May 12, 2019
My son turned 20 today. At 6:18am.
First of all, the fact that I have a 20 year old floors me. I wonder if my parents felt the same disbelief when I turned 20 …
One minute you’re holding them in your arms, a tiny, wiggly baby incapable of doing anything on their own. Then, you’re walking them to school, holding their small hand securely in your own. Then, before you know it, they start driving a car and … graduate.
Thank heavens I have a portrait in my attic that keeps Me young … 😉
Yep. Jarod has officially ventured into his third decade … Twenty is kind of a transitional age. Not old enough to drink but old enough to vote, be drafted, and begin Adulting …
My son’s senior year was a very emotional time for me. And for him, as he himself understood and expressed in his final ROHS video “I Will Never Forget.” So many “lasts.” It was a year full of ceremonies and endings, wrapping up his first 18 years of life. Tying up his “childhood” with a neat, tidy bow and a graduation ceremony at Freedom Hill.
“Freedom” Hill … oh the irony.
Summer weekends were dominated with grad parties and college planning. Then, before I knew it, we had packed up his most treasured, worldly possessions and loaded them in three cars — with the help of a color coded spreadsheet he created — to caravan to Wayne State University.
No, he didn’t choose a college in another state. But, I promised to treat this move as if he were 3-hours away, guaranteeing him the freedom and independence he had shown himself ready for.
He was starting a new chapter in the book we had been writing together for 18 years.
Jarod was excited — and so ready. And I was happy for him. Really, I was. But there was this part of me that felt a loss so deep that the pain was indescribable … a sense that my compass was losing its true north.
The move was easy. And he was so happy … quickly hanging posters, placing photos and settling in. But I cried as we drove away and spent many hours just sitting in his room, missing him.
But then a strange thing happened. Calls came in. Texts to just say Hi. Successes or challenges in classwork that he wanted to talk about. With me. Invitations for coffee or outings to the Hilberry to see a play and get dinner. To quote a song from one of his childhood favorite Disney Channel movies, it was “the Start of Something New.”
The conversations changed and a New relationship began. No, he didn’t crawl on my lap or need me to hold his hand while he walked to class. But he still needed his Mom. He still wanted to share moments of his life with me. And something new and wonderful began to take shape.
Oh, I miss my sweet little boy. The last bite thief, Barnes and Noble song and dance kid, and his “this is my good idea” proposals. But I treasure the opportunity to get to know the Man he is becoming as he meets the challenges of Adulting.
There are still special moments … calls where he shares what’s going on, times he asks me about recipes as he prepares meals in his apartment, outings to Barnes and Noble and weekends when he comes home and says, “I just wanted to come home and be with you, Mom.”
We turned the page together. And though I look back at the memories that play out in my mind like films, we now have new chapters to write as our Story Goes On.
It’s far too easy to look back and miss the Now and all it delivers. But from someone who’s still featured in the script, I can honestly say the plot twists, scene changes, and character developments in the continuing adventures of Jarod Clark are a great read.
There are really no beginnings that can happen without an ending. Sometimes you have to leave behind something precious. But, if you release your hold, you might just discover that what you thought you lost, wasn’t gone at all … just transitioning or transforming.
And, there really is another Chapter in the book you started all those years ago with your child. Many of them, in fact. And this new book in the series is as good if not better than the earlier editions. I promise. It’s impossible to predict or see that story since its still in production when our children stand on the precipice … that stage … to take their diploma or drive off to college or move away to begin their lives.
Breathe and Turn the page.
And for heavens sake … don’t put down the book now. There’s so much more in the coming pages. Celebrate those moments from the earlier chapters. Relive them and smile. But keep in mind that the story goes on.
What I’ve learned in the past two of Jarod’s college years? The diploma, graduation and departure to college is by no means an ending of my special relationship with my son. The continuing adventures … and the fact that Jarod wants to share His Adulting with me … that’s priceless.
Turn the page …
And P.S. For those of you without kids or for anyone not here yet who experiences changes as relationships ebb and flow … just keep turning the page. What you think is an ending, may just be the start of something new …