I used to wonder how and why other moms with kids would cry when their child went off to preschool, went off to kindergarten, off to middle school, high school, graduate, etc. I never understood it because my reality was so different with a special needs child. By the time kindergarten arrived, my son was more reluctant to get on his first school bus than I was to let him get on it. No tears, just a "see you this afternoon!" He was the one with the tears.
Oh, my tears came, and often, but they were tears from stress, from being overwhelmed with not knowing what to do with my circumstances, the strains of his needs, especially when they were undiagnosed. Tears from hearing a doctor tell me she thought he needed to be locked up like a criminal at age 5, when all he really had was a substantial fear of doctors offices ,dentist offices, shots, etc. Tears from a preschool who didn't know how to handle his emerging needs. Tears when it took a 2 week mental hospital stay at the age of 7, to get a diagnosis. Tears from seeing countless times the phone would ring and it was school, and I just knew I wasn't going to want to hear what they were about to tell me about his conduct. Tears from seeing the stress rippling through my family in a destructive way. Tears from home visits from the police department, the crisis intervention officers. Tears when I thought there was nothing left. Nothing good.
But today, I watched my 21 year old son leave for the airport to move back to the only place we've lived where he felt happy. He made this decision on his own, decided where he was going to put his life together, and I let him go. It is all up to him to make it work. I am too far away now to pick him up if he falls down. He gets to do that for himself now. I am proud of him. He's made a bold, brash, brave decision and I have put on a brave front. It is only partially a front, which I was forced to acknowledge today when I had to let my declarations of peace with his move and declarations of "I'm fine" find substance. Seeing him leave this morning, knowing he was not going to be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas for the first time, was harder than I ever imagined. So, more tears. And the powerful, unexpected tears of my husband, whom I nearly never see cry.
So in this month for giving thanks, I say to God, Thank You. Thank You for sending me my son, even with the storms that came with his needs. Thank You for sending the tears 16 years later than I imagined. Thank You for letting me be his mother, even with the countless times I questioned Your WHY. I am thankful for Matthew and I leave him in Your hands, Lord. Please keep him safe and draw him back to You. Thank You for loving him more than I can.