Do Your Babies Ever Stop Being Your Babies?

Our oldest is 18. He’s heading off to college in the fall, and while that’s scary enough in and of itself, I’m probably a little more okay with it than most, simply because he’s been away at boarding school for 3 years now.   But I’m still a tad nervous.  And NO!  We’re not rich.  Not even close.  We have just chosen to sacrifice many, many things so that he could have a great education….   Nonetheless…   On occasion I’m more than a little freaked out about the whole college thing!

Right now he’s about a 90 minute drive away from us.  That’s close enough to come home on weekends, for every break, or for us to drive down for a football game, a dinner every once in a while,  maybe even take him shopping for clothes when he’s grown out of them once again. Yet his college destination will be about 10 hours away.   That certainly doesn’t make for an easy drive just to pop home for mom to do laundry.

How did he grow up so fast? It seems like just yesterday when I heard him yawn for the first time.  Even though he looks just like his dad, and I, in fact, birthed him, when I heard him yawn that first time  I knew he was mine.  Because I yawn exactly the same way.  How on earth did we go from days spent reading about the Archaeopteryx, Pachycephalosaurus, Parasaurolophus, and Tyrannosaurus Rex to choosing housing?  How did we go from a fascination of all things Star Wars to being practically light years apart geographically?  Yes, I know it won’t be like he’s overseas or anything, but still!  10 hours away? My baby!

So pardon me if I’m a little apprehensive/skittish/concerned/ neurotic  – basically totally and completely freaked out! – about him going off to college.  Honestly though?  I’m edgy mostly because there’s a really good possibility he might meet his future wife in the next 4 years!  I met his dad when he was 19, and I was in my early 20’s.  So wouldn’t, couldn’t it be quite likely that he could meet a her?  Someone that could birth my grandchildren?  OH!  Perish the thought!  I feel too young to even think about a future wife, let alone grandchildren!!!!

I completely and totally get that this is normal, the way of the world, in fact.  That we raise our children to grow up, marry, and carry forward with the cycle of life (strains of the Lion King theme are coursing through my brain right now!).  But I don’t feel as if he’s quite old enough to be that old yet!  He’s still my baby.  Yes, he’s a fine young man.  Mature, thoughtful, intelligent, curious, bold, and numerous other positive adjectives.  But he’s still so young.  He’s still so inexperienced in the ways of a harsh, dog-eat-dog reality.   Even though he’s been somewhat independent for these three years, and no matter how much he says otherwise, he’s really still awfully dependent upon his father and me.

Little by little he’s been stretching, tugging, and slipping out of our grasp, and while this is natural,  each tug brings out the mama bear in me with absolute ferocity.  PROTECT & DEFEND!   The urge in me is strong.  Will that impulse in me ever cease?  Ever lessen?  I don’t know.  My parents still tend to want to take care of me, to a degree, but they’re often quite subtle about it.  Behind closed doors however, are there conversations, prayers, and worries about what’s to become of me?  Do their fears and doubts ever go away now that I’m all grown up?

Somehow, I don’t think so.  Somehow, I think that despite knowing a child can  and should  take care of things themselves, the parenting gene never is fully turned off.  No matter how many years go by, how many trials and tribulations one goes through, or how, as parents we need to allow our children to learn the hard lessons for themselves, we’ll always be parents.  And they’ll always be our babies.

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