Something changes with that first cry, that first breath of air, that first glimpse. Something changes with that first realization that things will never ever be the same now that you have bought a life into this world.
I was a young mother, only twenty years old when I gave birth to the first of my five children. Young, but certain I knew everything and certain that my answers and solutions were always correct. I was so right and I was so very wrong. Life was indeed never the same once I became a parent.
Nothing prepares you for the love, the challenges, the joys and the worries that parenthood brings you. As far as being certain that I know everything and have all the answers, the only thing I am now certain of is that I definitely do NOT have all the answers.
Time changes us. Experience changes us. Being a parent definitely changes us.
Today, my eldest son is leaving home. It shouldn’t come as such a shock to me. I have known for 22 years that this day would eventually come. Yet somehow, in what seems like the blink of an eye, the years have flown by and this goodbye has managed to sneak up on me. My son has been growing up for years, slowly changing while growing more self-reliant and responsible. He has made friends, learned things and risen to challenges.
He has also made mistakes, or as I like to refer to them, he has experienced life lessons. It’s at those times that I both envy him and worry about him because he reminds me so much of a younger me. (Although that’s something I should probably not say within his earshot, as most kids his age would be appalled to hear that anyone even thinks that they’re anything like their parents.) I envy him the naiveté of believing that everything can be classified as right or wrong. I envy him for the conviction that things should be done his own way or not at all. I envy him of the ability to see the world for all the possibilities it offers with only some thought as to what the future might bring, responsibility wise.
And yet, I worry, because I know that life is not just black and white, but rather shades of grey, interspersed with many brilliant colors along with the occasional bolt of lightning. I want all of his hopes and dreams to come true, yet I worry for him because I know that the road to success is paved with failures and disappointments. I worry how life’s setbacks will affect him. I worry about all the big bad wolves out in the world whom my son might not recognize through their disguises.
My son just finished serving 3 1/2 years in the army as a combat soldier yet he was never unreachable for more than a week at a time. We also knew that if there was ever an emergency he was, at the most, only a few hours away. Today, he is moving 7000 miles away, and with that comes a ten-hour time difference. While he will, hopefully, only be away for a year, it’s tough to imagine not having him close by. It’s tough letting him go, with a whole heart, to let him live his journey.
Independence changes us. Change changes us. Life changes us.
I think the toughest thing about parenting is realizing and accepting that your child’s life is his life, his journey. When my son was born I was under the misconception that I was in charge, that I could control things. Those first few weeks of colic should have clued me in. Control is an illusion.
Sure, I tried my best to control what I could, to steer him in the direction that I thought was best for him. As he grew up and grew into himself, he pushed against my control, against my steering. Slowly at first, then a bit harder. It took me many years to realize that I have to let go, that his life was not my journey to live. His life and his journey is going to be different from mine; connected at many points but different and at times separate.
Love changes you. Love connects. Love lets you go and hopes you will come back soon.
So today as I wish my son good luck and say good-bye, I have tears in my eyes. Tears of sadness to see him go and tears of joy because I am proud of him, because I believe in him, because I am excited for him and because I love him.
My son’s life is his journey not mine. For me, accepting that and letting go is the hardest part of parenting. What do you feel is the toughest part of being a parent?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Susie Newday of Israel. You can find her positive thoughts on her blog, New Day New Lesson.
Photo credit to the author.