Zeb has always been an independent person. From the time he could scoot and crawl he preferred lots of time out of my arms. As a toddler he loved his day trips out with grandparents or aunts. And for many years he’s chosen to stay home alone whenever possible.
That’s the easy “free range” stuff for me.
Watching him board a plane for his first solo flight – that makes my heart clench a little. 🙂
Lemme go back…
A few months ago Zeb was feeling a lot of homesickness. We talked and he processed and at the time we didn’t see what else to do other than empathize.
Then that night I had one of those “Duh” moments when you suddenly ask yourself why not and realize you don’t have any reason other than “I just hadn’t thought about it.”
So I asked him, “Would you like to fly back to Vegas to visit family and friends?”
There was really no reason why it wouldn’t work…we could afford a single ticket, he’s 12 for goodness sake (I was flying alone since I was 8…and that was before security was such a PITA) and he wanted it – and that’s enough to make anything a possibility.
We talked about the reasons we couldn’t all go (cost + RV storage + dog + work), what it’s like to fly alone, how the trip might be organized to see everyone and how long he’d like to stay.
3 weeks he decided would be long enough to see everyone and do everything and not be too homesick for us.
So we made it happen.
And yesterday he took off.
Okay, so I’ll admit I was excited for him just about the entire time.
But towards the end was when my heart was a little clenched and there was one point where I thought I might vomit.
I didn’t (and don’t) want to taint his trip with my own emotions about missing him. And I’m not at all worried about him or his ability to fly alone, navigate friends and family and have fun.
But there was a really weird moment when his plane was taxiing the runway and I knew his phone was shut off that the Mama Bear in me said, “WTF?! I’m going to be out of contact with him for nearly 6 hours?!”
Like I said, being away from him was something I had to get used to from the day he started moving. And we’ve spent days away from each other when he was having a sleepover-a-thon or Justin and I had our honeymoon.
But the longest distance away has only been a couple hours drive and we’ve NEVER not been able to pick up the phone and reach him in an instant.
And THAT was…well, I don’t have words for how that felt, except to say that it felt oddly like I was looking into the future.
My son is growing. He’ll be 13 this year and he’s as tall as me (and taller than his Grandma – haha!). His voice is changing and he can lift me up when we hug. And he has a girlfriend – did I mention that?
And it won’t stop there.
Soon the ratios of together and not-together will be flipped and he may be off doing his thing with his people more than he may be doing his thing with us.
And that’s EXCITING! It’s exciting to watch him make steps out into the world in a way that makes sense and feels right to him.
But it’s WEIRD too. Not weird of him, not weird of what he’ll do…but weird of how it feels to parent with such attachment and then suddenly realize that all that attachment parenting that you did (or caught up on) was really laying a foundation for him to eventually form attachments elsewhere.
It’s weird to have known but actually *realize* that it’s not about me, it’s not about my ideas or hopes, it’s not about my preconceived notions of what and when and how and why.
It’s about him.
It’s about the things that light HIM up, the things that make HIM excited, the things that HE wants.
Those really have very little to do with me.
He didn’t come into this world to be parented by me, to grow some powerful attachment to his parents and live happily ever after with us.
It was merely our job to give him those things now so that he could do what he came into this world to do. And now it’s our job – not his – to process the emotions that come with that so that he doesn’t feel responsible for the way we feel about his exploring his own life.
I guess this will be good practice for us so that I don’t act like a total spazztastic Mama Bear when the big stuff starts shifting. 🙂
P.S. Everyone (including us) is asking what we’re going to do for 3 weeks without him. We did some chatting on the way home from the airport and decided it’s going to look a little like this:
- Enjoying the big smiley pictures he’s been texting us
- Finishing up some work projects
- Eating sushi – his least favorite meal
- Spending a romantic weekend in the Florida Keys
- Sex on the couch
- And other places
- In the middle of the day
- And I think Justin is trying to figure out the whole Nekked Room thing as I type.
I’m going to try REALLY hard not to over-text Zeb, over-check his Facebook page or call him constantly. But it’s proving to be very hard so far. 🙂