The boys bang on my hotel room door.
And the moment I have been dreading has arrived.
I try to be matter of fact.
“I think it’s too late for breakfast, so we will have to get something to eat. There’s a Carl’s Jr. next door. Will that work?”
I don’t really need breakfast,” says Isaiah’s roommate. My son, who never eats breakfast (and yes, I do understand the benefits of breakfast) concurs.
“Ok, well then, let’s just get gas and we’ll look at the map and get you guys on the road.”
We stand in the hotel parking lot. I am trying to be strong, but my shaking voice and the tears welling up reveal my true feelings.
“Give me a hug,” says my never demonstrative son.
I wrap my arms around him, smell that man smell I have loved for the past ten years one last time. “I can do this, Miss Wilcox, I just need you to believe in me.”
I assure him that I do believe in him. Remind him one last time I love him. Tell him how much I have loved being his mom. Remind him to stay true to his dreams. And then let go.
We review the map. In a form characteristic of our life, we first review the map to Glendale. I circle points along the way, about every hundred miles for them to call me and check in. And then Roommate says, “is that the same as this map?” and produces the map my brother-in-law printed out. And of course the maps don’t match, because the boys are going to spend the weekend at his condo in Scottsdale, which evidently is on a slightly different road then Glendale. And we have to start all over. Isaiah is confused, but Roommate, who doesn’t have a driver’s license and will navigate, seems clear.
After transferring a few boxes of dishes and a blender from my car to theirs, we start our engines and fill the gas tanks. The no-breakfast boys load up on snacks at the gas station (every teenager eats Snickers bars for breakfast, right?), I buy some Advil to ease the headache that starts in the back of my neck and climbs over the top of my head to my forehead, and we pull out.
The plan is that the boys will follow me five miles down the road, I will get them onto the next highway, and then I will pull off at the first exit, and they will keep going.
The freeway is a typical urban freeway, with lanes that exit, and enter. Somehow, Isaiah is in the wrong lane, and has to make a quick dash in front of me to get onto Interstate 40 to Gallup.
And there he is, no longer following as, he has for the past five hundred miles, but instead, a couple of cars in front of me.
And I know he is ready to go. He doesn’t need me anymore.
I call to say one last goodbye.
We are in a major construction zone, traffic is heavy and Isaiah is driving
“You are on the right road now. You stay on this for 233 miles. You good to go?”
Roommate assures me that they are.
I remind him to tell Isaiah to call in a little while.
He says he will.
And then I pull off, turn around, and head for home.
And my baby leaves the nest and flies.
Nice job! It's hard to let go, but then again, it's good to know you've done your job.
Such a happy and sad time. Of course he can do this! And of course you are not finished being his mom. I am learning as both a mother and a daughter, that parenting is a lifelong thing. Can't wait to hear how he is doing:-)
Carol, reading this brings a lump to my throat. For any parent who has sent a child to college or elsewhere away from them, your slice rings quite true. Thanks for such a beautiful piece.
Beautifully said, Carol. I got a lump in my throat when Isaiah dashed in front, then you pulled off to turn around. What a real-life metaphor for growing up, letting go. I hope he's having a terrific first few days! And here's a hug for Mom!
You are a wonderful mother!! You have raised your son right! Because what you have taught him, he will make the right decisions. Have faith!
You are on the right road now. You stay on this for 233 miles. You good to go?
So much Mother's love in those lines! You captured this bittersweet moment perfectly.
I love when he says
“Give me a hug,” says my never demonstrative son.
And he did and does and will forever need you...maybe not on this trip. I'm wondering if you turned up your worship tunes and started crying on the way home. xo nanc
I know some day I will walk in your shoes! You were very brave! This had to be so hard. Thanks for sharing this slice!
My heart is sinking for you and singing for your Isaiah. What a tough and wonderful transitional time.
Like Jaana said, "have faith."
I love the way your non-demonstrative son asks for a hug, knowing what you need and probably knowing what he needs, ytoo. I love the way you put it all put there, and I love the you guide him just as much as he needs. I think you have done your job well. :-)
I want to cry! So beautiful. That old addage that "to be a mother is to have your heart walk around outside of your body" could not be more clearly demonstrated. Good luck adjusting to the change.
Train up a child, right? Blessings to you friend.
What a wonderful - tear invoking - post! I hold tight to the Biblical message that parents are to give their child roots AND wings. Both can be challenging!
Carol, I don't know you or your sons except through these posts and I was getting tears in my eyes reading this. So much mother's love coming through.
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