It’s hard for me to let you go.
I look at you and I see the young man that you are. I do. I really do. I see you but I don’t see you. I have to keep reminding myself that you are not 14 years old. Or 6 or 2 or 12. I look at you and I can still see you sleeping angelic like in your crib. Soft cheeks. Soft face. All mine. I want to cradle you. With no effort at all I can see you running to me with your eight year old knobby knee skinned and tears freely streaming down your cheeks needing mercy. I want to comfort you. I see you at twelve, awkward with a mouth full of braces and a heart yet to be broken, full of hope and I want to shield you. I see your grown man’s body and yet I can so easily see you in soccer gear that’s too big for you. I feel a surge of pride over you and when I remember an injury you suffered, the feeling of jealous protection that rises from within me comes out like a momma bear’s growl – my reaction as oversized as your shin guards.
I do see you. But equally, I remember you.
I am your mother. I always will be. I love you with a fierce devotion that defies measurement. I honor your choices, your desires, your difficulties, your life yet I struggle to reel my responses in. I’m not supposed to scream with joy when I see you on campus. It’s not helpful for you to have me throw things out the window when you are deeply hurt. I can’t cradle you or coddle you. But oh, sometimes…sometimes I really want to.
Though you fit perfectly in my full heart, you no longer fit in my lap. Nor my arms. Your soft puffy hands have become firm, defined, weathered and strong and I love them. But sometimes my lap and my arms ache with longing and memory. My body remembers what my soul will never forget.
I know I have to let you go. I have to let you grow. I need to learn who you are now and re-learn our relationship. Re-negotiate. I need to grow into becoming a strong, encouraging and good mother of an amazing and capable young man and I don’t quite know how to do that. I don’t yet know how to be the mother that I want to be -that you need me to be. But because of Love, because of God, I’m confident we will find our way to this new way.
I want to always offer you mercy and as we enter a whole new life stage, I need mercy from you as well. Because we both know that I will make mistakes here. So will you. And that’s okay. That’s where love and forgiveness and security come in. I’m not going anywhere. And from that spacious safe place, I want you to know that my well-being is not up to you to provide. My happiness is not your responsibility.
In the midst of growing up and away, in the changing and the learning, I cheer for you, son. I believe in you and I pray for you. I hope for you and dream for you and I even ache when you ache. That’s part of the holy goodness of being a mother. There is an eternal fiber of advocacy, truth and a deep seeing of YOU - what is now, what was and what will be, that time, distance or any circumstance is unable to unravel. I am your mother.
I honor the young man that you are, the man you are becoming. You took my breath away when I first felt you flutter within me. You made my heart burst when I first beheld your miracle self. You still do.
I see you. And I remember you. I see you. And I remember me.
I love that I am your mother. I LOVE that I am your mother. Though I am your’s, I am not you nor are you me. You are separate from me. You have the right to live your life fully, independently and wholeheartedly. I admit I don’t like the separation but I respect it. And though I can no longer carry you as easily in my arms as I once did, I will forever carry you in my heart.
It is my honor to do so. It is part of my calling as your mother to do so. And it is part of my calling as your mother to let you go.
So I will let you go as far as you need to, are meant to and God calls you to. But never so far that you leave my heart. Never that.