The Lessons I’ve Learned from my (almost) 18 year old Son

By Abby Bordner

My son is a senior in high school, my first born. He’s counting down the 6 weeks until the end of his last semester. It’s an exciting time for him and our whole family.

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I must admit, I’ve felt strong and positive about his next move into adulthood. He’ll be going to college; something he’s been sure about for at least a few years. I’m excited and ready, as a mom, to fledge my son into the world. I’ve thought, at times, “I’ve got this! Why do people say it’s hard? Why is this upsetting for some parents? I’m ready. He’s ready. Here we go!”

But lately I’ve been traveling some waves of reflection, nostalgia, worry and insecurity. Wow!! He’ll be 18 years old soon. I’m complete on my parenting journey with him. I know, I know. I’m not done. We’ll be in relationship for the rest of our lives and I’ll always be his mother. But really, this is the completion of his childhood and my role to keep him safe, nourish him, guide him and look after him. He’s an amazing young man and I’m so proud. And in my most centered place, I know it’s time for the ultimate letting go.

My son has really helped me learn about myself. When he was born, I was so full, so happy, so complete. I wanted nothing more than to be a mom for many years before he came. I saw myself in him; I could anticipate his needs and his responses to new situations. We really are similar in so many ways. He’s thoughtful and hesitant. He needed reassurance about new situations. He sometimes worried about being left or alone. His security came from being together with me.

The truth is, when I love my son so unconditionally and wholly, I have learned to love the parts of myself that I saw in him. I’m scared sometimes, too. I need reassurance, I like my relationships to offer me security that ensures my safety, my love and connection. Being a mom to my son has given me so many opportunities to grow and learn. I have so much love, compassion and patience for his needs, that I’ve developed that for myself, too.

I’ve always thought that being a parent is a huge opportunity to become a better person. I’ve seen my rage, my exhaustion, my flaws as I parent my son. I’ve apologized, committed to loving more, loving better. The innocence of my son gave me the chance to try again, start over, seize a new day. There is always a chance to be better. I’m so grateful for this. I’ve forgiven myself when I needed to and kept on loving.

I’ve never known the love I feel for my children. It’s a pool so deep, so wide that nothing will ever get lost. There’s space for all of us, flaws and all. There’s acceptance, accountability and constant, unstoppable love. For this, I am grateful. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned through parenting. The love is constant, no matter what. As I send my son into the world, I thank him for giving me the opportunity to know myself more and rise to the call to become a better person.

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