The Water of Their Lives

Years ago I resigned myself to the fact my sons would never live as adults in the town they were raised. I innately knew when I moved back to my hometown with my two young sons my boys would leave this Midwestern burg as soon as they could. Some of this was based on their connection to Chicago, where their dad lived. Chicago was the bright light, the lure of fun and hot dogs and major league sports. Our little town could never compete. I also knew both of my children needed more than what this town offered. While I returned to the safety net of my youth, they would flee it. I encouraged them to look beyond the confines of their upbringing to explore the world. I wanted them to live a life of wonder.

You see, years ago I did the same thing. I donned my gypsy shoes and went on to live in a few big cities where I had grand experiences I never would have dreamed of if I had stayed in my hometown. I knew my boys would want similar adventures, so I let them go.

My oldest joined the Navy and saw the world, or at least the Pacific. After finding his true love, he and his fiancé just recently moved to the Bay Area. He now drives and soon hopes to protect the steep streets in this shimmering city of fog, golden bridges, and breathtaking landscapes.

My youngest graduated college in May, and quickly found his dream job down in Dallas. My independent young man will have no trouble navigating the crazy expressways of this large metropolitan area. He may not stay there forever; this one has his mom’s gypsy soul, but I know he will be able to unpack his bag wherever he lands.

I knew in my heart these boys of mine would leave me. The world is a big, wide, wonderful jar of magnificent colors of gum balls, and I want them to taste every flavor. It’s just I am still their mother. I worry. I pray for their safety. I wish them happiness and success, even though I know they will make mistakes, possibly even huge ones. I miss the daily interaction that comes with raising my children. I sometimes envy my friends whose adult children live close to them. My heart will tug at what I don’t have, but then I pull back. Their lives are not my life. Mine is sweet, just not the same.

We were able to spend some time with my boys last week on a trip out West. It was short, precious, and full of surprises, but when I went to hug them goodbye my heart ached. How could I let them go? How could I allow them to cross the street without me there holding their hands? How could I say goodbye without really meaning it? These are questions that may never really be answered. All I know is that I raised these boys to fly....and now they are out there soaring among giants.

“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them.
They move on. They move away.
The moments that used to define them are covered by
moments of their own accomplishments.
It is not until much later, that
children understand;
their stories and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories
of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones,
beneath the water of their lives.”
-Paulo Coelho