My baby is now 17. I see him every day and obviously I can believe that he has grown up. At the same time, the fact that I am the mother of a high school Junior about to be a Senior who will move on to college seems distinctly unreal. This school year has made me very aware of how quickly time is passing. Just as the world seems to be spinning in a wild direction driven by fear of change and I’ve no idea what else, I am finding that my boy is growing up. Rapidly, with no end in sight.
It’s a change I work hard to embrace. Since he entered my world, I’ve been preparing him for a life of his own. I had no idea how quickly those first seventeen years would fly by. But they have and I am now the mother of a high school Junior looking forward to his final year of high school.
Every once in a while, in the midst of the talk about college, academics, and planning for JT’s Senior year, I have the abrupt realization that in 2018 my son will graduate high school and then move on, living on his own. In the past year, as my sister’s oldest child moved away to college, I’ve become more aware of the transition that is steadily taking place.
For the most part, I studiously ignore the implications of all this planning. The biggest of which is that my son and I will no longer share a residence on a full-time basis. I am sure that there will be unexpected joys and gifts in the next stage of his life and mine but those are hard to think about. What does occur to me is that my daily mothering will no longer be required. That idea is overwhelming for me and when it occurs, I set those thoughts aside in favor of the chores of daily life.
But in the occasional quiet moment, I catalog the ways in which I have been preparing JT for the moment when he walks out the door to a life of his own. I’ve done so carefully, with an eye toward traditions and experiences that will remind him how very much he is loved and carry him into independence and adulthood with a strong sense of who he is and who he can become. For the next year and a half, as I wrap my mind around a baby boy who is shortly to be a high school graduate and then a college student, I plan to write about the traditions I built for him. These posts will be marked Letting Go, because that is the plan, to send my boy on his way.
My 17 year old baby and I are taking to the road to visit some colleges this week. And so it seems appropriate to begin with playlists. For as long as he has been alive, I have made music playlists for our mutual enjoyment. In his early years, this was music that I burned onto CDs that became our seasonal playlists. We’d listen together in the car as we drove to school each day. At first, he’d be in the back in his car seat and I’d look into the rear view mirror to see him keeping beat with the music. As he learned to talk, he began to sing along with the tunes. Eventually, he grew big enough to be my front seat co-pilot. Our playlists came along for the ride and now the co-pilot was running the iPod wth our music.
Our annual summer vacation camping trip always meant two or three playlists for us to enjoy together. From those adventures, certain songs are burned into my memory. When I hear them again I think of the stretch of highway between Providence, Rhode Island and the bridge to Cape Cod, or our favorite beach on the Cape. When T, JT, and I made our trip to Kansas City and St. Louis last summer, I made a playlist for our drive across that state. For JT and I, road trips means playlists.
For the trip that begins today, JT took charge and he made our road trip playlist . He says he’s chosen all the songs he remembers best from our drives together and he’s added a few more songs of his own, inspired by the music I shared with him over the years. I can’t wait to hear what he picked. It seems fitting that for this journey, he’ll be the driver and I will be the co-pilot.
Let the journey begin!