Dad’s, kids and tearful goodbyes

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Super Mom has been dreading this day since No. 1 was still grabbing his toes and giggling at every stupid face I could pull. I began dreading this day when I realized earlier this month, that No. 1 doesn’t need me anymore.

You often hear mom’s express their trepidation and fear of losing their children. To a mother, the difference between death and leaving for college is the former doesn’t require an occasional trip home on the holidays and laundry. To a mom, saying farewell to her child for any amount of time is like asking someone to saw off her arm and keep it safe for awhile and she’ll do her best to make do with just one.

Super Mom started crying about saying goodbye to her sons long before it even made sense.

“I’m going to miss him so much!” she would lament while depleting an entire stock of tissue.
“He’s going on an overnight Scout camp woman.” I failed ‘Husband Sensitivity Training’ several times.
“What’s it going to be like when they are all gone?” She often asks.
“Well hopefully we’ve taken up drinking by that time and I have a brand new set of golf clubs.” Not really but in desperate times, you gotta pull out all the stops to get her mind off that stuff. And by the way, I’m still taking those ‘Husband Sensitivity Training’ courses.

But a few weeks back I finally got it. I finally figured out what Super Mom has been fearful of all these years and this post will further reveal how soft I’ve become while raising my sons to be good, hard-working, independent men.

They say kids change when they get a drivers license. I looked for all the tell-tale signs of a possible growth spurt. When was this kid going to sprout up and be 6-foot-6? When is he going to pack on the muscle? But it was the new found independence, the swagger, the confidence that comes with the teenage realization that they can make a decision and they can do things without having to ask mom or dad a million questions. I never realized that No. 1 had changed until I heard the car door slam and the tires of his car were hitting the asphalt. He left without saying a word!

There’s an unwritten rule in our home that has been breached – When you leave…tell someone. With his ability to disappear at a moments notice, No. 1 has broken that law many times and I probably wouldn’t really car too much except for the fact that I suddenly missed him coming into my room to give me a hug and tell me that he loves me before he wanders into the great unknown. Never mind the fact that he is an overly cautious, very safe driver (unlike his dad) and for a kid his age, he is incredibly responsible. And we trust him. He’s always been that way. When No. 1 leaves our home we are absolutely confident that he is conducting himself with the utmost respect, with complete honesty and integrity.

But knowing those things makes it even more difficult to grasp that if No. 1 were asked to live on his own, he could totally do it with minimal guidance. And I’m also confident that we will have the same experience with each one of our sons. For years we have done our best to prepare them for independence and life on their own. Did we do such an outstanding job that they want to leave at sixteen? I doubt it because I’ve always known that these kids came packaged that way. They have a natural inclination to do the right thing and we’ve just been around to prod them and give them a few suggestions along the way.

American writer Jessamyn West said, “A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself.” There was a time when I said, ‘I can’t wait ’till these kids are gone ’cause I’m sick and tired of runny noses, dirty diapers and kissing boo-boo’s.’ The irony is I was lying to myself. I’ll miss these buggers. I’ll feel their absence. I’ll count down the days when I can see them between college semesters and after LDS missions or when they visit with their own families. And I should miss them. Because they are as essential to me as the beating of my own heart.

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