Last night I had a dinner date with my 23 year old son, Graham. We were both worn out and just happy to be sitting at the same table to eat, which is a rarity for us these days. We talked of his new opportunities as a recent Stanford graduate — and yes,forgive me as I brag on his enormous accomplishment. I’m so proud of Graham for his ability to be a student while starting as Center in football at the highest college level (3 Rose Bowls in his 4 years!). As many of you know, he’s decided to pass on his last year of playing college and chose not to pursue the NFL with many of his teammates a few months ago.
As I kissed Graham goodbye last night (after his whirlwind visit home to Nashville), my heart was flooded with memories of so many of the times I kissed him goodbye. Now, I go for months without seeing one of my favorite faces on the planet.
I remember kissing that little face at the door of his Kindergarten class, as he and his little brother left with their dad on Christmas Day the first year we were divorced, at his first overnight camp, at his new school in 7th grade and as he left 4 years ago for Stanford. I cried many times when I said goodbye to Graham, especially in that first year in California when he was struggling to adjust and “red-shirted” which means you work as hard as everyone, but you don’t get to play the first year so that you can play if/when they need you a fifth year.
Last night, I didn’t cry. We’re beyond that now (well, he is and most of the time I am), but my heart still aches a bit when he leaves. This morning my eyes have filled with tears several times as I’ve thought about him and all the life we’ve experienced together. As an empty nester, there are days I long for some of those sweet nights I sat on his bed talking with him for what seemed like hours (he was a brilliant philosopher at bedtime) while he ate my “homemade” slice and bake cookies and milk.
We had a little text this morning (my gentle giant even uses emojis now with me because he knows I love them!) as he was leaving town. As I wrote back to him, my heart was overwhelmed. I texted “ I love you more than you’ll probably ever really know”. Graham knows I love and adore him, but as much as he knows, I don’t know if he really believes how unconditional my mother love is for him. I didn’t plan to say it, it just popped out as my heart was flooded with that same love I’ve had since I first saw his face on that 10lb 4 oz body, 23 years ago after a long delivery that turned into a C-section.
Like most moms I know, we haven’t had an easy ride. We’ve “been to hell and back” as they say on more than one occasion and he’s broken my heart in ways he doesn’t even know. And, I’m very aware that even in my best attempts at being a great mom, I’m not without fault and have failed him and wounded his tender heart. But, at the end of the day, we have a lot of love for each other that covers both of our faults and mistakes. Early on, we began building a real relationship that is now becoming a friendship and as he enters into the adult world. We’ve both worked on letting go, forgiveness, understanding and speak as honestly as we know how. I look forward to everytime I get to be with my adult son. I’ve also done the painful and rewarding work to truly let him go to become the best version of himself that he can be.
I’ve had tears in my eyes writing this blog this morning as I’m continually reminded of my life’s work…. being a mom to Graham and Benji. That’s one of the main reasons I’m hosting another BoyMama Weekend with The Nashville Treehouse this Fall. It’s a safe place for us to be honest about the “good, bad and ugly” of raising a son. I want to help moms like you have the tools and tips to have a great relationship with your son. I’ve enlisted the help of an expert, David Thomas, and other seasoned BoyMamas. I hope you’ll check out the info at the BoyMama Weekend link above and consider joining us at one of the most beautiful farms in Franklin, TN in October.