ready or not
It’s hard to drive when you’re crying. Your vision is obscured, your thoughts are distracted and your hands are busy with a Kleenex. If you’re going to cry you probably shouldn’t drive. Or if you have to drive, you just shouldn’t cry. So I didn’t. I took a deep breath and I blinked hard a few times and I headed out of the city. I have left Calgary for parts East dozens and dozens of times over the years. This time was different and much harder. I left both my sons behind. My oldest, with two years of life and work experience is set to begin his journey to an Engineering degree. My younger son, fresh off his high school graduation and a summer of farm labour will work toward his Bachelor of Commerce.
They are so ready for this. They want to see and try new things and their excitement is contagious. I’m happy for them and beyond proud, but leaving was tough. It was poignant and important and all the things they tell you it will be. We had Mother/Son dates prior to the move, in keeping with their tastes and personalities. Colton and I went golfing. Laughs and conversation and memories made under the prairie sun on a gorgeous summer afternoon.
Hunter and I went on a hike. It was called Prairie Mountain…2200 feet of elevation across a two mile stretch. We completed a difficult hike two years ago so I was sure I was up for this one. Turns out I was wrong. I really struggled. Legs burning, lungs on fire. The last two years took a toll on me like everything else in this world, I guess. We were half way but hadn’t even touched the elevation and the most difficult parts were still ahead. It was like climbing a steep and never-ending flight of stairs, exposed to the sun with no leveling off. I fought with myself for another half mile of stops and starts and finally told him I just couldn’t continue. I encouraged him to go on to the summit without me and I would wait. He refused, insisting instead that he would do the hike some other day. He would do it without me after I had gone home. We turned back and it was the most awful feeling. I am not a quitter but that mountain got the best of me and I hated it for that. Truly I was angry with myself too. I cursed a little and maybe shed a tear of frustration on the way down. My stubborn pride was hurt. We opted instead for a stroll along the river and a picnic on a rocky perch above the falls. It turned out wonderful and by the end I saw my summit-less day in a different light.
There are parts of the journey I am not going to be there for. Segments which are for sons only and Mom is simply going to hear about it or see the pictures later on. They will reach many summits on their own and though it pains me not to go along, it is the right and natural way of things. We bring them as far as we’re able and then we must turn back. We hug them and wish them well. And even with tears threatening to fall, we drive away. We have equipped them and now we smile with pride as they take their next steps.
Someone once said to me that writing these things down was a gift to my kids that they would always be able to open. A virtual journal they can stumble across again and again. So I will close with something I was proud and happy to have been able to share at Colton's graduation...a few words on behalf of the parents. These are for every parent and every child who turned the page to a new chapter this fall.
Ready or not, here I come. We’re all familiar with that phrase from a favourite childhood game. I’m sure it also sums up what us parents were feeling before you arrived. Whether we felt ready or not, you were coming…to change our worlds, to add to our lives and to fill our homes with love.
Home is its own kind of school…your first and most influential place of learning. Children and parents are teachers to one another. We teach you to walk, to talk and to use a spoon. We teach you to work hard, to face challenges and to give and receive love. You teach us to be patient, to take pleasure in simple things, and to guide without overstepping. Together we walk through life learning, growing and making mistakes. We help each other become the young adults and the parents we’re meant to be.
None of us raised you hoping you would live out your thirties in our basements. So, milestones like Graduation are a very good thing. But that doesn’t mean they’re always easy. You will discover if you haven’t already…that life is a mixed bag. The most wonderful times can make us feel a little nervous or anxious. The hardest challenges can offer joy and opportunities for growth. And so it is with today. We are excited for you and can’t wait to watch you step out into the next phase of your life. At the same time, we think of the babies we held and the children who used to reach for our hand. Ready or not, here I come has a twist today. Ready or not, here I go. May you go with the lessons and values we’ve taught you firmly intact. May they be with you even when we are not. May you feel the support of your community, friends, families and most of all us, your parents. We will be the firm hand that guides you and the soft arms that catch you when you fall.
As you get busy making your own way in life, please know that we like texts and updates…and remember that magical messaging device you carry around can even place phone calls. We are exceptionally proud of the young adults you’ve become, and we love you more than you can ever know. Congratulations!