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Endings and beginnings, learning to let go

November 20th, 2007 · 8 Comments

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
~ Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

My eldest son, Captain Scarlett, graduated from school last week.

It seems only yesterday I was leaving him for his first day at school. That morning where he said ‘bye Mum!’, and sat, entranced by his teacher and oblivious to his mother’s distress. I dissolved in the car park that morning, rescued by another anonymous mother, who took one look at me and gave me a big hug. She said to me – it’s either your first or your last, first day at school. I don’t know who she was, but I have always felt grateful to her for that hug, and that understanding. Her insight showed me that this wasn’t something I did alone. She showed me that mothers all feel this way when our children start that oh so thrilling (for them) and heart-wrenching (for us) journey through their schooling towards independence.

And here I am, 13 years later, at the other end of the spectrum. Reminding myself of the many who have gone before. I am not the first mother to have her son graduate – it only feels that way.

On Friday morning, as he was about to walk through the guard of honour formed by the rest of the students and teachers to ring the school bell one final time, he came and gave me a big hug – enveloping me in the bigness of him. The ratio of our sizes has swapped since that first day of school. Where he barely came up to my elbow at 5 years old, now at 17 I don’t clear his shoulder.

You have the world in the palm of your hand, take good care of it

I am proud of the man our son is becoming. But I am not totally ready to cut the strings completely. There are days I just want to stop him going anywhere – taking the carkeys from him and wrapping him in cotton wool and keeping him safe from harm. Of course, there is absolutely no chance of him allowing that! These days, if he is out with his friends at night, he’s liable to lecture ME before he leaves – “Don’t worry, Mum! Get some sleep!”

This growing children is as much a journey, as much a learning experience, for the parents as it is for the children. G jokes that we’ll get it right by the third time round. I fear that is optimistic, given that each of our children are wildly different in personality, temperament and determination.

This morning I was thinking about the passage of time. It was only yesterday – that day he started school. I am sure of it. And now, this week, I am eager to have the week done with. To be at the weekend, and going to collect Captain Scarlett from ‘Schoolies’ on the Gold Coast where he is celebrating with his mates, and 29,994 other school leavers.

I was wishing the week away, and in the process, wishing my life away. I realised how foolish that was.

This week will pass as quickly as all the other weeks have passed, whatever happens. I need this week to count as much as any other in my life.

Life is to be lived, every moment – the good, the bad and the wish-it-were-here-already moments.

I won’t waste any of those moments on wishing they were gone already.

Congratulations, my dear son. You have the world in the palm of your hand. Take good care of it, and live. Every moment.

Tags: Heart and Home · Noticing Miracles · Why Did I Have Children?

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Joh // Nov 20, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    I can really empathise with this. All of it. I have one gone and one starting the final year next year. This is a beautiful reflection on that.

  • 2 karen // Nov 20, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Joh! Thank you so much for your lovely comment, and a big warm welcome.

    Good luck with the one starting their final year next year… I guess the youngest in the family leaving school must be even more poignant and heart wrenching.

  • 3 Angela // Nov 20, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    You’ve brought tears to my eyes. My own tall, cheeky redhead has also just finished his final year at school. How did that happen??? Surely he was just starting out. How is it that he’s now ready to step out into the world? I must have blinked.

  • 4 Joanna Young // Nov 20, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Karen

    I’m with you – virtual hug from Edinburgh!

    My only child has been away at uni for 18 months now – and I still find it hard…

    But I also get to enjoy the feeling of joy, wonder (and astonishment – how did this happen?) when I watch my own tall, independent, son – as I’m sure you will too :-)

    Joanna

  • 5 Leah Maclean // Nov 21, 2007 at 7:01 am

    What a wonderful tribute Karen – not only a tribute to Captain Scarlett but also you to G and yourself.

    Even when they have left home and are in their 20s you never really cut the ties. Lat night the phone rang here at 9:30 and it was B in tears and sobbing – he had just broken things off with his partner and “needed someone to talk to”. As we talked about reasons, opportunities and rissotto he settled a little. He said he really wanted to come and visit soon but his life was so full of great thing he couldn’t make it until next Tuesday. Just another example of the paradox that is independent life versus the comfot of home.

    I know that you will always be there for A no matter where, when or what he is up to. You will always care, worry and support, just in a different way.

  • 6 karen // Nov 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Ladies, thank you so much for your kind comments – and my apologies it has taken so long to thank you.

    Angela – yep it seems to be that blinking must be what did it. How did they get this big?

    Joanna – thanks. You’re giving me confidence that we will move onto the next stage and survive!

    Leah – awww, I hope you enjoyed Tuesday night with B and that he is OK. Thankyou for the vote of confidence!

  • 7 Denise // Nov 29, 2007 at 11:29 am

    A beautiful reflection that will help me through the void I am soon to face when my third and last child goes off to college. My husband died several years ago, and although I thought I had finished my grieving, I am finding that the thought of my last child leaving for college is forcing me to face yet again the loneliness I felt when my husband died. And still, as panicked as I feel regarding this future, I am greatful for the memories of my children’s growing up years and the love we have for each other. I am scared but confident that, as I coped with loss before, I will find a way to enrich my life and value this soon to be adventure.

  • 8 karen // Nov 29, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Denise – welcome to The Clearing Space, I am sooo glad you visited.

    Your comment really touched me – my experience is nothing compared to yours. I wish you so well in finding those ways to enrich your life and value the adventure. If attitude is an indicator, you’re going to get through this new challenge just beautifully. And you’re an inspiration to the rest of us indeed…

    Thank you for sharing with us.

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