Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All In

As many of you know, my son left for school in July and from the moment he made his move, everything changed.

There were suddenly no more teenage boys in the family room eating my food and leaving big shoes to trip over in the hall, no more masses of laundry, and no one to say "I'm starving, what's for dinner?"

In the blink of an eye, nineteen years of my life was over.

Years of worrying, guilt, angst, and love.

You know, I never thought I'd be one of "those mothers."

But I guess the writing was always on the wall...

The set of Childcraft encyclopedias I purchased before he was born, eating broccoli my third trimester to fully support his brain development, countless crafts, picnics, and watching Barney sing "Just Imagine" so many times that to this day, I know all the words by heart.

The first day of kindergarten where despite my best efforts I cried all the way home after dropping him off.

Science fairs.

Attaching the charts and graphs *we* had created to my very impressive professional display board from work.

Hot dog days, Christmas pageants, sports trips, car pooling, birthday parties, and the strategic re-merchandising of my fabulous baked goods in many a fundraiser...

All point to one inexorable conclusion:

I have always been one of those mothers.

Because on some level I understood from the get go that nothing in my life would ever equal the joy of having a little boy with whom to catch frogs, talk dinosaurs, build caterpillar sanctuaries, laugh uproariously, and dream with.

Life is a succession of joy and grief, endings and beginnings.

February to March.

Nothing remains static, and all things, no matter how wonderful will eventually reach their end.

My days as the mother of a little boy are over.

And as such, I have to let them go, and let him go in order to pave the way for all the new beginnings that are certain for both of us.


Over the years, I've poked fun at my tendency to do everything "just right" - but maybe it's time, now, to start cutting myself some slack.

Maybe it's time to start acknowledging that my labours, in actuality, bear sweet fruit and that it's okay in life to be All In.

Some of us have a poker face, and some of us fearlessly play our cards.


When my son filled out his housing preferences before he left for school he ticked the box marked non smoker. But on the other box that read "Could you live with a smoker?" he ticked yes.

I was curious about this and asked him why.

His reply: He had a problem with anyone who would exclude another human being on the basis of a habit or addiction.

To him, the question was offensive, like asking "Could you live with a fat person?" without first knowing who that person was or what their attributes might be.

And I realized that despite his aversion to my feeling charts, the endless playing of Where Is The Love in our home, or the night I insisted he and my husband do a "group share" to expose our collective vulnerabities (I believe my husband's was "I hate Maxwell House coffee") the fact I've been "all in" has made its impression.

We have released a kind, sensitive, and confident man into the world.

And as February rolls into March, as grey skies slowly turn blue, I'm reminded that though one facet of my life draws to a close, new doors are beginning to open.

I have the power to continue to shape my world.

We all do.


  1. Love this Maven, I too was one of those Mothers, my son has now finished University, built his own home, is engaged to a beautiful girl who I love, and is getting married in April. Laura is still living at home, and is working with disabled children. I am often reduced to tears looking through the old photo albums, I want to reach in and pull out those babies just to spend one more day with them, then I think about the incredible young adults they have grown into and all is ok again. Children are my passion, so with my two all grown up I have now become a foster carer, I need children in my life, it is so rewarding seeing traumatized children, so damaged in their short little lives take steps in their recovery, the first time they actually let you in to their troubled world etc. I guess I am still one of those mums.

  2. A new baby to a grown man, it is a big job. It also sounds like you did it well, poker face or no.

  3. Whenever anything in my life comes to a close (and often even when nothing is over) I feel like everything is ending. It's a terrible feeling. I wish I never felt it, than no one ever felt it, and that we all always felt like there were possibilities and opportunities ahead of us.

  4. This post spoke to me as if we across the kitchen table from one another. You captured many of my mental musings about my own son who is about to get ona bus Monday to be sworn into the US Army. I too, am one of those mothers as you mentioned. Thanks for sharing that.

  5. Change is a challenge. I knew it was coming. I guess I assumed he would be back. Then reality set in. AND now I have two ;) Still wish they could move in with me :)

  6. Oh, I also wanted to add this--remember when we came to visit and i was a wreck about Sean, and you totally got it? I knew you were "one of those moms" right then and there. :)

  7. Right now my life can be summed up as "you are only as happy as your saddest child............