Learning to Love the Bittersweet

I remember vividly the my son’s first day of school. The smell of the school (that never seems to change), the awful low pile carpet, the bare brick walls…those things meant nothing then. Then…I had no idea this was one of those tiny memories that I would be storing up like diamonds. That freckled face red head boy who so proudly and bravely strolled into Kindergarten without a qualm simply amazed me….I was a nervous wreck. This was my boy….my first born. I had held him…rocked him….sang to him and been up all night with him and on this day….he was walking out of my reach and forging a new path. I prayed…that his teacher would grow to understand my boy. That she would realize he is a very social soul. He knows no strangers (much like his mother) and I knew that could be frustrating. I was so worried that she wouldn’t realize that my boy was special….that he needed a firm but loving hand. I worried she wouldn’t see that and that she would want to restrain that very special part of him. But she didn’t. She instinctively knew that he was very outgoing and he just need a gentle guidance. I can’t thank her enough for that. There will never be enough words to express to her how much that acceptance of my boy’s nature meant to me.


Today….thirteen years later I watched my boy stroll (strut?) across that stage and shake the hand of the man handing him his high school diploma. It was a hard knock. A bittersweet moment that I reveled in and wanted to run from at the same time. Here was my boy. A productive citizen of society that his father and  I strove so hard to lead. He was in his cap and gown, grinning from ear to ear, and my heart swelled to enormous proportions. He did it. He earned what, in today’s time, seems unattainable to so many. But my mother’s heart was cracking wide open. I wanted to run on that field…snatch him up and say…”NO….STOP GROWING UP!” I wanted to cry (but I didn’t) and shout to the heavens….”I’m just not ready!!”


I had such a hard time when he turned 18. I realized that he was no longer in my “control” and that he was his own person.  I worried constantly that he would need my guidance but not ask for it because he was “all grown up now”. I should have known better. After many…MANY months of worry and upset I realized…my boy had never stopped asking me for guidance. He may be grown but he was still his mama’s boy. There is no greater relief in the world that coming to that realization. That you are still needed by your children even after they are grown.

Today…I watched my son pass a milestone that is hard to obtain. I was so fiercely proud of him that I could hardly speak. I literally shook in my shoes the whole ceremony because I understood what this meant. He was “all grown up now” and he had freedom to do as he wished. Tonight he is with his friends….doing ridiculously funny/stupid things in honor of graduating. I still worry. Yes….that will never go away. But I have come to realize that we have to let him be who we raised him to be. A good boy. And as I sit here and cry over the nostalgia that swamps me at every corner I have turned tonight I’ve come to see…we did good. We did FABULOUS. Our boy is conquering this thing called life with full gusto and to that I say…congratulations my biggest baby boy. We are SO very proud of you and you…you are loved more than you could possibly understand!


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