Jewish Journal

A Nightmare 16 Years In The Making

by Ilana Angel

April 9, 2012 | 10:48 pm

It has been a very interesting weekend.  By interesting of course I mean stressful, sad, and frightening.  It was Passover, which was wonderful.  It was my birthday, which was wonderful.  It was also the first time my son took the car out on his own, which was wonderful for him, but sad for me. To be clear, I was painfully proud of him, but also very, very sad.

I am simply not prepared for the emotions of his growing up and taking a step into adulthood.  I have been preparing for this day for 16 years and the fact is, I am not ready.  My entire life is wrapped around this child and I don’t know what I will do when he goes to college and is not living with me. My heart soars with pride and aches with fear, which is unsettling.

This child is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to bed.  He is the great love of my life and there is nothing I would not do in order to make his life better.  His happiness and health are all I have been focused on for 16 years and I do not know how I will manage when he leaves our home.

I have been spending a lot of time with a gentleman friend we’ll call “Daniel”. (That’s #2 for those of you have been following the story.)  He is the father of two daughters, one of which has already gone off to college in another city.  He is a wonderful and connected father so he understands my fear, but is encouraging me to be brave and start letting him go.

I was with Daniel when my boy called to say he was taking the car out on his own, and I think I stopped breathing.  I wanted him to wait until I got home, but Daniel said I needed to allow him the freedom to be a responsible kid instead of making him wait for me, which would have made him a child needing supervision instead of a young adult growing up.

I respect Daniel as a man and a father, but I am convinced nobody can ever understand how much I love my child.  I am certain I love him more than any other parent loves their child.  I was going to not listen to him, but he assured me it would be fine and in the end I let my son go out on his own.  He called 20 minutes later to let me know he was home and safe.

I felt a relief that is indescribable and it made me cry.  I cried because I let him go, cried because he was fine, and cried because I had allowed myself to lean on someone else in terms of my job as a mother.  I have raised him alone and to have back up from Daniel was liberating and exhausting.  Daniel was my friend and guide, and it really mattered.

I don’t know how parents manage when their children have one foot out the door.  Daniel has been through it once and bless his heart because he will face it again in a couple of years.  Daniel loves his children so when I tell him it’s hard for me and he tells me he understands, he actually does.  Being a parent is a blessing, and really hard, but he knows.

My son is an amazing human being.  I know this to be true because it is what I raised him to be.  I would be doing a disservice to all my hard work if I did not now trust him after I have taught him to be so responsible.  He deserves not only love, but my trust and respect.  Instead of focusing on his one foot out the door, I need to embrace the one that is still in.

I had an interesting weekend. By interesting of course I mean exciting, happy, and joyous.  I was able to be a grown up while allowing my son to practice being a grown up.  Daniel made me laugh, eased my worry, and made me flutter.  My son took a giant step towards independence and proved to me that I have been doing a good job as a mother.

I am sure I will cry each and every time my son takes the car out by himself. When he gets his own car, I will be bedridden with fear and anxiety.  I have been terrified of this time for 16 years, but in the end I need to replace my fear with pride.  He is a good boy.  I am a good mother. We will get through these times if we trust, breathe and keep the faith.


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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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