Sending your child off to college is sort of the penultimate of parenting. You’ve done your job, your child has succeeded well enough to live on his own and pursue a level of education many people never have a chance to experience. Parenting isn’t over, but it’s different. For many of us there are still bills to pay for them, summers to house them, and plenty of worry. It’s also a time to step back and say I literally created this human from my own flesh* and I’ve raised a good person, may he go in peace.
And then they get hurt (in my case) or maybe sick (in your case) but suddenly you feel as protective as the mom of the toddler who got pushed down in the sandbox and for the first time, you aren’t there for them.
Saturday, I was watching a live stream of son #2’s Lacrosse game in Utah while I was at a five-year-olds birthday party (talk about parenting at both ends!). This technology is a gift so that parents and loved ones can continue to watch their child play but it’s also not perfect and difficult to tell who is who. I saw a player go down behind the goal and somehow I just knew it was my kid. I couldn’t get confirmation, watched the rest of the game, texted my son after the game and yep it was him, and yep it was an old injury that’s still a problem…maybe a big one.
Then he’s at an urgent care without me, getting X-rays, figuring out his insurance information. All important steps, things that help you grow up. But, I just want to be there. I want to make sure he keeps ice on it, takes his anti-inflammatories, rests, and everything else I’m pretty sure he’s not doing without a mama bear making it happen.
So what I’ve realized is that when I sent my grown sons off to college, I knew they had many lessons to learn. What I didn’t realize is how many lessons I still needed to learn. Lessons about letting go, loving from afar, and finding my place that is no longer at the center of his universe…as it should be.
*I’m speaking to my experience here, if you became a parent or grew to love a child that was not created out of your flesh, I honor your experience and understand that giving birth to a child does not make you a parent, showing up every day does.