I had asked for advance notice and thought I had 2 weeks before Jake and Mercedes and their 2 dogs moved out. I made lists of things I wanted to buy to contribute to their new place. I bought the ingredients to make their favorite meals for their last weeks at home. I was readying myself for his departure, much in the same way I had readied myself for his arrival 21 years earlier, although with far less enthusiasm and anticipation. Then Wednesday night, I got a text "We're actually going to move on Friday." Lump in the throat. I guess I didn't respond quickly enough because then came the next text "Sorry for the short notice, but Andy can get the box truck that day so we're just going to move everything then." The lump began to make me feel like I couldn't breathe or would choke. Then he walked through the door and looked at me... pathetic me with my lower lip trembling, my eyes filling up and unable to speak. The next text said "Are you mad?" I finally replied, "Not mad just very sad." And then I got the text that released the tears I had been trying so very hard to hold back "I'm sad too. Just know you'll always be my best girl." And with tears rolling down my face, I texted back "And you'll always be the first boy I ever loved."
The tears were tears of sadness, tears of pride and tears of love. I have spent 21 years readying my boy for the time he would be out on his own, trying to teach him responsibility, kindness, love and a sense of right and wrong. And in those years, there have been tears of happiness, sadness, frustration, anger but always love and pride. I have always believed in my boy and have always known he had it in him to make it on his own and to be successful, but sometimes I felt he didn't believe in himself. I have said more than once "I show you and tell you the easy way and the straight road to get there, and why do you insist on always taking the detour?" Yes, my boy likes to take the hard road, over the bumps and around the curves, usually at top speed, and there have been accidents along the way. But now he's a little older and a little smarter, and maybe sees that Mom's way is a little easier road to travel.
Today I visited the new place. He and his girlfriend of a year and a half have a loft in their friends' house. The bedroom is small, but the loft area is big and will make a nice living room for them. I watched him as he unloaded the bags of groceries and other things from the back of my car. I watched him as he helped Mercedes put them away. I watched as he proudly gave us the tour and showed us the things they had gotten for the new place. I watched as he played with his dogs and took them outside. And the lump returned.
This lump was a different lump. This lump was holding back the tears of pride, the tears of happiness because I wanted to jump up and down and say "We did it!" with much of the same feeling I had as he crossed the stage and received his high school diploma. Gone was the boy who had been known to drive me crazy, the boy who used to say "Why can't I? I'm old enough." And gone was the answer I had always given to that question "You may be ready, but I'm not." I was ready. I was ready for him to take the next step in his adult life, ready for him to get his own place. I was ready for him to take the next step in his relationship and share that place with Mercedes. And I was ready to dry my tears, smile and hug him as we said goodbye and drove to our home and left him in his.