Skyler and I drove passed farming towns, orchards of almond trees and agricultural fields on the way to University of the Pacific based on an invitation from the head soccer coach. We drove Highway 99 instead of Interstate 5 to show him an alternate route as proof of my need to teach him to be resilient, self-reliant and resourceful.
To instill independence and a sense of adventure, I teased Sky that he would get a suitcase for his 18th birthday. No lie, this is also to justify my own free spirit and wanderlust. The plan is to fill that suitcase with candy kisses, a travel journal, angel wings, cash, gas card, etc. The plan was to be happy for him.
And yet as I sat in downtown Stockton, I cried – so very sad that my little boy is actually leaving me. Memories of his early childhood flooded my thoughts as I looked around an old time movie theater turned coffee house. He could be doing his homework here one day with people I didn’t know – a life far away from me. I didn’t want him to go.
Then he called and said he twisted his injury-prone ankle and would I please get him some Advil right away. I slammed my journal shut. My baby needed me. I bought Advil, Arnica, first-aid wrap, an ice pack, and raced to the field. Panicked, I realized I left my phone at Walgreens and raced back to the store and then back to the lot to wait. And wait.
As an hour passed, I think of line I feed my boys when life presents difficulties, “Do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?” I am so proud they have ambition, positive attitude and drive to look for answers. In turn, I try to be a model of strength and possibilities – even if that means dancing and laughing between jobs, through nights of fear and days of uncertainty. I close my eyes and settle into my heart where I find the faith that I am always protected and safe, just as my boys are.
Finally acceptance settled in. Yes, he would leave me. Isn’t that what I have prepared him to do?
Finally he bounces up like Tigger; the trainer had wrapped his ankle. He says he showed really well, made an incredible assist and the coach really likes him. He downs the Advil and runs off to treat them to some more of his brilliant foot work. Next day we tour the gorgeous grounds of the university. I have another meltdown, then bounce back up like Tigger, just like my son…