A New Beginning

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He looked at me and kept walking. Too wound up in laughter and conversation with new friends to acknowledge Mom. A knife through the heart, yet a heart bursting with overwhelming pride and love.

So, was my day yesterday. My youngest son had college orientation–a 3 day event including scheduling, fun, and just getting to know his new home. We went to pick him up and pulled in front of the auditorium where he would be coming out. I wanted to walk with him to his dorm and help him pack up and come home. There he was, my boy, walking out among the other college freshman with wide eyes and wide smiles, knowing that this was the start of a new chapter in their lives. He was surrounded by a group of new friends, but the way they were chatting and smiling, you would have thought they knew each other forever. I yelled for him, so he knew we were there. He looked around, then kept walking, kept talking. My heart hurt. He was in a new city, but seemed completely unfazed and completely courageous.

We drove to his dorm. There he was standing outside, bags in hand, like an old pro. He jumped in my car with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, full of stories and excitement. He didn’t just like his new home, he LOVED his new home. “It’s kind of weird,” he said, “we come here and then go home and have to wait another 2 months to start college.” He wanted to be there now, no waiting. He was ready to fly my nest. His wings were dry and he wanted to soar. I just smiled.

It’s what we are supposed to do, isn’t it? We are supposed to nurture our children, give them the right tools to be successful adults, then send them on their way with encouragement, But, somehow when that time comes, we want to stop it. We want them safe at home where we can protect them from the ugliness of the world. But, it’s in the ugliness that they find their beauty. Things have to get messy sometimes in order to become harmonious. I wonder why it hurts so much when it’s what I always wanted. I wanted to raise 2 successful, creative, intelligent, funny, interesting citizens of the world. I wanted them to face life with enthusiasm and sheer abandon. And I did. I should be proud and happy and move on to this new phase in my life with a sense of adventure as what will come next, not just for them, but for me as well.

And I am….but it still aches. Aches for the little blonde boy picking up bugs in the yard and worried for their safety. Aches for the little redhead who loved Elmo and wanted to read every book he got his hands on. Aches for the blonde boy whose first word was “firetruck” and who insisted on becoming a vegetarian at age 5 and still is, by the way. Aches for the curly red-haired boy who asked the principal on the first day of Kindergarten, “Where’s the science lab?”

But those boys are still here, they are just in the guise of extraordinary men, ones ready to conquer the world. The blonde boy now shows me his visions through his lens, a lens that now captures the bugs and the firetrucks with a love that permeates and radiates through the photos he takes. The redhead that sits for hours on his computer, coding games and creating fantastical lands and creatures with that enormous creativity. They are still there and I am still their mom.

So, as they continue on their journeys on the streets of Pittsburgh and the walls of the Corcoran, they know I will always be their number one supporter, unconditionally and with my whole heart. In an odd twist of the universe, there is a bird’s nest on my front porch, inside a hanging basket. I’ve been watching it for the past 2 months, from egg to chick to bird. I watch the mom and dad hover over their babies, feeding them and squawking away at invaders. I watched as the babies began to grow and fight for space in the nest. Today, I looked out, as I do every morning and they were gone. They had left the nest. They were now soaring off to new adventures, creating their own lives. But, there was mom in the tree, chirping away as usual. Ready for her own adventure.

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Thank You

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Once again I find myself in this unwanted position—the mother of a graduated senior. It feels like I was just here and now three short years later, I’m back here again…..for the last time. I’ve sat through my last parent/teacher conference, read my last report card, attended my last awards ceremony. The past week has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been happy one minute, a sobbing mess the next.

I’ve heard a lot of graduates talking about gratitude and thanking their parents and teachers for helping them get through the 13 years of school and supporting them all the way. As I sat at the Graduation ceremony, a few nights ago, I thought about how thankful I am to both my sons. So, I write this to them.

Dear Holden and Harrison,

I want to thank you. I know I should be soliciting gratitude from both of you. I mean, I did create you(well, I guess your dad helped). I did nurture you both for 9 months, through 2 high-risk pregnancies. I did spend excruciating hours trying to birth you into this world…..years of breast-feeding, late nights, bumps, bruises, hospital visits, temper tantrums, etc. etc. etc. Then, let’s not forget the 11+ years I home-schooled you both. Some days, I just wanted to send you to the principal’s office, but that wouldn’t have done much, would it?  Oh and all the money spent, time given, tears shed, did I mention money and tears? But, through all of this, there isn’t one moment I would change. Not one single tear, I would take back. Every second being your mom through the years has been a pleasure. It’s an honor being the mom to two such magnificent creatures.

Today, though, I want to thank YOU both. Thank you for showing me what unconditional love truly is. You taught me that I have a capacity to love that I never dreamed I had in me. You taught me to laugh more. Thank you for the laughter that was always around both of you…..from Holden’s squirrel friend to Harrison’s love of my credit cards(inside jokes), there was never a shortage of fun around the house.

Thank you for showing me how to be a nerd. I had always liked sci fi and all that geeky stuff, but you both opened me up to a whole new world of geekdom and I couldn’t be happier. I love watching tv with you, going to all those superhero movies(who likes those crappy rom-com’s anyway).

Warning: Mom is going to get serious now. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being the lights in my darkness. I know having a depressed, Borderline mom has not exactly been a walk in the park, I know. I know it’s been extremely difficult some days. I know it’s felt like Mom is crazy and the craziness was spilling over into you. But, it was never about you. It’s just me. Always has been. Always will be.

The days I couldn’t get out of bed. The meltdowns. The tears. The screams. When I was in the darkest recesses of those caves in my mind, there were these 2 points of light that always hovered around me. When I was on the edge, contemplating whether or not to jump, there was always something tugging on each of my legs, pulling me from the brink. That, my beautiful sons, was both of you. YOU saved ME.

The thought of not seeing those blue eyes. The thought of never hearing the word, “Mom”…..that is what pulled me back to reality. My reality. Not perfect, kind of broken, but MINE. You were my salvation. My saving grace. So, while I may have given you life. You returned the favor.

As you both continue on this journey of life, take with you my absolute gratitude. You made me want to be a better person. You made me want to survive. You made me want to live. Because, in giving you life…I found mine.

I love you both to the moon and back times infinity.

Love, MOM