Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I woke my son David for school for the last time ever yesterday. Not a big deal, really. I wouldn't have even thought of it if he hadn't reminded me that night, "Don't wake me tomorrow, Mom. I'm going in late for a final."
Then he added, "In fact, you won't have to wake me from now on."
And that's when it hit me. He's done with high school. Again, not a big deal, really. Except that it is.
He's my baby, this 6' 4" man.
Twenty-seven years ago, I managed my first born the best I could with my entry-level maternity skills. My second child, four years later, was easier, because I knew what to expect, and she was temperamentally calmer than her older brother. Then after the heartbreak of a miscarriage, there was David.
He was it, my last baby. I knew that, and that awareness made me savor every moment of his babyhood in a way I hadn't with the others.
I rocked him to sleep, and then continued rocking, feeling his warm weight on my shoulder, instead of plopping him in his crib to "get something done" as I'd done with the others. When we went for a walk, I didn't hurry him past the drain where he knelt to plop in pebbles into the water.
It wasn't that I loved him more, it was just that he was my last, and I knew how fleeting the time. I didn't hurry David on to the next step. I let him unfold like the leaves in spring, sometimes early, sometimes not.
Now he's my final fledgling. He's ready to fly, although not in the sense of escape. I'm ready to let him go, although not with any sense of urgency. This is unfolding as it should. I raised him to stand on his own two feet, find his own way in the world, and be productive in a way that matters to himself and others. He is my baby, but I didn't baby him.
I'm proud of David, of who he is, despite me and because of me. I played a role in directing him, but he is the one who made the choices about how to act. Soon he'll be the director, and I'll sit in the spectator seats.
I've sat there before. It isn't always easy. But I'm ready to applaud, and if I have to, I'll hiss and boo.