It’s official. No more tuition payments, no more school bureaucracies. My youngest son is graduating from college. My husband and I are so proud of him. He’s become a man who’s responsible and self-sufficient as well as creative and fun-loving. His college graduation marks the end of an era for all of us.
As he goes forward to meet his future, I will step back from active mothering.
Admittedly, he hasn’t needed much day-to-day mothering lately. I haven’t made his lunches, checked his homework, done his laundry, driven him to soccer, or nursed him through strep throat in a long while. He’s been living with friends for the past few years, so my role was already limited.
But mothering is so much more than physical caretaking. When he moved out, I shared his excitement about setting up his own kitchen. He and I have always loved to cook, so I knew how much it mattered to him to make the space his own.
Although I was secretly worried about having him so far away, I encouraged him to study in Spain, because I knew how much he would learn—about other cultures and about himself. When we visited Sevilla and saw that he was thriving, I was glad I had set aside my concerns.
As he began focusing on possible careers, we talked about what kinds of work would be satisfying and what would allow him to make the most of his abilities. I urged him to research his career paths thoroughly so he would know what he was getting into.
Now he’s launched. That was always the goal, but still, it feels odd to be at this juncture.
I’ll miss his school concerts, games, and the conversations we had as he discussed his ideas for term papers. Not being needed in those classic ways is bittersweet. He still needs my love and support, but not my supervision or protection. Now our interactions can be those of adults who enjoy many of the same things. He may ask for our advice occasionally, but he doesn’t have to. That’s as it should be.
When he went off to college, my husband and I started back down the path toward coupledom—cooking meals for two and making plans without considering our sons’ schedules. It’s been fun.
As I go forward to meet my new life, I can’t help looking back over my shoulder at what I’m leaving behind.
I enjoyed raising him and his older brother, so although I’m proud of them, I’m also a little sad to see the official end of this phase. I expect I’ll also enjoy what comes next—living in the carefree space between childrearing and grandparenting. Our time is our own. We can be spontaneous again.