A little over a year ago my firstborn packed up his car to head off to his first year at university. As he stood surveying what needed to go in the car and the limited remaining trunk space he remarked, “I’m taking so much stuff. It’s like I’m moving out.”
“You are, Son.” I replied.
He hadn’t yet processed what I already knew. He might come home for breaks but his perception of “Home” was about to change dramatically and permanently. I didn’t cry as I rode with him up to school. I didn’t cry riding home with Jay, either. But I wanted to.
I knew my beloved son was leaving. Not leaving my life, you understand, but leaving my care, protection, instruction, and daily experience. He’s a fantastic young man, so no wonder I missed him even before he left!
He spent this summer between his first and second years with us, sort of camping in his bedroom, with the understanding and expectation that it would probably be the last time he’d “live” at home. He’s hoping for an internship next summer, and the next, and then a job in his field. He’s working hard at school to make that happen.
We had the opportunity to have a couple of heart-to-heart talks while he was here for the summer. He told me “Thank you” for the way he was brought up. For a mom who is all too aware of her shortcomings, that meant the world, no…the UNIVERSE to me. I told him it was okay to go. I told him his father and I will always love him and have a place for him, that we’ll always be ready to help him, and that we’re proud of him. Then I told him to go and live his life. I also asked him to please call his mother once in a while, because she worries.
He seemed relieved that I understood and that I wasn’t mad that he’d “moved on” from the way it was when he lived at home. He’d finally processed that he left home when he left for university. And now it’s safe for him to relate to me in a new way rather than avoiding contact for fear of what I might say or how I might react.
So my advice to brand-new university moms is first, “Let them know.” Let them know you love them, you’re proud of them, you’re confident they can succeed, you’ll always have a place for them in your life, and you’ll be ready to help when you can.
Then “LET THEM GO.” Be the safe harbor from which they set out and to which they can return, not the anchor that weighs them down with guilt for leaving. Let them explore. Let them learn. Let them make mistakes and clean up their own messes.
If you have given them a foundation of love and truth and faith, they’ll probably come back once in a while. It helps if you invite them and promise them food.
Blessings, Mothers! You started letting go the day they were born, now give them a loving boost into adult life.
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