The Crossroads Graduation Brings

I wanted to write about passages, and a son facing just one more year of high school before setting off on the road to the rest of his life. I wanted the column to be happy and optimistic and positive and yada yada yada … I really wanted that.

But as I started to write, the truth hit me: I’m scared.

I’m scared witless and not ashamed to admit it. Yes, he’s 16. Yes, he physically towers over me. And, yes, we’ve raised him right. We’re still raising him right.

But, but … he’s my one and only, my baby. Sure, when I look at him I see a tall, strong body. When he talks I hear a chesty growl. The first time that voice came out of him it actually startled the heck out of me. But in my mind he’s still the child who put a tiny hand – and a whole lot of trust – into mine wherever we went. He’s still the toddler who loved our story time together as we snuggled in his new, big-boy bed. I miss him. I miss that time. He was safe and secure with me and his dad in our cozy nest. I always knew where he was and what to do if he got a cut or took a tumble. As a mom, I just knew. Now I’m not so sure. I feel like I’ve somehow misplaced that little boy and sometimes I want him back.

Why am I so clingy now? Because we had a meeting with the college counselor. Because now we’ve got deadlines. And because we can no longer ignore the reality of inexorably advancing time. I can’t put it off any longer.

We have to consider college options. We need to plan for SATS and schedule exploratory trips to the Mainland. I probably waited too long to snap out of my cocoon of denial, but, well, I’m doing it now, albeit reluctantly.

I know my son’s feeling it, too. He’s intimidated, not ready to leave the nest. Maybe by the end of his senior year he’ll be eager to go, but right now he’s happy at home. He’s got to be in on these decisions, but the world looks so big and overwhelming. What does he want? Where is he headed? He just doesn’t know yet.

We saw his trepidation, so we told him: We don’t stop being your parents just because you’re in college. We’ll always be there for you and you can count on us if you need us. If you go to the Mainland, we’re just a plane ride or a telephone call or an e-mail or a text away. You will not be alone.

And as we said those words, I could see he was feeling a little better, and I started to feel better, too. I realized then that I needed the reassurance just as much as he did.

We are at that place in time called a crossroad. We can’t keep reliving the past, we can’t make time stand still. We want to enjoy the rest of our son’s childhood while keeping our eyes fixed on the future. Graduation is still more than a year off and we all have some growing up to do. But he’s going to be OK. We’re all going to be OK, me included.