When your 19 year old son calls you at 11:45pm on a Sunday night because he needs to talk to you, you pick up and shut up about the lateness of the hour. You listen and rejoice inside because your baby-turned-man-overnight still needs you.
Nicolas has always been the kind of kid that will talk about something when he is ready. Not before, and not after. If I would have picked up the phone and said "Son, it's late and I have to get up for work in the morning and can I call you about this tomorrow?", he would have said "fine" but then tomorrow would come and he would have told me "never mind, I figured it out."
And I would have missed the opportunity to be there for him.
Those times seem to be fewer and farther between these days. He is out of the house, living on his own, going to college, serving in the army and paying his own bills. He's the third of our six to fly the coop, so we have had some practice at this already...but this is my firstborn and even though I knew this day would come, I never really imagined this day actually coming...
...not when my kids were little anyway. When they needed me all the time, it was easier to be their mom. I saw them everyday and knew who they were with and what they were doing and if they were eating/sleeping/happy/sad/mad/scared/safe. During those years, I don't think I would have described it as easier. But what I am realizing now is that while parenting gets less exhausting physically, I think emotionally it gets harder. At least it does for me. As they get older and more independent it gets scarier and as they leave the safety of solid ground and wade into deeper waters, I find myself standing on the shore longing for the days when I could keep them close. They don't want to hear me yell warnings to watch out for sharks, or to wear a life jacket, or not get caught up in the currents. They want to go their own way, charter their own course, face the dangers and navigate the waves on their own.
Yet, as I was reminded by a phone call at 11:45pm on a Sunday night, they do still want to know that they have a lighthouse waiting for them on the shore. One that will always be there, shining a light to guide them home. To provide for them a hot meal and a warm bed and a reprieve from the harsh reality of the sea, even just for a night. And then, just for a night, I get to cherish being needed. I get to be mom. Not that I want our kids to remain dependent on us forever, that doesn't prepare them for life and it's not loving. I know that. But I'm still learning to balance the holding on and the letting go. It's a process...a journey that I think I will be on for a while.