There are times in your life when you simply have to let it go. When you are a parent – and a control freak to boot – letting go is not the easiest thing to do.
But I know better. Time marches on and either we march along with it or we get trampled. Ok, so maybe I feel some boots on my back right about now. And I know I am not alone.
So, to all of you who are trying to march into step with the graduation class of 2010, here it is: the Time to Cry Tuesday post about graduating your youngest child.
The other day, during the 4-hour end of school/pre-camp errand, Danny and I found ourselves in the bookstore and I came across Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. This 1974 novel was one of my most favorites back in the day – whenever the hell ‘the day’ was. Maybe High School, or college. I like to recommend some quality books to my kids in between the trash so I suggested that he read this. After being rejected by over 121 publishers it went on to sell over 4 million copies and was translated into 27 languages.
I suppose I was not alone in my love for this book.
While he browsed, I stopped at the Starbucks to try to alleviate the sleep-deprived haze I found myself in that is all too familiar this time of year. I began to refresh my memory by reading the back of the book. Up until this moment I had done a damn good job of holding it together. He is ready. He is excited. He is moving on to the next chapter of his life with the confidence and unbridled passion that only a young man of almost 18 could have.
I was good, I tell you, until I read this:
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination about how we live… and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better… an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear – growth, discovery and acceptance – that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions…
And that was when it happened. I broke. There in the Starbucks while ordering the grande iced latte (not even half caff, for G-d sake) I could not breathe. What if I had not imparted enough to him? Could I have done more? Could I have ‘lived better’ by example? Why did I never take a motorcycle trip cross country with him when he was younger ? (ok, that one is a stretch) Wait, I need a do over! I am sure there is some colossal parenting task I did not achieve well enough. Seriously, it went too fast, how could he make it without me?
And then I looked across the store. And there he was, with that scruffy almost-beard and that ultra-confident, but in no way cocky little swagger that he has. And I realized the only wisdom that was not realized was my own:
The Art of Letting Go.
My friends, the road is long. And then it ends(ish). But as we who have graduated the siblings before these kids know, being a parent is a life-long job. And this stage is in many ways more fun than any of them. They are the people we grew from babies.
Their own people. And with any luck they will take care of US when we are old. (which may be sooner than I think if I don’t get some sleep soon)
To my boy, may we always have days like these past few weeks we have shared. Thanks for humoring me through them. And for making me so very proud to be your mom.
I love you. Now go and be all you can be.
And be careful.