My husband removed the training wheels from the bike whose wheels were no bigger than a dinner plate, and I stood in the window knowing he was the youngest, most athletic, brilliant child to accomplish such a feat. Then he pedaled to the end of the cul-de-sac--alone--and I lost sight of him. I felt my heart disappear into my ankles as I realized this was his first giant leap into his own world where he would no longer need me. It was a terrifying thought.
The day I let go of his chubby little fingers and left him to a stranger to teach him the liberating world of words and a kaleidoscope of colors, the difference between class time and recess, and to learn to socialize with other little people, I had to redo my makeup by the time I drove to work. With the waterfall flowing down my cheeks and my eyes a blur, I don’t know how I got there.
Three days before he was to start Middle School, I found him crying into his pillow instead of dreaming of a new adventure in a bigger school. I had to turn away...I knew what he was thinking, as I’d been there myself. Sometimes the scariest monsters don’t live under your bed...they live between what you know and are comfortable with and the door that opens to an unknown place that feels bigger than life. When I sucked in my breath, dried my own tears, I tried my best to convince him in a few days he would be just fine, and maybe...just maybe...he would meet a new friend that would become his best friend ever. He did, and he did.
Bursting with pride once again, I watched my little boy become a young man with a mind of his own when he informed his father and I he no longer wanted to play baseball. He was good. Very good. And we’d pushed him to be even better. But the baseball diamond wasn’t his dream. It was ours. Yet, he had the courage to stand up to us and find his own way. He turned from baseball, and became a leader, mentor, peer counselor and a fierce friend with solid morals, dynamic self-confidence, and a quirky sense of humor. And when they called his name at high school graduation as the recipient of several scholarships to college, I was speechless...because I knew from experience, that this wasn’t the last step my son would take that would make me so proud it would bring me to tears.
Life comes at you hard sometimes, and when my baby called one night during his senior year at Arizona State and said he was struggling, we dropped everything and left for Tempe. I saw my little boy, now a man, in the throes of anxiety attacks. My insides hurled themselves upside down and my heart wept while I maintained strength I didn’t know I had to help him. We found the help we needed, and my baby mended, and still found the fortitude to pull himself up out of a bleak darkness and find the light, his strength and his smile. His boisterous laughter once again rang out.
On May 3, 2012, my son’s name lit up the jumbo-tron at Wells Fargo Arena, and his name was called to receive his Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University. Several times that day, I caught myself thinking this was it...his crowning achievement. Again, I was wrong. This is merely the beginning. I have no doubt he will succeed wherever his journey takes him. Graduation isn’t the end...it’s the beginning.
My son will begin his dream on August 22, 2012 as an intern for Disney. In California. Without me. Without his father. And he’ll be okay. I just have to let go of his hand one more time. This time though, I know it’s the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do.
Congratulations, Adam--you’ve grown into a fine young man. But remember one thing--though wrinkles define the roadmap of my face, what little hair I have left becomes silver, and my head is filled with a few cobwebs--you will always be my baby. I love you, son.
Until next time--
Happy Reading, Happy Writing,