At the risk of sounding like every other mom on the planet, extending clichéd shock at the rapid growth of my own kids, I’m doing just that this weekend. How did my third son get to be a high school graduate?
When did this happen? Somehow, right under my nose, I’ve gone from young mom with a happy troupe of little people following me into the library, onto the sand, over the bridge, and under the redwood trees, to a mom of two adult men and another about to graduate from high school. They have jobs and girlfriends and the oldest now has his own apartment and a coffee table and placemats. He gave me a lunch date for Mother’s Day.
My heart. My heart feels all sorts of erratic out-of-sync sloppiness. One moment I’m coloring with the kindergartener at the kitchen table and the next I’m discussing the effects of patriarchy on the Judeo-Christian mindset with my very old young men. They teach me stuff. They call my bluff in a gentle way that is different from how my daughters approach my hypocrisy and shortcomings. They are men, and my heart is falling out all over the bamboo flooring.
This coming Monday, I will sit in a high school auditorium and watch as my third son graduates with a cap and a gown and a group of 39 other high school seniors he’s spent the last two years with at the charter homeschool high school he attends (I know it sounds weird. It’s a cool, out-of-the-box hybrid). I’ll likely have Mighty Joe on my lap and Christian (he’s 8) squished against my side, and three pre-teen and teen daughters, and grandparents, and girlfriends, and young friends right there with me, but I will feel a schizophrenic dichotomy of emotions from elation to relief to joy to pride to fear to sadness. Oh, the sadness.
We walk hand in hand with each child for the length of 18, maybe 20 years, and then it’s over. They walk with strength and a plan right out the garage door, with a box of stuff like socks and books and a photograph or two. But here, back at home, I’m still the mom with the heart that has just walked out the door. And my life has, once again, been changed for the better because each of these young men entered my life just short of two decades before they stood on their own and faced the world.
That’s how my heart feels: like it’s throbbing on its own, facing the world alone. But that’s not what’s really happened. My heart has actually been enlarged, stretched, and made fit to allow three grown young men to take residence there for the rest of my life. In some bright corner of my heart, each one has a place.