I think that as people we often find ways to get in the way of our happiness and blame it on self preservation. I get it, no one wants to be hurt. But when you’re living on the sidelines, how happy can you be as a spectator?
I’ve never been the type to shy away from profound growth and goals. I know what it’s like to work overnight, go to college on no sleep, maintain a high GPA and then come home to a wild toddler needing all of your attention. In the trenches of it all, it felt insurmountable but when I walked across the stage and became a first generation college graduate. Those years of hard work seemed minute in comparison to the pride I garnered for myself. I did that. I can do anything. Everything I have ever done has been for my son. So long ago I was a baby raising a baby, as so many people put it. Yet here he is, not adhering to any stereotype and the greatest contribution I have made to this world so far. But what now. . .
Last fall when he started his last year of high school I went through every emotion possible. From pride to fear. I asked myself, what about me. What was my life going to become post high school. When my life and every waking second wasn’t spent taking care of the child that has grown into an incredible man. Over the months fear turned into excitement.
While I’m fully aware that being a parent is a lifelong commitment I can recognize the work I have put in. My son hasn’t, “needed,” me for some time now I just didn’t want to admit it. I have just been afraid to let him go. I guess I just didn’t want him to feel abandoned and unnoticed. It’s not for the lack of trust because he has been nothing short of perfect and honest even when the information he shares is painful. I overcompensated because no one was there to catch me growing up, I had to be my own safety net and as a result I tried to jump in and rescue him every time he was about to fail. When I was pregnant, my parents left me at the doorstep of his fathers house like the Sunday paper. Coming from those feelings of utter disbelief, I have done everything I can to make sure he never feels that pain. A few months ago he had a talk with me and the long and short of it was his request for me to loosen the reigns. He told me that he understands I don’t want him to fail but there are times I make the decision for him and never let him learn from his mistakes. He wants to make a decision and if it doesn’t workout learn how to figure out things on his own or reach out to me if he wants help. I was impressed with the maturity of his conversation and was taken aback because my job is almost done. I sat there and looked at him in admiration because he is far from the person I was at his age. I had a strained relationship with my mother and couldn’t discuss anything with her. I feared that my son would be emotionally inept as I was as a child and would cope on his own time when people weren’t around. I was afraid that I would be the negative parts of her that never heard her children, or showed up because other things took priority. I love you was a foreign concept in my home after my grandfather passed away. All of these things, my experiences as a child molded the parent I am and to my amazement I am the mother I am not because of the sum of life’s infractions but despite. Despite all I have been through I am out on the other side and I haven’t hurt him or damaged him. I’ve loved him unconditionally and he knows it. Jonathan is an incredible individual and I’m proud to be his mom. He doesn’t need me, because I have done my job and that pays for itself in leaps and bounds. He wants me to be present but he can fend for himself. He has great relationships with people and he has a bigger heart than anyone I have ever met. So while the idea of high school being over was an emotional ride before, it is now this incredible dream to see who he will become going forward. I know, he has the makings of a person that can change the world and I can no longer stand in his way.
My son in many ways has taught me how to get out of my own way. In our home we have this saying, “it’s not if, but when.” We don’t think things will work out, they always will no matter the circumstance. He has helped me resist resisting to exist. He has posed the statement, “you need to put yourself first.” For once, I am willing to. Not because it required his permission but because it includes his blessing. So while I am happy and excited for his future, I’m ready to see what this new chapter in my life brings.