letter. As I wrote the letter, I began to comprehend the reality of what would happen today. It has been many years since I dropped our oldest son off at college and, somehow, I’d managed to avoid remembering how hard that was. How I cried down the two flights of stairs from his dorm room; how I sat in the car with tears running down my cheeks; how I drove the two hours home with a continually wet face. This morning I suddenly realized the impending end of childhood for my second son. He’ll still be our son, he’ll still need us. Hopefully, he’ll still ask for advice now and then, but once he’s moved out, he’ll never again be a child in our home. Even if he someday returns to live with us, it will be as a young adult who has experienced life on his own.

So, I cried some this morning and I thought of my son often today – wondering how his day was going, how he was doing in his new apartment, whether or not he’d eat dinner at the cute little table we’d bought on sale at IKEA. Then, this evening, my phone rang. It was my son, calling to check in and let me know how his day had gone, that he was settling into his apartment nicely and that his girlfriend had come over to make dinner and they’d eaten at the cute little table. It was hard to anticipate this emotional-umbilical cord break. It was hard to hug him, wish him well and say goodbye, but it felt great to hear his voice on the phone, to hear his excitement and to know that he is doing fine. The anticipation of separation hurts, the reality of saying goodbye is tough, but the reality of a child growing up and being capable is sweet!

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