Of course, this isn’t really what my 20-year-old son said to me, but it’s how I felt! We were visiting him last October in South Dakota. My husband, Jon, and I had driven 10 hours to see Grant and his football team play and I couldn’t wait to spend time with him. We went to the hotel where the team was staying and found a quiet table so we could visit. We discussed tomorrow’s game, how school was going, etc. He then proceeded to tell me about different ailments he was suffering from, mainly canker sores. Now, I am not a doctor, dentist, or a nurse but I am a mother! HIS mother! I immediately went into “Mom Mode” to offer any number of solutions… Mouth rinses, topical medicines, etc. He interrupted me and said, “Mom, STOP babying me!” I was shocked, stunned and most of all hurt! In my mind, I wasn’t babying him, I was trying to help him. I assumed he wanted me to “fix it” since he was the one who brought it up.
I sat there quietly trying my best not to cry and let him know how much his words had hurt me. I watched he and Jon carry on their conversation and I realized this 6 ft. 205 lb. person sitting across from me was no longer my little boy. He was a grown man. He was in his second year in college and he didn’t need his mother anymore. How and when did this happen? Why didn’t anyone tell me that the hardest part of parenting was learning to let go? It’s not late nights with crying babies, or toddlers who are constantly throwing temper tantrums, or teenagers who don’t clean up after themselves… It’s suddenly realizing that your time is done, and your services are no longer needed.
After we left the hotel, I expressed my feelings to my husband. However, instead of consoling me and being his normal, sympathetic man I had married, he actually agreed with our son. He said, ” he’s 20 years old and doesn’t need his mother telling him what to do.” OUCH! More pain pierced through me. For the first time in my life, I felt irrelevant. I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing…. I love serving my family and being there for them. It’s what I enjoy most. And now, I wasn’t needed. I had been served my pink slip! Let go. Fired. Terminated and laid off!
The next day, after the game, my husband and I began the long trip home. Completely unaware that his wife was having a huge identity crisis and on the verge of a major melt down, he started telling me about partners in his firm who were set to retire at the end of the year. They had been in his office talking to him about how they were no longer relevant to the firm and completely cut out of firm wide decisions and emails. They had poured blood, sweat and tears into this company and just like that, they were no longer needed. I just stared at him. Finally, I said, “This is exactly how I feel with Grant! I’ve been cut out and I had no say in the matter.” He looked at me, took my hand and said he understood. I felt a little better.
So, where do we go from here? I started talking with my friends, sharing similar stories, reading books, etc. It was helpful. I also started thinking about writing a blog. To this day, Grant has no idea I had a complete irrational melt down in South Dakota that night. Nor, should he. He was right. He doesn’t need me to solve his problems! (Did I mention he’s majoring in mechanical engineering?) He was just sharing information and not asking for me to fix it. This is my opportunity to step back, as his mother, his cheerleader and his friend… Let him navigate through life on his own. After all, my job is complete and I’m proud of the work I’ve done! It’s not easy letting go of something you’ve worked so hard on… but it is part of life.