I drove. I drove and I drove and I drove. I drove laboriously from SD to IL, thru IN, to TN, to MS, back to IL, and then back to SD–all in about 6 days. Part of the time, I labored alone. Other parts of the trip, my oldest son joined me in the journey.
We headed together to orientation at Ole Miss. For an incoming freshman, orientation is mandatory, and it proved to be well worth the trip/cost/investment of time. Part of the experience, I expected–the feelings of newness, excitement, the energy on a college campus, some frustration at not knowing our way. Upon arriving, we struggled to find our exact destination due to construction and renovations happening at Ole Miss. However, once we found the Welcoming area, we received smiles and welcomes from the orientation leaders, Ole Miss gear, handbooks to guide us further through the next 36ish hours, and we settled into our hotel room.
My son soon headed out for the evening to meet up with some other Ole Miss orientation attendees. “Good for him,” I thought. Facebook rocks, really. Through Facebok/Twitter and probably other stuff I don’t even know about, he has already met several incoming freshman. He went out in Oxford/on campus while I stayed back in the room. Hmmm . . .
I am not an overly hovering mom. I don’t think it’s my nature. God gave me 5 kids to keep me from micro-managing them. Partly because of the sheer numbers, our kids have to be pretty responsible for themselves and their belongings. I just can’t keep track of it all. So, aside from an emotional high school graduation week a little less than a month ago, I really have been doing just fine. I am excited for my oldest son. He has made a great choice, and I trust him as a young man.
“Have fun!” I’m sure I said as he headed out for the evening.
The next morning, as we waited for orientation to start, I felt something overwhelm me I’ve never before experienced.
I wanted to stop time.
I can still feel it. I can close my eyes and feel that deep need to make it all stop. I had a moment of dread, of panic, of fear. I experienced the reality of my inability to control these moments–to control the progression of time.
“Nick,” I said. “What if I want to opt out right now? What if I just don’t want to go through with this . . . this whole you going to college thing? I have this feeling of wanting to go backwards somehow, and we can’t. You are going. It’s time, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” He smiled. Exhale.
Once I said it, I was OK. But my thoughts turned immediately to my birth mom for a few moments. How must she have felt as my due date was approaching? The time was nearing . . . . I would be born and we would part. She would leave me somewhere. She would not be there to care for me anymore. I would not be in her tummy. I would be gone.
Did she want it all to stop? Did she want to opt out of the moment . . . find a way to detour around it?
As labor began, I don’t know, but I have to believe an overwhelming feeling similar to my feelings about Nick must have come up in her. The end of “us” was approaching, and there was nothing she could do. We would have to part. Sadness must have come over her; we had been as one for almost 9 months.
In the moment, I allowed myself to feel the feeling about Nick, share it, breathe, and re-engage in what I know is best for him. It is best for him to go to college. OK. I won’t try to keep him. 🙂 And for that, I know he is glad.
All went “as expected” again for quite a while. In fact, in one of the parent sessions I won a gas card for having driven the furthest miles for orientation! Wahoo! Then later, another scheduled separation occurred. I found myself walking down the hallway back into my room without my son. That’s how it was supposed to go. The orientation leaders had a fun evening planned for the students, and the parents could “take a break.” So, I walked back to my room, alone.
The words of one of the speakers rang in my ears, “We understand here, at Ole Miss, that trusting your son or daughter with another family is not an easy thing to do.” Yes, sir, you are right. I am trusting my son with the Ole Miss family and the Ole Miss experience. My thoughts turned unexpectedly again to my birth mother as I walked and turned the corner into my room. She carried me, felt me grow stretch and hiccup in her tummy, labored to deliver me, and then . . . left me “as scheduled,” and walked back to her life, without me. Anymore.
I wonder if she could even allow her brain to think about who would raise me and care for me. It might have been too scary. Because I know my son, and have known him for 18 years and more, I have some trust not only in the Ole Miss family he has chosen, but also in Nick. He has proven to be a good decision maker–a fun kid with a good head on his shoulders.
But my birth mom . . . she was trusting her newborn baby, first to a foster mom/home (I don’t know anything about this home still today. The information and details about my 3 days there are sealed and hidden from me.), and then to a set of parents about whom she knew so little–who would raise me from day 7 through this very moment. As a mom, thinking of my newborn babies, I picture that infant (me) as completely helpless.
How? How do you turn over a little one who knows nothing at all about life, . . . ? So much could happen and will happen in life. I have had the privilege of parenting my son Nick for 18 years and putting my own fingerprints all over his heart, soul, and mind (the good, the bad, and the ugly ones–ish). But my birth mom . . . that was it. She would offer me no parenting, no life skills, no “be careful of . . . ” from her own life experiences and beliefs.
I recognized as I was separating from my son, a little at a time, worries of “did I teach him enough about . . . ,” and “should I remind him of . . . ” crept into my heart and mind. I wonder what my birth mom was thinking as we were separated. She would have no opportunity to teach me anything of her own.
I know from some of her words spoken only through a confidential intermediary she believed God was with her during that time. My birth dad allegedly was with her during labor. Surely she leaned on those sources as she handed me over . . . and I thank God for the family and life He planned for me before I was even in her womb and for the Scriptures assuring me of this truth and of His hand.
Psalm 139: 13,16
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . .
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
I’m growing older (mom of a college student . . . !). Am I growing wiser?