My only child, Jake, heads to college this weekend. And those empty nest feelings are hitting me hard. My little boy who used to wear a superhero cape to preschool has grown into a young man, and I’m wondering where the time went!
I cried the morning of his last official day of high school before all the fun senior stuff began. I packed his lunch for what seemed the millionth time, made his breakfast and then sat at the table with him and cried. I was sad that his tininess was gone; that my “job” of being his mom would never be the same.
I’ve heard the term “empty nest” for a long time but I never understood it until now because it wasn’t me having to deal with it. It was just an idea before, and now it’s a reality. I’m going to be on my own.
That said, I’m so happy that Jake will be staying relatively close to home. He’ll be attending a wonderful private Christian University (his first choice) in San Diego that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. I know I shouldn’t complain when so many of my friends’ graduates are leaving for universities that are many states away.
I do admit that Jake’s decision to stay close to home makes me wonder what role my MS has played in it. I wonder if he wanted to remain in San Diego because of me, his mom who gets sick sometimes and doesn’t have a husband to help care for her when he’s away. I wonder if there’s been too much pressure on him to fill this supportive role for me.
I always wanted my son to dream big and follow his heart, wherever it leads him. But deep down I hoped he’d stay close by when it came time for college. Should I feel guilty because of that, or is that a feeling that all moms have? Should I wonder “what if” I didn’t have MS and “what if” he didn’t have the responsibility of being the man of the house?
My mind goes to these places often as Jake prepares to leave our comfy nest. I keep telling myself that there’s very little good that can come from my thinking about what could have been if things were different, if I were healthy.
Because the reality is that I do have MS and that Jake and I are such a great team, possibly because of the MS trials we’ve gone through together. He’s empathetic and caring and mature, and I have no doubt my MS had at least a little of something to do with that too. Life makes us who we are, and I’m so proud of who my son has become and the amazing future he has in front of him. Godspeed, Jake-bear!