The Meaning of Mom…A Personal Story

The morning of January 5th dawned sunny. My son shouldered his backpack and headed to my car like so many times before. Despite the familiarity of the scene, I knew when he returned he would not be the same, nor would I.

An hour later, I parked and we made our way inside his Air Force recruiter’s office, the drop off point for his journey to Basic Training and the beginning of his career with the military. I was doing my best (I told myself) to be strong for him and not cry, but when his recruiter politely indicated it was time to say goodbye, a flood of emotions overwhelmed my resolve. I gave him a hug and a kiss and for the first or second time in his life, my son saw tears in my eyes.

How is it that the most significant events in life hide in the understated moments? A whirlwind of thoughts gusted through my mind: Austinthis was the culmination of nineteen years; he had grown up and was no longer a child; he was beginning the next phase of his life where my responsibility for him ended and he became responsible for himself; my role as nurturer and guardian to see him safely to this point in body, mind and emotions had ended. I found myself unprepared to let go of the familiar.

I had been the first to ever hold him when he was born – not even the doctor, but me. I well remember the moment I laid eyes on him…the awe and wonder at the miracle of new life my body had created…the embodiment of my husband’s and my love for each other. My thoughts had quickly moved to my hopes for what he might someday become. He had captured my heart in a way nothing else could, and I willingly surrendered.

I was the one who gave personalities and life to his stuffed animal buddies from whom he derived comfort when he hurt inside when he was little. I was the one who intervened when he and my husband didn’t see eye to eye, which seemed all too frequently, as he moved through his adolescent years. Yes, he vexed me plenty as he grew up, but under the busyness of daily living, I was deeply committed to his success out of my love for him.

So yes, I cried as I kissed him goodbye. While my rational mind knew this moment was healthy and certainly necessary, that simple Austin2gesture of giving him a kiss and a hug marked me letting go of the familiar and stepping into a new and evolving role as the mom of a grown son who lives on his own, who I am no longer responsible for.
He will still need comfort at times and will hopefully accept some guidance from me now and then, but he will have changed. This is a good thing, an inevitable thing, but it still brings tears.

I reflect on the first eighteen years we have with our children. Excitement surrounds the birth of a new baby and the issues you face immediately are manageable. As they grow, the challenges become more complex and you feel less and less equipped, but you figure things out the best you can and move on. Eventually, this moment arrives and no matter if you tremble wondering if they are really ready, it reveals the truth that we are now, and will forever be, powerless to control what happens in their lives. Little did I realize this is what I was signing up for when my children were born, but this truly is what it means to be Mom–to love another human being more than you ever thought possible, to be humbled by your lack of skill in raising them, to continually seek their best even when they don’t appreciate it, to hurt with and for them when they hurt, to cheer them on to realize their dreams,  and ultimately, whether you feel ready or not, to release them to be who you have helped them become.


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Author - I am passionate about helping people live better lives by overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and a whole lot more. I weave these narratives throughout the entertaining novels that I write.

9 thoughts on “The Meaning of Mom…A Personal Story

    1. I must confess, I cried as I wrote this post. It’s still very fresh for me being only January that he left… Being my youngest, his departure made my husband and I empty nesters… Not a simple adjustment for me.

  1. I could feel the love you have for your son in your words. It is so hard when we face the reality they have turned into adults, and it is time to let them go out and face the world on their own. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Cathy, it sounds like you speak from experience. Our daughter, older than my son by 2+ years is attending college in town so we’ve been spoiled in letting the first one go. We see her every weekend so I hadn’t hit this letting go until now… It’s not easy that’s for sure…

  2. This reminded me of when I left for Basic Training

    It was the first time I saw my mom cry. I’m not the first born; I have an older brother who hopped on a plain to better things two years before. I know my mom cried, just not in front of my younger brother and I.

    I was the girl, her girl, and I was leaving to start my life, when no cetin date when I would see them again. That’s how it is in the military. It’s not, go to basic and return home and wait for your posting. It’s basic, posting, training, and more training.

    That was nine years ago. Even time I tell her I have to be deployed, I hear a break in her voice, but she’ll never tell me to stay, just be careful and a hope to see each other at Christmas.

    Thank You Mom, for believing in m, in my choices and for being proud of who I am. I know it’s hard when I have to leave, and I won’t always get home to visit, but you’re not far from my mind.

    Thank you for never telling me to stay. I know that’s hard for you, but I know, that you know, I could never say yes.

    You’ve made me the person I am today. There aren’t enough thanks in the world to convey that.

    Thank You, a million times, thank you.

  3. Yes! I’m wondering how that day will be when I drop off K at college in August…not ready!! I saw some friends a earlier this month who sent their youngest to college two years ago. I hesitantly asked how the empty nest was and their eyes sparkled and shone as they replied gleefully, “It’s GREAT!!” I don’t think I’ll get from the point of release to “It’s GREAT” immediately, but I was happy to see the genuine sparkle in their eyes and to have a vision of “life after kids.”

    1. Thanks for sharing that. I’m certainly not there yet, but it’s nice to know it gets easier and even Great in time 🙂

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