“Grow Away”

About 10 years ago I was walking home with the boys from the swimming pool in our neighborhood. Jake was almost five, Sammy was three, Benjamin was a year old and Danny was hanging around in my belly. Jake and I fell to the back of the walk and just as we were heading from the street to the house Jake noticed a baby bird lying in the gutter. It was obviously dead. Jake stood there holding my hand for a bit looking down at the crumpled bird.

“What happened?” Jake asked me.

“I don’t know hon. Maybe it fell from that tree and died.” I responded, squinting and looking up at the tree near us.

“Why didn’t his momma save him?” Jake asked.

“I’m sure she tried honey. I’m sure she did her best to keep him safe but sometimes things happen that we can’t control.” He still stood there staring.

“Come on, let’s go into the house.” I whispered.

“Mom,” Jake said, “I just want to stay here with him for a minute.”

“Okay hon. I’ll be inside.”

I went to the door and looked back at that little boy staring at the baby bird.

That little boy is almost 15 now. He left yesterday for a three day education camp at William and Mary College. I dropped him off for his trip and couldn’t stop myself from yelling to him as he gathered his bags to walk into the school:

“Make good choices; don’t do drugs; call me every night! Oh, oh, have fun!”

He rolled his eyes and smiled, swinging his suit bag over his shoulder. As he walked toward the school I kept mouthing advice trying my best to send it to him via “momma-kenisis”.

Is it just natural that I think about the worst possible things that can happen while he’s away? It takes everything I have to not sit and fret about him the entire time he’s gone. It was raining when they left on the bus. My imagination was reeling. I worried about them getting into an accident. I worried that a bus tire would blow, and in my mind I could “see” the bus careening to the side of the highway, making all sorts of violent stops and starts and ending as a smouldering ball of twisted metal. I worried he would try to be a hero and not just get himself out of danger if the bus was on fire.

Why do I do this to myself?

Despite my anxiety, I didn’t call him. Not calling him has taken about everything I have. I did let his brother text him way past phone text curfew. I debriefed Sam after every text, wanting to hear all the “boring” details about what was happening in that world I couldn’t see.

I guess all mothers go through this.

I really think, as a mom my primary focus should be teaching my children how to “grow away”. Giving them the tools they need to be successful without me; whether that’s ordering their own food when they’re three, doing their own laundry when they’re ten, or learning to think, really think about what’s important versus trivial crap like the latest electronic gadget, or “must have” sneakers.

Jake called me first thing this morning. He asked me the question he asks me first thing in the morning almost every day:

“What’re you making for supper tonight?”

I smiled into the phone and said “Cheeseburgers and french fries.”

“Stop it…” he moaned.

The fact that he wouldn’t be home for cheeseburgers and french fries was too much for him to bear.

“I’ll save you one for tomorrow.” I said.

“Thanks mom.” Jake replied. “I love you.” he added.

I hung up the phone knowing that my little bird missed his nest.

My little bird is growing into a very, very fine young man and this momma won’t stop worrying until he’s back home and safe in his bed.

I know as hard as it is;

it’s my job to teach him to fly.

It’s my job to help him leave the nest, spread his wings and take

those first few jumps.

I know it’s my job to be here for him; to steady him when he


It’s my job to make sure if he falls,

he has a soft place to land.


2 responses to ““Grow Away”

  1. I’m feeling this too as the college materials have been arriving daily for my daughter. I still can’t believe she’ll be a senior next year and then go off to college. Makes my stomach hurt.

  2. )))HUG(((

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