Dear Reader: I know. It’s been awhile since I posted to Always Orange. It would make me feel better if I explained why. For starters, the beginning of a new school year is always a busy time. From faculty meetings to classroom setup to lesson planning, the remaining days of summer vanish in a flurry of activity. In addition, August 20, found Brad, Jake, and me in our car headed for Georgia and the start of new adventure for Jake—college. So this post is dedicated to him and this new chapter in his life.
I can still recall the doctor asking Brad if he wanted to snip the umbilical cord. With one cut, the vital link that kept Jacob alive for nine months in utero, ended. That moment marked a first step towards independence. He no longer needed me to breathe. Yes, he would still receive nourishment from me, but not through the life-giving cord that attached the two of us for the better part of a year.
Another “cut” occurred last weekend. Perhaps the biggest one since that initial sever—dropping Jake off at college. For so many years, it seemed like such a long way off. But somehow the last four years of high school brought the distant future closer with each passing year.
It’s difficult to find a new word to express the thoughts and feelings which have swirled in my heart and mind this past week. Bittersweet seems to be the best one. It encapsulates most accurately this new transition. Wise friends who have walked this road ahead of me told me this would be the case. They shared their own stories of dropping off a child at college, and relayed the grief and sadness they felt while simultaneously feeling proud and excited.
By nature, Jake is a fairly quiet car traveler. He’s been this way since he was toddler. Unlike his sister who chatted continuously, Jake was content to sit quietly, looking out the window, deep in thought. When he was really little, we might hear snippets of a story as it formed in his head. As much as I wanted to talk and fill every passing hour with meaningful conversation, I knew that Jake needed some quiet to think and process all the changes that would transpire in his life. I also fought the urge to share every last pearl of wisdom that I might have missed over the last nineteen years and so disturb his reverie.
Throughout the orientation activities, the gentle reminders from Brad that all would be well and he would figure things out, forced me to accept the nature of our new roles. Jake doesn’t need me (or want me) to figure out every last detail for him. What he needs is a supportive mom, who listens well and offers advice when asked, as he navigates his new- found independence.
This past Wednesday he called. To be honest, I felt giddy with excitement. Wednesday was his first day of classes so both Brad and I were eager to hear how they went. After we had talked for a bit, I asked him if he needed to get going. He replied, “I can talk some more.” Music to my ears! We chatted a bit longer and then said our goodbyes.
It’s going to take a while to adjust to this new season. On the one hand, I know deep within me that Jake is ready to “fly the coop.” This is what the last nineteen years have been about—preparing him for this moment. Yet, the other hand wants to hold on tight and say, “just a little more time.” As parents, I don’t know if we are ever completely ready for our children to leave home. After all, being a parent is a huge part of our identity. I will always be a mom. But the nature of my role as mom shifted in a new direction this past week.
Earlier this summer I read again the comforting words from Psalm 139: 9-10—appropriate words to close this post. They also serve as a reminder that while our children may leave our presence, they never leave God’s.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.