When Your Only Child Prepares to Leave Home

A single parent losing their one constant companion to the U.S. Navy
  1. You sit in the couch, crying.
  2. You drive to work, crying.
  3. You walk by their filthy bedroom and wonder if they are going to leave you with the mess. Then you cry.
  4. You remember all of the fun things you had planned to do or at least done more often with your child. Experiences that would have shown them that life can be fun with little effort. Like a weekly bowling night or spontaneous road trips to see silly attractions or playing more board games or eating cupcakes without using your hands. Then you cry.
  5. You think of all the skills you failed to teach your child. Like how to apply a patch to ripped pants or sew a button back onto a shirt or how to properly use bleach or change the innards in the toilet tank. Then you cry.
  6. You consider how you neglected to share ALL of your hard earned wisdom. Sure you have shared, nagged, directed, discussed, and warned over the years, often in great detail, usually in anger and/or frustration. But was it all clear enough? Then you cry.
  7. You brainstorm how you can deliver that knowledge in a manner that they will finally listen to and absorb like a sponge. After all, you are a walking encyclopedia of how-to's, been there-done that's, don't make the same mistakes, I only want the best for you knowledge. Then you cry.
  8. You feel so relieved that they finally have direction, so hopeful of their future, so proud of their decision, so envious of the grand adventure in front of them, and so fearful that they will screw it up somehow. Then you cry.
  9. You anticipate the loneliness knowing they won't be in their bedroom. Plus, you won't hear the door open when they have been out late at night, signaling their safe return home... so they can close themselves off in their room. Then you cry.
  10. You go to the store for weekly supplies and realize you won't need to buy the twelve pack of toilet paper anymore. Then you cry.
  11. You make a list of the things you plan to finally alter or fix once the house is all yours. Then you cry.
  12. You get excited about those changes you will make, like new curtains and removing all the comic book character plastic drink-ware that fills the kitchen cabinets. Then you cry.
  13. You look forward to the independence that will come to you once they are gone. Time to concentrate on you. Then you cry.
  14. You realize how lucky you were to have them under your roof for a little while longer than your friends had with their children. Then you cry.
  15. You can not wait until the horrible anticipation of their departure will stop eating at your heart, mind and nerves once that dreaded last day arrives. Then you cry.
  16. You use all known methods to keep those unfortunate mood swings that bounce from manic to panic just below the surface. What 21 year old son knows how to talk his mom off this ledge? Then you cry.
  17. You organize a small send-off party for family and close friends. Everyone gets to say farewell, wish him luck and hug him one last time. Each time someone shares an endearment with him, you cry.
  18. You take-off from work to spend their last week at home with them, making them treats, taking them to breakfast or lunch or dinner, to watch them watch TV, do their final load of laundry, sleep, play on their phone, etc. You cry, a lot.
  19. You hardly sleep that last night. Instead, you lay there, fighting the urge to go into their room and hold them in your arms. You cry, even more.
  20. You spend those final hours before you leave for the recruiter's office to release your adult child, counting the minutes, trying to squeeze in every last minute thing that pops into your head, wishing you could hide your anxiety, and stop welling up at each word, while you try to express how truly proud you are of them. You cry, uncontrollably.
  21. You hold their hand on that last drive, attempting happy chit chat between deep breaths and heavy sighs. Moments later, a steady stream of warm tears pour from both eyes and roll down your cheeks as you hug them good-bye and watch as they walk away to the bus headed to MEPS.
  22. You cry in your car in the parking lot, you cry on the drive home, you cry in the driveway, you cry as you walk into the empty, silent and suddenly much bigger house... you cry, you cry, you cry.
  23. You wake up the next morning, listening to the quiet, while you wonder where they are, what they are doing, if they slept, if they had a decent meal, if they cleared the final medical check, and fear that you will get a call to pick them up because they were rejected. You cry, but it's different.
  24. You get the official late night call from them once they arrive at the facility. The call is quick, but you hear the excitement in their voice. They have finally reached their destination, but the journey is just beginning. You feel the words catch in your throat, but the tears wait until their final words. They love you and promise to write.
  25. You are emotional for the next few weeks, but it gets better each day. Why feel bad or sad that your child has finally selected their own future and pursued it? That's what you raise them to do, right? Be independent individuals. So now you wait. In two months you will travel across the country to see them graduate from Basic Training.