Friday, August 08, 2008

Beginnings and Endings

He's leaving me in one week.

The realization struck last night as I poured the hard sticks of spaghetti into a pot of boiling water. Then I turned the handle away from the edge of the stove. That's when it struck me. I don't have to do this anymore. Turn the handles in to protect little fingers from burns.  Tears mixed in the boiling water.  He cannot conceive of the heartache I feel.  

My heart is being torn out. You see, my son, Jesse, having graduated from high school a few months ago, is moving out next week to go to college. To begin that wondrous journey all kids look forward to: freedom. Making a life of their own. It was a very sudden thing. He's been vacillating on two career options this summer, and I had thought he would take a year off and start school next year. Within two weeks he has been accepted to a school, and put down a deposit on an apartment in a town an hour away from where we live.

I can be happy that he's independent and eager to go to school and move forward in a life that I know will be filled with as much success and happiness as it is trial and hard work. He's a smart kid. I taught him well.

But I'm mourning the loss of something that is literally a piece of me. That sweet little boy I used to call 'Puppy toes' and 'Bob'. I still call him Bob. Don't know why. Don't even like that name, but he's always been Bob.

So no more turning in pot handles. No more neatly folding boxer shorts (knowing they'll only get shoved in a drawer).   No more looking out the patio window to find Bob following with his plastic lawn mower, while Dad mows the lawn. No more emergency computer fixes (Bob's taking Computer Networking in college; he knows computers). No more experiments with sports as each school year arrives (he's not much of an athlete, but he does like to try new things, much to the shrieking agony of our checkbook).

No longer need I worry about rushing from errands to meet him before he gets home from school (I've worked at home since he was little; no babysitters). I won't have to wonder about what to make for supper that he'll at least eat and not sneer at (but hey, the kid loves his broccoli). I won't be able to laugh at his fascination with yard sprinklers, and watch him take them apart, only to realize he can't put them back together. I won't have anyone to listen to the latest Metallica or Flogging Molly song with me. He won't be there to debate which cat was the one to leave that little present on the step. Nor will I get to eat those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies he likes to make in the evenings (yeah, he can bake a mean cookie). As well, I won't be able to sit out on the back step and ask my favorite "So, what do you think about yourself?" and get those great honest answers that sometimes include "Good", "Cool", or even "Eh".

They say sons are different than daughters. My daughter moved out five years ago. I helped her pack, got her apartment set up, then waved her off. She would be fine. My heart fluttered then.

My heart sobs now. Bob is different. There is a connection between us that is unlike with my daughter. It is passionate, and deep. And so I cannot watch him pack. I can barely write this post without crying. And I won't be able to wave when he turns to start his new life. He won't look back. He doesn't need to. School and freedom and girls and cars and all that good stuff waits. He's ready for the world. But I'm not ready for the world to have him.

What about you? Have you had to send a child off into the world recently? Was it easy, hard, like ripping out your heart? Does it get easier after a while?

I celebrate my son's step out into the world! But that doesn't mean I won't be shedding a lot of tears over the months. Sigh...


Karen Foley said...

OMG, Michele, I'm crying as I read this!! Ack!! I don't know how parents do it, I really don't. I look at my 14 and 11-year old daughters and ache for the toddlers they were (wasn't it just yesterday?) and wonder where the time went. When I think about my older girl leaving us, my throat tightens and my eyes tear up. Hugs to you on this huge transition. Your life is never going to be the same, but you've given the world an amazing gift, and that's something to be proud of. I'm sure he'll be home often, missing your special talks, your home-cooked meals, and the knowledge that he's loved so much.

Playground Monitor said...

I truly believe there IS a much different connection between mothers and sons. As a MOOS, I can't make a comparison, but all I know is you'd better never mess with my sons or I'll come after you.

I remember sending the older one off to kindergarten. He was a high energy, strong willed child from the beginning, so while my heartstrings were being tugged, another part was saying "Ohmygosh, someone else can deal with all that energy for part of the day." By the time he left for college, he had calmed down, but I still remember standing on the front porch as he drove off, waving back at me through the sunroof in his car. The DH informed me that you didn't take a boy to college; you let him go on his own. I'd have preferred to take him. I think my husband feels that way because his parents not only didn't take him to college, they never once visited him while he was there. And his father didn't even come to his graduation because he was a minister. He could have had someone fill in for him but just didn't.

Be very, very happy, Michele, that you've raised such a strong, independent son. That will serve him well when he's having to make his own decisions in college, and we both know there are some tough ones to make. Both my boys are wonderful men now. #1 is an architect who's married to a wonderful girl and they've given me a beautiful two-year-old granddaughter. #2 is back in grad school and is a graduate assistant track coach. Of course, I wish they'd come home to visit more often... LOL!


AuthorM said...

Oh, man, Michele, you made me cry.

Last night my boy and I beat the video game we've been playing together all summer and earned infinite credits and he said "this is the best day of my life!"

And I thought -- I hope that's not true, I hope there are better days than this ahead of you, little boy...but at the same time, I never want to forget his joy and how he was sharing it with me.

Great post. and BIG HUGS to you!


Helen Brenna said...

Oh, Michele. With tears in my eyes, you made me go somewhere I really didn't want to. Not yet. I'll be in your shoes soon. My daughter left last year and my son will be leaving in 4 short years.

I think sons are different than daughters, and I think that last one to go is different than the first. I'm guessing there's nothing that can take this hurt away other than grandkids. And it's a little too soon for that.

Oh, crap. It's going to be hard for your and that's all there is to it.

You need a trip to PARIS! Yeah. That'll cheer you up!

Michele Hauf said...

Paris! Woohoo!

Yeah, it's just weird. I was sitting on the deck this morning and thought about Bob inside still sleeping. Sigh...

But okay, there are some good things to come out of it. Like the extra room. Library, anyone? And the lacking noise that usually comes from his massive computer system. I can hear it outside somedays! And then, of course, there is that three-letter word I'd nearly forgotten the definition of. Starts with 'S', ends with 'X'. With no kids in the house, the hubby and I just may remember the meaning of that word.

Playground Monitor said...

LOL about the three-letter word! And that extra room is nice. That's why I have my own office now that both boys are gone.

the book girl said...

My little boy is starting kindergarten next week and I am a wreck. He went to preschool for 3 years, but it was at church and I new all of the kids and teachers. Now he is going to a public school where I don't know anyone that will be with him. The thought of my little 5 year old getting his own lunch and being responsible for his own things has me completely freaked out. He is very smart (started reading at 4), so I also worry about him being bored. I guess no matter how old they are it is hard to let them go. (Even if it is just for 6 hours a day.)

Welcome to My Writer's Attic said...

I've done a lot of letting go in the past almost 2 years. My oldest son graduated school, joined the army, got married, had a baby and is now in Iraq. Too much too fast. And now my second son will be 18 in October and is still deciding if he wants to share an apt with his friends or stay with us while going to college. I still have my baby girl for another 2 years but I know when the day comes that she leaves I won't know what to do with myself. I feel for you!!

Liza said...

My oldest niece will go away to college next year while her middle sister starts high school and her youngest sister starts kindergarden. I know I will cry as I send stuff to Oldest in college. She was the first baby in our family and I even took her to my dorm to babysit when I was in college(mom and dad needed a date night). We have always been very close and she has picked a school that is too far away from me.

Betina Krahn said...

Michele, I'm lighting a candle for you, sweetie. I know that when my youngest left I felt bereft and like some of the light had left my life. But at the same time, I wanted him launched and on his own so I wouldn't have to worry about every little thing he did or didn't do.

Tears, yeah. Lots of them. But straight away you begin to forge a new relationship with them, one where you're both "people" instead of mom and kid. And that's exciting.

Your glowing pride and joy in him is evident in every letter of this post. And well deserved! He's a really handsome and thoughtful young man. The photo is wonderful!

Get the tears out and treat yourself and the hubby to something wonderful, yeah, like that vacation to Paris. Or a new hairstyle. Or a new computer and some additional book shelves for the room he's left behind. Just keep in mind that they DO come home again. . . for holidays and break-up support and first job and "just until the wedding."

You still have a lot to look forward to, Michele. But it doesn't hurt to look back with happiness on all you've accomplished as a Mom.

Debra Dixon said...

Oh, Michele--

I'm soo soo sorry/happy to see "Bob" is moving on with the life you taught him to want.

My son is an only child. I thought I was fine with him going off to college and living in the dorm. He wasn't that far away. But I was overwhelmed with a deep sadness once the deed was done.

Unbeknownst to me, my sadness was so obvious that my husband called my son at school and explained it to him. Which then explained the seeming random phone calls and "check-ins" I got from my son. LOL!

It gets better. Hang in there.

Playground Monitor said...

Betina, I love that "people" relationship that develops with grown children. And thank goodness for instant messaging and email. That kept me in touch with both boys without running up a $400 a month phone bill like one of my friends did.

lois greiman said...

Michele, my poor emotionless little bunny, you made me cry. What happened to the tough little soldier I know...the one who can't tolerate hugs even from people she really me? :) I wish I could post the picture of Bob and Tara when they were tiny and still willing to dress up as Muskateer and Maiden for our book signings. Those were the days aye? When we were the center of their universe. You know I went through about four years of hell when Justin left me. Holy cow, that was so much worse than I thought it would be, but I see him almost every morning again now that he's done with his under graduate program. We have breakfast together on the porch when the day is still fresh and he's just as funny and wonderful and himself as ever.

May you come to the far side of this unscathed. There are some good parts to the growing up process; I now have time to show horses again. Wanna join me?

Don't even answer that.

Michele Hauf said...

Okay, I won't answer that one, Lois. ;-) Our kids have grown up at the same time. I know we share the same woes and abiding love for them.

You ladies are making me cry more! But I know it'll all be good. Eventually.

Barbara Samuel said...

Oh, that's a touching post! They hold our hearts, right there in the palm of our hands. The world can only be okay if they're okay.

It does get easier. Mine have been moved out for awhile now, and I have to say I have learned to enjoy the freedom. It will get easier, I promise.

But you want things to do this fall. Get out of the house more. Make plans with friends. When you get into a loop where you feel just wretched, that's the time to get out and go see somebody or to a movie or even go for a walk.

There is always the puppy/kitten answer, too. While they can't replace the kid who is off to college, they can bring a lot of happiness into that void.

Frank said...

Wow, Michele--we've got about ten years before we have to do that for the first time, and I can't imagine doing it yet! There's just so much between now and then that we need to get through that I can't even fathom what it will look like when we get to that point... Best wishes to you and your family with this big milestone!

--flchen1 (posting from my husband's account)

Cindy Gerard said...

As you can see, Michele, any mother with a son has been where you are now. When our ONLY child left for college many years ago, we, too thought we were ready - until the day we had him all packed up and were following his car out the drive. My DH and I looked at each other and burst into tears. We did that A LOT during the next few weeks. We'd see something that made us think of all those years he was always here and it would break our hearts. Then he came home a couple of years later. We cried again. then he left. We rejoiced. then he came home. We cried. MANY years later, we are so thrilled he is an independent, successful family man who now brings his babies home for us to love on. We cry when they leave too :o)
It will get better. i promise

Joyce said...

It's very hard to let go. I wanted to cry but I knew how happy and excited he was to go to college, so the tears came as we drove away. That hollow feeling in my chest stayed for quite awhile but it eventually eased up.