My son, Bailey, is 21 and for the past few years, he’s been at that awkward stage where he’s trying to transition from child to adult. I’m at an awkward stage, too. I want him to be an adult, but I don’t exactly want him to grow up.
He felt he needed to get away and bailed out immediately before Christmas—and by immediately, I mean on Christmas Eve. He flew to Maryland, where we had lived for many years, and he stayed until the first of March.
When he came home, he announced it was to pack and tie up loose ends so he could move back to Maryland. He has friends there, he says, and a great support system. So why is it so hard to watch him leave?
We’ve always been close, but his becoming an adult, and these specific events, have put a strain on our relationship. He doesn’t share things with me like he used to and I feel locked out of his life.
He’s trying to negotiate a new relationship where we are adults out of our old relationship in which he is my child and I was perfecly content to be his mother. There have been some pretty emotional arguments lately. It might be irrational, but I feel like when he leaves, I’ll never see him again.
He says I stress him out. I say it’s mutual.
So I’m in town for the weekend, his last weekend home before the big move. I have to be honest; I wasn’t sure I wanted to come. Aside from the practical reason of the 6 hours in the car could have been put to much better use in catching up on the homework I neglected during the illness I’m not yet quite over, I really just didn’t want to spend a weekend fighting.
Besides, I’m really despondent about what our relationship has become—contentious and loud—we’ve always been loud—but now we’re loud in a bad way.
This evening a friend of his came over. The house is a disaster and there’s no place to sit, so we all sat on my king-sized bed and regaled him with years and years worth of crazy hockey stories. And we laughed—loud in a good way again.
I realize what he likely knew already—these are just growing pains. It’s tough to be the Mom. It’s hard to watch your son move outside of your sphere of influence, especially when you’re not 100% confident that you’ve taught him everything he needs to know about being an adult.
Really, I know I haven’t taught him everything. Intellectually, I understand there are things he has to learn on his own, but that doesn’t make it any easier when I know he’s going to make mistakes and get hurt and I’m going to be too far away to be much help.
So off he goes into the uncertainty of a new, independent life. I’m not confident he’s ready—he’s probably not either—but I’m certain he’ll figure it out.
More importantly, I’m confident that along with his posters and clothing and whatever other possessions he’s taking with him, he’s taking all of these fantastic memories—the Shark Sleepover at the National Aquarium, Spy School at the International Spy Museum, dinner at Olie Kolzig’s house, LegoLand, and countless hockey games and road trips—all the things we did together that made his childhood memorable.
I’m proud of the man he is becoming. He’s considerate and kind, learning French and fluent in sarcasm, and as goofy as he ever was.
I think he’s got this.
Photo courtesy of the author.