I remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was seven years ago this summer. Jake was going to church camp as an ingoing sixth grader. I was a camp counselor.
He was so young and had no experience leaving home and being a part of a camp situation for a whole week. He was thrown into a group of mostly seventh and eighth graders, people he didn't really know all that well because he had just joined the youth group. Sure, he had his mom around but it wouldn't have been cool to acknowledge her, let alone lean on her for either support or comfort.
I could only watch from afar. The first few days were the hardest. From my mother's eyes - and heart - I observed what seemed like a mere child who was on the fringe of the activity most of the time. He seemed lonely. He seemed friendless. It broke my heart.
This is some of what I'm feeling at the moment. Jake leaves for college tomorrow. He's not old enough to leave home. He's going to be lonely, out of place, friendless. I need to protect him, to hold his hand, to help him through all the tricky twists and turns ahead.
Of course, that isn't true. It's just how I feel as his mother. Feelings, I'm realizing, that don't change as fast as a child ages. In that way, college is going to be more of an adjustment for me than it will be for him.
At camp, it didn't take more than a couple of days for Jake to not only become an integral part of the group, but to be that kid that others enjoyed being around. He was cute, smart, nice, polite, friendly, a little mischievous, resourceful, and responsible. I found myself letting go of the mother role for the rest of the week because he didn't need [or want] that from me during that time.
Jake has those same qualities now. In fact, they are stronger now and he has acquired even more. He will do well living away from his home and in college. He will be learning more about himself, about life, and about learning. He will make new friends and experience student life. He will enjoy himself in his new environment. And as a mother, could I ask for anything more?
I am proud, and Don and I have accomplished what is meant to be. We've worked hard for 18 years to come to this point. We are indeed proud and happy. I just have one question... how long will this lump in my throat and tear in my eye remain?