A story of snails and puppy dog tails

In a few short weeks, my little boy, who now towers over me at 6′ 3,” will head off to college. How can that be? Just yesterday, I was wiping his bottom and bandaging his bruised knees. I was bribing him with Subway in the mall so that he would stop zipping by in his roller shoes and put on the little vintage outfit with bow tie the photographer wanted him to wear. I was reading every Harry Potter book in the series to him as he lay in bed at night and begged, “Just one more chapter, mom, please, please.”

The soon-to-be-college student who posed for a picture in bowtie after his mom bribed him with Subway.

The soon-to-be-college student, who posed for a picture in bowtie, after his mom bribed him with a Subway sandwich.

From the time your kids are small, everyone tells you to enjoy it because childhood goes fast. They aren’t lying. It does go fast.

I remember when that same little boy went off to kindergarten 13 years ago. His mother was a wee bit worried. I wrote in my journal:

“What if the other kids or teachers aren’t kind to him? What if he gets lost or can’t find his classroom, or can’t get on the right bus home? What if he hates school?”

Thankfully, none of those imaginings came to pass. The other children did treat him well, he did make friends and yes, he did find his way home from school. He loved learning, maintaining near perfect attendance all 12 years and graduating with a 4.0. and a strong passion for computer coding.

Spinning
Still, it is in moments like these, when the old wheel of life takes another spin, that I pause and reflect. Life is ever-changing and this moment — our now — will never be quite the same. I can’t ever go back and reclaim that inquisitive little boy who asked me at all hours of the day, “What time is it in Japan right now, mom?” He no longer wants to snuggle on my lap as I sing made up nursery rhymes about the lawn mower in the garage. And more often than not these days, he’s instructing me on what cell phone to buy, where to get free movies, what songs are popular and the best places to grab a cheeseburger.

As he packs his bags to leave home, I have new concerns: Will his roommates be nice and treat him well? Will he like his classes? Find a girlfriend? Avoid serious drinking and drugs? Have fun? Graduate?

I hope in five years I am writing another blog post talking about his many successes. But there are no guarantees.

As I wrote in my journal so long ago, “It is time for him to begin this new phase in life — a phase where mom and dad can’t be by his side, watching and protecting. I must put my faith in the kindness of strangers and hope that they treat him well. And although I know what is happening is right and good, I can’t help but shed a tear for what I must lose in the process. And I know that I will shed those tears every time he takes these steps.”

And so my smile remains fixed in place, but those tears are not far away.

Farewell, my son. May God bless you on your journey through college.

6 Comments

  1. lynn shirk

    Loved this!! It is so hard to let go. The worries just get bigger. Hopefully we have set a good foundation and the rest is up to them.

    • amandauhl

      I know Lynn. Letting go is the hardest part. I read this post to him last night and was in tears by the end of it. It’s a happy time really but can’t help but get emotional.

  2. Rachel Holbrook

    I enjoyed this post, but I was getting awfully close to weepy. My oldest daughter just turned 13 . It feels like her childhood is blowing by and college is just around the corner!
    Good luck to you as you enter this new phase with your son!

    • amandauhl

      Thirteen is a great age Rachel — I have a 15 and 12 year old too. Enjoy these teen years because as we well know…they go by so fast. I think I saw you have 6 kids..wow!

  3. Barb Heintz

    Wonderful post, Amanda. So many of us have gone through these feelings. Though I couldn’t have described it so eliquently. I remember at graduation, I cried all day. My little boy was no more. Time to let him grow into a man. Even at his curent age, which is far past 18, there is still much of my little boy’s heart that shows through.

    • amandauhl

      Thanks Barb. It is sad to let them go but a happy time, too, since they get to spread their wings. He is my oldest so I still have kids at home. I think it will be really hard when the last one goes.

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