It happened in the blink of an eye. So much of how we got here is blurry. I try to parse out the moments that came together to add up to this many years. I pause to absorb fragments, moments of the past.
Hunkering down to watch a spider waiting patiently on her web. I can see his tiny hands balancing on his knees peaking out from his blue overall shorts.
Driving to baseball practice forty minutes from our house and realizing he doesn’t have his shoes twenty-five minutes into the drive. I hate the sound of my voice yelling at him in the car.
The crisp clear day driving home from the hospital twenty-four hours into his life in the world. He only needed a light blanket over his car seat. I narrated the path the car was taking. “Here’s the park where we’ll walk. Here’s our street where your house is.” I could smell him and felt a growing sensation that he needed to nurse soon. I cared about little else than him.
Reading Where the Red Fern Grows at night and agreeing to read one more chapter even though it was late. I can barely remember that comfortable proximity to each other’s bodies. Now he is a young man. The occasional hug is the extent of our bodily contact. All those years of carrying him, helping him put his socks and shoes on, having him sit on my lap at music class, holding him while he cried after a scooter mishap, rocking him to sleep, are over now.
Something is over. Emotion is welling up in me. I am not quite able to release it, to completely feel it. It is too much. But the day is fast approaching when I know it will wash over me by necessity. I have a sense of foreboding about that day, even as I am thankful and gratified that such a day is approaching. There are many things that challenged us. Many things could have brought us to a very different juncture in the summer of 2018. The thing I dread, therefore, is a thing I also am called to relish, to savor, to celebrate.
It is the strange walk this mother is on toward taking my first born to college in just a few days. He will be two thousand miles away from home. He is ready to go. In many ways, I am ready for him to go. Most parents can relate to the untenable place you get to when your child is ready to fly the nest—they need to go, they have outgrown the space, you have become a complete idiot in their eyes, and things like curfews and talking about the day together are an utter annoyance to them.
So it’s time for him to go, but there is deep grief in this monumental touchstone of the passage of time. He will always be my son, but this phase of our relationship is coming to a close. I am grateful, I am distressed, I am relieved, I am heartsick, I am hopeful, I am sad, I am expectant. And I will need a couple of days to myself to mark this moment when a dream come true and a rude awakening converge to usher me into a new way of being connected and detached simultaneously to my son.
Motherhood is ambiguous, idiosyncratic, and cellular no matter the packaging. Therein lies its promise, its heartbreak, and any hope it carries with it for true joy and good growth.
Marcia Mount Shoop is an author, theologian, and minister. She is the Pastor/Head of Staff at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC. Her newest book, released from Cascade Books in October 2015, is A Body Broken, A Body Betrayed: Race, Memory, and Eucharist in White-Dominant Churches, co-authored with Mary McClintock Fulkerson. Marcia is also the author of Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and the Body of Christ (WJKP, 2010) and Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports (Cascade, 2014). Find out more at www.marciamountshoop.com