I recently opened a letter addressed to my son from Ohio State University. I figured why not, I should handle his business while he’s spending his summer working hard earning additional credit hours to get a few more steps ahead. And I wanted to know what was going on academically that he hadn’t shared with me. Fingers crossed, here’s what I found in the letter:
Congratulations! By earning a 3.9 grade-point average … you have qualified for the College of Engineering Dean’s List. This achievement is exemplary! You are contributing significantly to the reputation of academic excellence and leadership enjoyed nationally by the College of Engineering at Ohio State University. We are very proud of your accomplishments.
My daughter and I were in the car, still in front of our house when I opened that letter. I just sat there, unmoving, crying. Then my sensitive, intuitive little girl noted, “I think you have happy tears on your face, Mommy.” “Yes,” I replied, “I’m very proud of your brother.” Without even asking why, the adoring little sister agreed.
In a few days, he’s about to have his 19th birthday, but it seems like just yesterday I was hovering over my baby son’s crib, crying because he had turned 6 months-old that day. Geez. You all are going to think I’m a big cry-baby after reading this one. I’m not really. No, seriously. I only cry when my kids make me extraordinarily happy. And when I watch Troy. And when I drink hard liquor. And …
It’s no secret how I miss my son these days. For many years, it was just him and me, and we’d never been apart for more than one week at a time. It’s also no secret how my boy has been more than a handful as he’s grown, outspoken and willful from the moment of birth. Today I hover unsuccessfully, though I clearly see a strong, motivated, intelligent young man building a good life all his own. It’s time for me to allow that, I know. But you should know he’s been forewarned; I have no doubt I will involuntarily be a terrifying mother-in-law to his someday significant other. “I know that, Mom,” he aloofly tells me each time I issue the warning.
Maybe my unusual sappiness of late is just common motherhood nostalgia. Perhaps the robin that abandoned her nest in our yard —leaving behind one unhatched egg— may have been delivering a message to me. Still, I have to wonder, can you have empty nest syndrome with one still at home?
Happy birthday, Dude.