This weekend I visited my oldest son at his college. I haven’t seen him since he left for the semester in January, which is the longest separation we have ever had. We took him and his roommates out to lunch then did a little shopping. Our time was limited because he had other things to do…weight training, baseball practice, studying.
When we said our goodbyes and I gave my son a hug, it was the first time that I felt that he no longer belonged to me. I realized in that moment, that he is changing, growing, becoming his own person. A man with his own plans for his future, with his own agenda, his own choices.
It was a bittersweet moment. As a mom, I have focused my life on raising my children to become independent, to follow their dreams, to charter their own course, but now that it has actually come to pass I feel a sense of loss. Our relationship has shifted, permanently.
I am reminded of the beginning of a poem by Khalil Gibran in The Prophet…
Your children are not your children
They are the son’s and daughters of Life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you…
This reminds me that my son was never really mine. He was lent to me to keep for a time. To raise, to care for, and finally, to set free. So I will embrace this shift, accept my new role in his life, and hope that as he continues to spread his wings and fly he will take his laundry with him.