Monday, May 12, 2008

The Weight on My Heart

Yesterday, my husband brought me a tray with breakfast in bed to kick off Mother’s Day. As he handed over a box of tissues, he knocked down a glass of water, which flew all over me and the bed and gave me a good soaking. We laughed and laughed.

I’m so lucky to be married to a man I can laugh with. I thought to myself as we cleaned up the mess that I was smart to marry my best friend…after all in about 90 days, it will just be David and me in the house. (Plus the dogs.) Our son, our only child, will go off to college. There’s a heaviness in my heart, a weight that presses down, squeezing and hurting. It’s the weight of sorrow, of knowing my life as a mother is coming to another phase, one of being separated—perhaps forever—from my child. I’ve heard tales of boys who go off to school, find their wives, and don’t come home. And I get this lump in my throat which competes for space with my breath.

But it’s all good. It’s all right.

David and I and Michael have been a threesome for nearly 19 years now. We’ve traveled the world, starting with a trip to Paris when he was 22 months. Then to Cairo when he was 10. Living in the UK, and traveling for 6 weeks in Europe when he was 11. We raised our boy to be a citizen of the world. Did I really think he’d stay within driving distance? No.

The school he’ll attend is a perfect match for him. He’s going to University of Miami in Florida and he’ll study to be a civil engineer. He told us he plans to wear cargo shorts, tee-shirts and sandals every day. He’s asked for a surf board for his graduation gift. He’ll move into his dorm the same week our niece, Lexie, is having her baby, a little boy, so he can learn to change diapers. (We’ve assured him that babies are “chick magnets” for college girls. He’s skeptical….)

It’s all good. So why does this feel like the saddest Mother’s Day I’ve ever had?


Linda O. Johnston said...

I empathize, Joanna. I have 2 sons, both adults now, and I recall how hard it was when one, then the other, started college in other towns. Because of their love for Southern California, I assumed they'd come back, and they did, although my younger son stayed a couple of hours away, in San Diego, to live near the beach. At least he comes back often, sometimes to housesit for us when we travel, and often to visit with us. My older son loves L.A., but when he received his MBA last year his ideal job wasn't in this area but in Chicago. And now he's getting married there, to a delightful young lady, but that's another phase of motherhood I'm about to undertake. But I'm happy for both of them, that they're able to enjoy their lives, and we see them whenever possible.
I wish you all the best with your new life phase with your son!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I know it's good for all of us, and especially since I'll have a book to promote...but still...

Kathryn Lilley said...

I totally understand, Joanna! My daughter is 19 and starting as a senior in college this fall, so she's been away for a few years. She called me from NC yesterday and said she'd gone out to brunch and was surrounded by people with their Moms, and she felt really sad we weren't together. So did I! But my real joy in life is that she is healthy, happy and pursuing her goals, which is our ultimate jobs as Moms! But we miss 'em like heck all the same. Happy Day after Mother's Day!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I know, I know. I raised him so he was a citizen of the world. So he loved the ocean. And what happens? He heads for the sea. I guess I've been too good at my job!

Camille Minichino said...

What do I know? I'm not a mother.

But I've been teaching adults, college and beyond, since 1962, and I go through something similar with every graduating class. The better we are at mothering, or teaching, the more likely the young ones will take off and do well, seemingly without us.

Yesterday I had "Mother's Day" calls from a few special students who consider whatever I did for them important enough for that call, and for that I feel very blessed.

If I know you Joanna, you already have a list of "20 tips for enjoying your husband after your son has left for college!"

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hmm. I think my husband would be happy to have me help him "road test" all those tips!