Remembering the Good in Goodbye – The Observer August 2023

Point of Vue – August 2023
August 2, 2023
Allons Mange – Point of Vue August 2023
August 2, 2023

I’ve parented him for 18 years.

Eighteen years of teaching, instructing, disciplining, watching, caring, loving. The list feels like it goes on and on.

His dad and I brought him home from the hospital – new parents without a clue. The things we thought we knew quickly came unraveled as we struggled with sleepless nights, rashes, the newborn quirks that no one can ever fully explain.

But he grew, and school years came. With it came sports and extra curricular. We joked about the years lasting forever. In ways, they seemed to stretch endlessly when we were in them. During those years, there are many days I would have given anything for more sleep, more time at home, more quiet moments.

But this month changes everything. He leaves this month. On the 12th day of August, he’s leaving. Maybe you’re reading this and he’s already left. Maybe you’re reading this and he’s about to leave.

It’s college, and it’s what he wants. It’s only a little less than two hours away. Louisiana State University. LSU. He’ll be in his own dorm, gone for weeks at a time without a chance to come home. He’s a member of Tiger Band, so his fall schedule doesn’t allow him to come home often on the weekends. I’m sure we will call and Facetime frequently, but he won’t be coming home to our house. To our family. To our dinner table.

The mixed emotions are real – proud to see him make his own way. Sad to see him leave the home we have created. The questions rolling through my mind over the past months of him at home often sound like a “to do” list to myself. Did I teach him enough about safety? Can he do a good job balancing his checking account? Does he know how to carefully select friends? Will he balance school and fun and do well at both?

Did I teach him our values and the reason why we believe the way we do? Or is he just parroting what we have said without understanding the why? Is he going to wash his sheets often enough?

But in the goodbye, I’m remembering there’s good. The good in bye is that we have known and loved and cared. When we tell him goodbye, it’s a true sentiment. It’s bye, but also good. What a privilege to parent him. It’s been a joy to watch him grow into a young man that we are proud to call ours. The speed bumps and set backs along the way have been lessons that have wizened us all.

I hope LSU is ready for him. He’s ambitious and kind and social. The type to take on huge projects and carry it through. But most of all he notices others. He came home in middle school asking about a friend who wanted to play an instrument but couldn’t afford it. “How are we going to help?” he asked. Not “if” we were helping but “how.”

When he leaves, it’s with bursting hearts. Our hearts are bursting with love. Bursting with care. And bursting with the loss of a way of life. The loss of him home at night, even when it was late night, I knew he was home. The loss of our family being “always together.” He won’t be with us on an out of country trip later this year, because he will be with Tiger Band and can’t be excused. Our family is separating and it’s hard to separate my feelings from facts.

The fact is he’s still ours.

My feelings say he’s moving on.

The fact is he will be back home for breaks.

My feelings says that’s forever away.

The fact is we have done our best.

My feelings say it wasn’t enough.

The fact is he’s a responsible young man.

My feelings say that he still might make the dumbest mistakes.

But all we have now are the years behind us to hold us together. We have spent 18 years of teaching, instructing, disciplining, watching, caring, loving. Whether it’s been enough or not, we have given all we have. And maybe at the end of the day, that’s all it takes. He’s been ours and now we are releasing him to a world that’s so much bigger than us. So that he can do what he’s called to do in his own world of influence. He was ours, but now he’s theirs. May these years be the best years.