Thursday, May 26, 2011

Learning to Let Go...

True..this is a little off the path for this blog. But I tend to write about what I know and what I'm feeling. And although this is primarily a "genealogy" type blog... I think it entirely appropriate to include this post about my son as he is the next generation of my own genealogy. And I'm not sure if the men who read this will understand, but I know that every mother out there will...

It's that time of year. Invitations, cap and gown, senior portraits...the whole drill. High Schools all over the country are having their commencement services and graduating a whole new crop of young adults out into the big world. A ritual that happens every year at this time, but the difference for me is that THIS of those wearing a mortarboard will be my son. Samuel J. Matthew Burton is scheduled to graduate from Pikeville High School on Sunday. Am I proud? Of course! Am I happy for him? You bet I am! Am I also a little nostalgic and sad? Yeah, that too.

Like so many women who find themselves where I am, I have conflicting feelings. The fact that I've read that experts say that such feelings are perfectly normal helps a little but doesn't keep the sadness from assailing me at odd when I'm in the laundry room folding socks.

It's the end of an era. It's my official "retirement" as full-time Mom. I'm being reassigned to "part-time" consultant now. I'm not sure I was ready to give up my key to the washroom. But here it is...time. The problem, just as it would be with any retirement, is finding who I am outside of this job.

I've always said that being Sam's mom was the greatest thing, by far, that I have ever done. I tried not to take any of the days for granted. Having waited twelve years for him to come along after we were married, perhaps his dad and I appreciated the little things of being parents even more. Story hour, little league, homework, sleep aways, bullies, grades, first loves, lost teeth, braces, skinned knees, back-talk, successes, failures, ...we shared them all with him.

And we shared the most painful parts of life as well...the loss of his grandfathers, and a grandmother, as well as our own divorce. Later came our individual remarriages. Suddenly, there were step-brothers and sisters to deal with and a change of school and address. So yes, he's been through a lot..and so have we. Sometimes it felt as if we were on a boat in the rapids in rough water and going over the falls. Sometimes we didn't know if we'd make it through. But by the sheer grace of God, we've all come out on the other side intact and sane for the most part.

The one thing that has remained constant is the love I have for him. Even during the difficult years. Perhaps, ESPECIALLY during the difficult years. And now it's time. I remember when he was a baby and he began walking, and later when he learned to ride a bike and I held my breath sure that he was going to smash headlong into something (which he did on numerous occasions). I remember when he got his driver's license and I held my breath again. (Your prayer life takes on new meaning around that time. )

I've been there through all the major events in his life..since his first breath til now. I was always there, holding a hand, offering a word of encouragement, or stern disapproval if it was called for. And now it's time for a new event in his life. Only this time, he will take the steps without me. Because it's time. Oh, I'll be there. But it is time that I deliberately take a step BACK (when my heart desparately wants to run forward and try to clear a path for him as I have always done). But it's time. Time for me to step back and watch while he clears the path for himself.

Oh, it's gonna be hard. Perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done. This doing nothing and giving him room and time to do for himself. Watching him fall down at times. Watching him get hurt at times and curbing the urge to run to him or to bash whoever is responsible. But it's time. Time to let go and let the life that God gave him.

So here I am... in the middle of my own genealogy. A daughter with an aging mother. A mother with an emerging son. A woman who's a little lost in the middle, trying to figure out what 50 is supposed to look like and what and who she is now that she's entering full-time Mom retirement.

And I'll admit it. I'm a little scared. Me. The woman who was always fearless. It's humbling to go from the SuperMom with a cape who could always leap tall buildings to just a middle-aged woman who's hanging out in a phone booth hoping her son will call from college. (sigh).

And so they come. These feelings. Feelings of pride and happiness. Feelings of a job well done and a rest well-earned. And then sometimes on their heels are the feelings of loss, and grief at the knowledge of the days that won't come again, of the change that's in the air. Of the bewilderment as to who I am now that I'm no longer in the Corporate Office of Mom Central.

So I will pack up the lectures. I'll put the scoldings in a box. I'll clean out my desk drawer of "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times" and I'll donate my "If everyone else were ..." speech to a local charity. I'll take one last look around the office and again hear the sweet echoes of a little voice and chubby hands bringing me weeds for flowers. But I won't cry. Because I know that with God's help, I've done good work here. I've accomplished the launching of a young man with so much promise and life to give this world. While here, I've left a legacy of the best kind, and that's something I can be proud of.

And so I pick up the last of my things and grab my jacket and head toward the door to my new position of Consultant Mom and Fabulous woman over 50. And I won't hesitate as I turn out the light and lock the door. Because it's time.


  1. Bravo! So well said and represents so many parents who I'm sure feel the same way. Perfectly appropriate for geneaology and the commentary on changing motherhood roles and the self-realization of being a daughter and a mother really make the connection to generations of family. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  2. Beautifully said! Many of us have made the transition - Consultant Mom or Mom in Reserve (and occasionally back on Active Duty). There's great beauty and enormous pride when you see them launch themselves into the world. Congratulations to you both.