In the past year my 17 year old son has lost: an adult-sized, embroidered, red, silk, Chinese pajama suit, his wallet (three times!), his phone, his bus card, and his lunch more times than I can count. He is on a first name basis with the lost and found department at the Chicago Transit Authority.
He has been hit by a car while riding his bike and has broken his ankle while skateboarding. He routinely leaves for school wearing nothing heavier than a hoodie despite the forecast being for snow. Next year he begins to apply for college. Deep in my heart, I know he will manage because, despite being absent-minded, he is smart and surprisingly mature. However, I do worry how I will cope.
Letting go is hard for parents. It feels like yesterday that I ducked into the school bathroom to weep when I took my son to kindergarten. It turned out to be the men’s bathroom, and my tears dried quickly because I knew he would be back in a few hours. But college is not kindergarten. College changes the family; we will no longer be the tight unit we’ve always been.
His sister will miss him terribly. It is a goodbye of different proportion. I remind myself that my husband and I have taught him as much as we can and that now he will start to learn in a bigger way from others. He is on his own journey. He will fall down and he will get up. I wish he could avoid all of the mistakes that I have made, but he will not. He will make his own mistakes and he will learn from them. He will question my values and my faith. He will stick to some of these values and hopefully rely on his faith.