An End of an Era or the Start of a New One?
It’s the Friday of the Labour Day weekend and never in a million years would I have thought this day would be here. Sure, in theory, 18 years ago I conceptualized the idea that this sweet-smelling newborn I currently held in my arms just hours old, would head off to University… one day… in the distant future… something that “old” and seasoned parents dealt with… That day is here. He leaves tomorrow. Blink. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet just a nanosecond has passed.
Those of us that have children generally expect, hope, dream the best for them and we strive to support, love and nurture them the best we can over the years. The concept of launching them out into the world is a vague notion when they first arrive. Our goal over the many years was when he was ready he would step off into the big wide world confident in his abilities and able to use the skills we fostered and taught him as the stepping stones to his future success.
My oldest son is one of those type of kids that was born 25… as soon as he could basically walk and talk he tested his boundaries in almost every way and we encouraged it and supported his development to the best of our abilities, hoping when he stumbles in the coming years, he could right himself. We knew years ago he would physically travel far away from us to explore the world and true to form, he is. Tomorrow he is travelling to a University located a 5 hour flight from where we live… the day has eventually arrived and another successful checkmark on the bucket list of life able to be ticked off… Yeah, hooray, pop the champagne cork. Phew!
The last few months when I’ve told my friends where my son is heading, most of the reactions I’ve received were immediate cringes as my friends said “Oh wow, you’ll miss him!” and I’ve confidently and pragmatically replied, “It’s all good, we’re both ready for this new corner”… so why in the last week have I come close to unexpected tears as I have flashbacks to everyday memories of his life: his 2 year old self playing tag with us while he laughs hysterically at his own antics; his late grandfather leaning over the slide with open arms encouraging him to come down to him and the joy on both of their faces as he successfully maneuvers this momentous feat; the sleepy (me) early morning Easter egg hunt as he tears through the living room searching for chocolate treats that will be gone by 3:00 that afternoon; waving out the door at the departing school bus for the first time; the frantic preparations of last minutes school assignments; the vision of his teenage friends gathered on the backyard trampoline talking and laughing in easy friendship; the late nights in my quiet living room unbeknownst to him waiting for him to arrive home safely as he spread his wings navigating young adulthood.
I left my corporate job many years ago and started a business to be flexible and present in my children’s lives as recently written about in the book “Empowering Women to Succeed”. Our personal choices effect those around us and my oldest was then 10 years old when I said goodbye to that lifestyle. Everyday I’m thankful I broke away from the golden handcuffs that took me away 15 out of 30 days every month travelling for the job. I sacrificed the salary and status for the ability to be more present in my children’s lives. I hope the sacrifice and choices I made will reflect positively in my children’s lives. Though they eventually lead their own lives, we as parents feel responsible for their start so in a small part their success becomes ours.
Is this an end of an era? He will come home for Christmas and (maybe) summers but our family dynamic will forever change tomorrow… it’s a start of a new era; for him and us. Life goes on, and we can look back and dwell in the memories of the past with longing and nostalgia… or we can look forward to all the new opportunities as they unfold: how he will continue to grow and develop into adulthood; to visiting him in the new city; seeing where his talents take him as he carves out his career. Given the roller coaster of emotions I’ve had in the last week I’ll take a moment to shed the tears if they come when he’s standing at the airport gate, backpack in hand and casual wave, embarking on his new adventure. However, our hopes continues to sustain us as we change and navigate through life… like we hoped 18 years ago he would be ready to take that independent step, I will continue to hope he will be happy in the choices he makes and knowing he has a soft place to land for support if or when he still needs us.
Heading to University