It’s been 20 days since we dropped our firstborn child in another state, to start the next chapter of his life. No question the last month has been an emotional one. Well actually, the last 18 years!!
Having kids makes everything more emotional and raw. From the moment you see their face, your heart is forever beating outside your chest. Motherhood makes every emotion more raw…whether it be joy or pain, love or pride. Everything is felt more intensely, and never with an on/off switch.
We spent 18 years preparing him for life beyond our home, but it never occurred to me that I’d need preparing, too. It’s just what you do…raise them up, and send them off. But I never paused to think about what ‘sending them off’ would actually feel like for me.
Dropping him at college and walking away was the single hardest thing I’ve done as a mother. I know it’s the natural order of life, but saying goodbye that college drop-off day was the most unnatural thing I’ve done. Everything in me wants to keep him to myself, but I know setting him free is what’s best for him. It’s the single biggest sacrifice I’ll make as a mother. Letting him fly at the expense of my own fragile heart.
Our heads tell us they’re where they’re supposed to be, and of course they’ll be back, but our hearts tell a different story. I’m so full of pride, yet heartbroken by his departure. I can only describe it as devastating joy.
It was a long drive home, and a sad few days after, with lots (and lots!) of tears. But after a week or so, he started to get a rhythm in his new life, and I could see the excitement and pride in his face (praise God for FaceTime!), and my heart began to heal.
We’re finding our own new rhythm at home, with just the three of us. And even though it still feels like something is missing, we’re getting used to it. I’m not just mourning the absence of his daily presence, but the realization that our family life will never look the same again.
It’s a new chapter for all of us, and just like most changes, this one will take some time. But one thing is certain, he’s where he’s supposed to be, and blowing us away with how smoothly he’s adapting. We did our job, and he’s reaping the fruits of our labor. Just as it should be.
When I look at these photos, I no longer see my little boy…I see a confident young man. He’s sure in who he is, and focused on the man he wants to become. We gave him the tools, now it’s his turn to use them.
We also gave him some new gear for college life…including a stack of his favorite Patagonia tees, comfy sneakers, and a sturdy backpack. Backcountry is one of his go-to spots for the active, outdoor styles he loves.
He chose the classic Herschel Supply backpack, in a sturdy cotton canvas material. It’s got plenty of space for his books and laptop, plus a media pocket for his phone. The straps are padded for a comfortable fit, and the flap has a magnetic snap to stay safely closed.
He’s been wearing Vans sneakers for years, and loves the fun styles Backcountry offers. The Vans Old Skool offers more support for the long walks across campus, and are a great price!
Oklahoma gets significantly colder Winters than Texas, so he’ll be reaching for his Patagonia Fleece Pullovers more often. And I feel more comfortable knowing he’s got the essentials he needs to be comfortable, and also look and feel his best.
College move-in day was exciting and devastating, but I’m so grateful to be this guy’s mom, and have a front row seat to his life. It’s been the best 18 years of my life, and I’ve loved every season of being his mother, so I’m clinging to the hope that this next season is no different.
Go soar, precious son, you’ve already made us proud!
I wouldn’t have made it through this last month without the love and encouragement from all of you! The outpouring of support is humbling, and I’ve loved hearing your own testimonies and experiences.
What happens after they leave isn’t something that’s talked about much, and I know I felt completely blind-sided by the emotions. Hearing you felt the same assured me I wasn’t alone. You also told me it would get better…and you were right! It’s better every day.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me, and opening your hearts to our family. I’m forever grateful to this community and your capacity to share love. And so thankful for partners like Backcountry that allow me to open up and help embrace each season of life and every active pursuit in it!
They have a huge selection of Women’s New Arrivals, I just added this thermal for game day! And this new pullover looks crazy comfy! Don’t forget, code SUGARPLUM15 gets you 15% off your first Backcountry order, some exclusions apply.
[Shop Some of Our Backcountry Faves]
*Photos by the darling and talented Mary Hafner. This post is created in collaboration with Backcountry and ShopStyle, but all product selections and styling are my son’s, and wounded mama heart is my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum sponsors!*