Sunday, June 8, 2008

He's on the road -- again

As I type this I am just in a puddle, just minutes ago having said good-bye to my oldest son who is on his way back up to the northwest. He's been home for the past three weeks -- graduating high school, receiving his Eagle Scout Award, fixing computers for friends and family, and filling our house with his usual whirlwind of activity. I miss him already. I've become used to saying good-bye to him, knowing that it will be a few weeks, or even eight weeks at the most, until he's home again. He's traveled to Japan twice and Europe once. But this time, it is likely that we won't see him until Christmas. Frequent flier miles stretch only so far, and it gets expensive flying back and forth. We plan to cash in some miles at Thanksgiving so the rest of us can go and visit him, and see the beautiful Seattle area. But, for now, I need to get used to the household again, minus my oldest boy. When I first laid eyes on him, he was three weeks old. He big, round brown eyes held my gaze intently. The others in the room commented on how he "only has eyes for his mom." It was love at first sight for me. And in the years that follow, he has gone through life with that same straight-forward sense of purpose. Nothing has held him back. I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for the way he would stride into new situations, confident and no-holds barred. While I was frantically flipping through books on "Raising Your Spirited Child," and "Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child", he was charging on, charming the rest of the world and drinking up life through a wide array of experiences -- ham radio, piano, fencing, scouting, and hanging out at the library and reading everything he could get his hands on. He started his first of what would be many businesses in fourth grade when he bought the materials to make "button badges" for the school elections. He was soon taking orders and selling his wares. (And, I'm proud to say, he has never been without a job since. Which might be part of the reason he was voted "Most Likely to Become a Billionaire" for his senior class.) Meanwhile, I was flailing about, trying to get him to conform to "behaving" as I thought he should. Imagine my surprise when, with the kindest of intentions, he pointed out a book at the bookstore one day and suggested it might be helpful to both of us: "How to Behave So Your Kids Will, Too." I was speechless. My psychiatrist friend told me, gently, "He's right. It's an excellent book." I threw the books aside. I said to my mother, "I just don't know what to do for him sometimes. He is so self sufficent, so independent." Her response was, "The best thing you can do for him, the best gift you can give him, is to let him be who he is." And that advice was the best I've ever received as a parent. Oh, how I wish she could see him now! So, this morning he loaded up his Mazda MX6. Boxes fill the trunk and half of the back seat. There will just enough room for Joe and his two friends, Liz and Sam, who will be driving the 1,800 miles with him. They're all up for an adventure. Once they get up there, the girls will stay for a week and then fly back. They're all good kids and part of me envies them. Road trips were some of the best times I had with my friends when I was in college. Once he gets settled in to the house he is renting with two other friends, he'll start his summer internship and an on-campus job. Thank goodness for cell phones and e-mail. I can't wait to see where his journey takes him. Where he lands will be anyone's guess. But I know for sure he will land on his feet.

14 comments:

Xandra said...

Oh Karen! My heart aches for you! I just got my baby back home, and yours is leaving....

This post helped me to see something very important. I need to let my kids be who they are. I need to stop trying to make them conform to who I am, or who their dad is, but let them be Nathan and Gracie.

I'll be praying for you in the coming weeks as you get used to his absence and look forward to your reunion.

Xandra

Judy said...

What a beautiful post, Karen!

I'm SO glad to have my computer back. I miss reading about your family.

Congratulations to your 'boy' and you, too!

Lynne said...

Your Joe will do just fine! I'm sure you're so very proud of him - as well you should be.

BClark said...

What a super life you have given this wonderful child. What a wonderful young man he is, it will be interesting to see where his road leads. Enjoy him, be glad you gave him the wings to fly.

Barbara

Kim said...

What a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes and I haven't even met the young man. There is nothing sweeter than a mother's love and pride in her children! It sounds like Joe is going to have a great time and is a great kid! I feel your pain and melancholy, dear friend. My own kiddo is only 2 hours away but because of his school and work schedule, I don't see him very often either and our house is surely different without his unique personality mixed up in the fray!
*hugs and a smile*
Kim

Judith said...

I so understand how difficult it is to let them take the next step of their lives. But rest well in knowing you helped prepare him well. The pride you must have in your young man must fill to overflowing.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

What a wonderful post, such a tribute to your oldest :) You know, awesome kids have one thing in common - awesome parents!

Hope you adjust fairly quickly to him being gone. Wow, it's SUCH a long time till Christmas, I certainly hope something works out that he'll get to come home before that. I know you'll miss him terribly.

Hang in there :)

Bill said...

I started to say that he's lucky to have you for a mom.
Then I started to say that you're lucky to have him for a son.
Then I realized that luck has nothing to do with it because God brought you all together.

gail@more than a song said...

Such a nice post Karen! I know it's so hard to have him gone and deal with all the changes, he'll do good and so will you.
It sounds like y'all have had a great few weeks with lots of memories! Such fun times.

Boomeyers said...

I hope I can speak of my own kids the same way in a few years! You should be proud, he sounds like an awesome kid!

Scrappy Kay said...

Karen, your post brought many tears to my eyes. What a wonderful Mom you are, Karen, to have inspired and encouraged your son to be all that he is - no holds barred!

Best wishes to your whole family. I know you will all continue to grow in love - I can feel it so strongly in your words.

Jen said...

Something about us momma's. I hope things are getting easier....enjoy the ones still at home...those babies will be flying the nest sooner than you think gal. Have a glass of wine on th back porch and count your blessings...if I lived close I would join you. Hugs from Ky.

Chappyswife said...

Karen, this is beautifully written. Your oldest reminds me of my oldest, very independent, so this scares me. I have a hard time letting go.

Becky said...

Congratulations to your fine-looking graduate. He is on the right road for sure. What a blessing to have a mama that encourages him to find his wings.