Oh, the Places You’ll Go, My Son

I woke with a knot in my stomach.

Steaming mug of coffee in hand, I watched the darkness give way to morning sun. And in the quietness of nature, my sorting and reflections gave way to memories.

Years ago, in Virginia, we lived within a few miles of the college campus where Doug taught and coached. Most days, Conley saw Doug gather his backpack and pedal to work on his bike, headlight in place for early morning and late night rides.

At just two, Conley scooted around our small home, backpack secured, declaring there were places to go. “I’m going to school,” he said. “I’ll be back later,” he would add. “Oh, the places you will go, Conley!” I would say, thankful at the time, I could hold him close. At naptime, we would read and reread the wonderful Dr. Seuss story of so many possibilities and what that journey may hold.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
Dr. Seuss

Fast forward to today. In one short week, he is literally going to a new place – across the pond as they say. There will be university and soccer, people to meet and another country to explore.

He’s ready. Am I?

In some ways, I’m like a mother who wrote that she was a “hot mess on the inside; cool as a cucumber on the outside.” Admittedly, my hot mess emotions occasionally find their way out, much to my chagrin.

Lately, there has been a tug of war of time management. Time spent in preparation, organization, and packing versus time spent connecting with others as friends scatter to various campuses and job opportunities. During these weeks, we’ve tested patience while savoring many special moments.

As many before me already know, this kids-leaving-for-college gig is a complicated space. I confess I don’t always know how to do it well. But I’m trying.

The mama bear within just wants to be sure everything will be okay.

I find myself in the quietness of early mornings wondering and reflecting. Did I do enough? Did we have enough important conversations? How can I best let go and believe that all the joys and challenges of life have prepared our eldest for this new chapter?

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
~Dr. Seuss

I can only imagine the knot in my stomach one week from today as we load the van and make our way to the airport. There will be excitement, nerves, joy, and almost certainly a few tears.

The knot in my stomach will most certainly be present. Yet, I’ll be ever so proud and eager to see what upcoming months hold for my scooting son who has grown into a fine young man, flying to new places.

And interestingly enough, one of the first tasks he wants to complete involves the purchase of a bike to get around his new city in England.

Oh, The Places You Will Go

Next week, I’ll remember Dr. Seuss as I add, “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

And then I’ll whisper my own words, “Oh, the places you will go, my son. Trust your inner strength as you share your compassion and passions with the world. Blessings as you go and continue to grow!”


This article originally appeared at HazHope.com.

Heidi Hochstetler
Heidi is the mother of four teenagers as well as an educator, speaker, and renovator. Currently, she is a graduate student studying clinical counseling, spiritual direction, and restorative practices. Heidi writes at Slices of Hope (hazhope.com) where she is passionate about people, storytelling, and shared life experiences.

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