Our son will pass a milestone this week when he returns for his final semester of college. It will be the last time he leaves home as a student. The next time he walks through the door he will do so as a graduate. We have no plans to send him off with any special ceremony — just a hug and wave goodbye as he travels back to the last months of his college life.
But as his mom, I am marking the occasion with a good, long look at his baby book. I turn to the page documenting his first day in kindergarten, remembering that morning with complete clarity. What is striking to me is how, despite the passage of 17 years and the obvious transformation of our once-little boy into the man he is now, I feel unchanged, emotionally, as his mom. Here is what I feel:
I’m so proud of him. I’m excited/nervous for what's ahead. I pray for his safety and health. His happiness makes my life joyful.
I could have written those words just as easily years ago, holding his hand, walking him into the classroom for his very first day of school.
In four months, our son will graduate. (O.K., I’m knocking on wood!) We have paid the last tuition bill and have booked hotel reservations for the night before the ceremony. Our extended family will be there (again, that is the sound of wood) for graduation at his New England college. Onto the grassy quad, the tents, the stage, we will add our own congratulatory, to-be-determined, flourish.
College graduation is a moment in family life that parents dream of. Like a wedding, a first grandchild. A thrilling, emotional high-point, an adult version of the first day of kindergarten.
But today, as he packs up from being home for a month, I am remembering that little boy whose feet dangled while he posed for a photo on the bench in the backyard next to his dad. We still have the bench. Maybe he will indulge me for a quick picture so I can remember the day he passed the milestone and kept going.