In a matter of a few seconds, I felt all the feels; joy, excitement, worry, anticipation, relief, gratefulness….exuberance to just name a few.
But I also felt something I didn’t expect.
I felt a release. I felt his release.
As my husband, myself, and my son all stood around starring at the computer screen reading “Congratulations!” I felt a metaphorical rush of air hit my face, and I imagined it was from my son spreading his wings and finally flying out of our nest.
And for the first time, I wasn’t sad about it. I want him to go.
All I could think about was this thought, “It was all worth it.”
That moment when a childhood becomes adulthood, where your baby’s life dreams are just beginning and their childhood dreams are ending, and as a mom, you get to see it, well, it was all worth it.
To the moms out there with kids not yet of college age, it’s gonna be worth it.
It was worth the months of puking, the stretch marks, the labor pains, the new body.
It was worth the years of sleepless nights, the red faced cries, the poop explosions.
It was worth the terrible twos, the tantrums, the household disasters, the reading of Good Night Moon 4,876 times, and the hearing the word “NO!” yelled at you for years.
It was worth the skinned knees, the vaccines, the runny noses, the earaches, the head bumps, the cavities, the braces, and the scary loud coughs waking you at night.
It was worth the thousands of lunches packed, the countless meatloaves made, and the endless trips to the grocery store to feed a boy who is forever hungry.
It was worth the late nights of spelling word practices, math fact practices, diorama making, science project fiascos, and book report writing.
It was worth being the mom taxi, the 5,000 hours spent in cars going to school, to sports, to the doctor, to anywhere and everywhere you needed to be. Even when I was so tired I could barely see the road.
It was worth the teen years, when hugs were few and far between, when their days were 15 hours long, and my grudges were even longer, when cars were dented, dinners went uneaten, attitudes exploded, and tears fell. It was worth the stress that comes when a kid is expected to be a mature young man, yet still had the heart and playfulness of a young child.
And last night, as all of those milestones flashed before me, I know the only thing that flashed before my son was the future, not the past. And I’m ok with that.
In a sense, sure, a lot of my “work” is done, and I do feel like I deserve a moment of “I did it. He’s going to college. Can I have a nap now?” But I know that is not the case. I know my childrearing doesn’t end at the age of 18, and I know he still needs his mom. But I am over the moon excited that slowly but surely, he will be making own decisions more and more, and need me less and less. That’s a good thing.
I’m going to go up to his room later today, and probably stare at an empty bed, and it will hit me that next year I will be staring at an empty bed all the time. But I will not be sad about, because the happiness on his face last night told me everything I need to know.
He’s gonna be ready. And it truly was all worth it.