The Big Send Off

Goodbye to Graham

Goodbye to Graham

I’ve loved seeing all the back to school pics today on Facebook. It really does seem like just yesterday, I was loading my boys up to take them to those first days of elementary school each fall.  I drove them crazy because I loved school supplies and new clothes too much and they could’ve cared less!  It was a 1000 times worse when I took them to summer camp 9 hours away in Missouri.  For a few years, they let me make their bunk perfect and get their clothes organized for them, but I finally let that go and put them on the bus knowing that they wouldn’t even unpack half of the special things packed for them in their trunks. One year, I think Benji never even took his bathing suit out and swam in gym shorts because he didn’t know he had a bathing suit! Not to mention the stamped and addressed stationary that came back in the trunk wet and torn, but unused.

I know many of you are well beyond those early days and sending your boys to camp is no longer a big deal, but many of you are embarking on new territory in the coming days in sending your son off to college, so this is especially written for you tonight.

Seeing all the sweet pictures of your kids today, I was reminded of the “big send off” I had with my oldest son Graham two years ago.  He’s starting his Junior year at Stanford and plays football there, so he had to go two months earlier than all of his friends in June of 2012.

This is what I posted that day on facebook after a tearful goodbye.  I hope it encourages those of you tonight who may be struggling with letting go.  Whether he’s 6 or 19, it’s as big a step as a mom as it is for your son.  Take a breath, a long walk, have a good cry…. do whatever you need to do to release all of those emotions that are brimming up to the surface of your entire being.  My only advice is don’t cry to him…. he needs to know you are going to be ok.  He doesn’t need to worry about taking care of you right now.  He needs to know you believe he’s ready and that you’re not going to fall apart without him.

from June 22, 2012 “I heard someone say that when you have kids, it’s like “having your heart walk outside your body“.  I’ve experienced that for many years, but today most profoundly as a huge part of my heart named Graham Shuler is embarking on his next chapter and boarding a plane for CA in a few minutes.   I know you mamas out there understand the bittersweet overwhelming emotions… hard to contain… I’m grateful that we had the sweetest goodbye I could’ve ever hoped for with my amazing son.  And grateful that Southwest has a lot of flights to Stanford!!! The boys tried to help lighten the moment by getting on their phones at our last breakfast as a joke. (See pic above).

A little while later, Graham posted this tweet and I couldn’t stop crying.  I always told him that he was better than any Grammy award I could’ve won as a singer.  He knew that I lost some “golden opportunities” along the way in order to be a full time single mom . I’m grateful that I was able to sing enough to make a living, but be home to raise my sons at the same time. I know it’s a luxury many women can’t afford. (SidebarIf you are a mom working outside your home… know that there’s NO condemnation here… only love and prayers for you and yours!)    

Graham's tweet 2012 leaving for Stanford

Graham’s tweet 2012 leaving for Stanford

My first visit to Stanford that fall was one of the sweetest reunions I’ve ever known. We’d never been separated for so long in his whole life.  I still remember how weird it felt walking up to the practice field and for the first time in 19 years, not recognizing my son in a nanosecond!  He had changed dramatically in a short time and for someone like me, who could recognize his right calf in a picture posted online at his summer camp, that was a pretty huge deal for both of us!  We had a good laugh about it and we’ve been enjoying a new chapter ever since.

There’s an ease now in our relationship since he’s 21 and I’m no longer the “disciplinarian”. I send care packages and offer love and prayers, most of the time from far away.  I see him on game weekends, but it’s pretty crazy, so it’s a gift to get to share a meal with him.  We’ve both grown in huge ways!   No pun intended, but Graham weighs almost 300 pounds now. Stanford wants him to be that big to start at Center this coming season. I wish i had an excuse, but I’ve actually grown in my love for wine and enjoying life more, so maybe I’ve gained some “sympathy pounds” with him like husbands do when their wives are pregnant.  Seriously, I’m so proud of all that Graham has endured as an elite level college football player and student.  I’m so grateful that while thousands of miles divide me from him, he is always “IN” my heart and in my prayers.

Hang in there sweet mamas, good days are ahead! Much peace to you tonight. ❤

If you liked this post, please comment here so we can connect and share with your friends.   If you’d like to connect with other “BoyMamas” please check out the BoyMama weekend I’m hosting in October at The Nashville Treehouse.  Click here for more info.

first time seeing Graham at Stanford Fall 2012

first time seeing Graham at Stanford Fall 2012