In the past few weeks I have been saddened at the thought of my youngest son going off to college. I know this is tougher for me this year after having lost both of my parents and having the oldest son graduate from college - while living at home - and moving to Kansas. Tonight I am sitting in a motel room in Marshall, MN watching my son sleep and instead of being sad, I am feeling like a very lucky woman. Jamie is 18, focused on what he wants to do in life, and very passionate about getting the education that will move him towards those goals. He is mature and ready for this phase in his life. His choice in colleges was a well thought out and logical decision on his part. We arrived here this afternoon after a six-hour journey in two cars. We explored the town and went out for dinner. He made me laugh until tears were literally streaming from my eyes. He is so excited about college and is approaching it with curiosity instead of fears. I will miss him and he may experience some feelings of home sickness, but this is the way life is supposed to work. If I shed a tear tomorrow on leaving, I will do so steadfast in the knowledge that this is right.
I have further reflected on my other two sons tonight. I suspect that is normal during a pretty life-altering event. Chris is in Kansas working in an aerospace engineering company. His actual project is secret, but when he mentions it at all, he does so with pride and enthusiasm for what he does. He is taking advantage of the tuition-paid college classes his company provides him and is working on his engineering degree while working about 60 hours a week right now. A few years ago, Chris had trouble deciding which direction he wanted his life to go in and now he is thriving. Again, he is farther away than I would prefer, but what mother could want more for her child than to hear absolute joy about what he is doing? I am proud beyond words.
Tony has also struggled at finding his path in life. He is in his third year at our local technical institute and on his third program. He is studing auto mechanics and has taken a second job working in a garage. Tony has ADHD and to be honest, I am shocked he is continuing his education. He struggled in school every year and graduation was a major accomplishment. He still struggles, but firmly believes that he has to have an education to get ahead in life. Tony often presents me with challenges, but when I take a step back and realize how far he has come, I can only be amazed.
Do I sound like a proud mother? Well, I am. Day to day life with three sons has had its moments - good and bad. My divorce from their father 8 1/2 years ago was traumatic and trying for all of us. But we all survived and have gotten to a point where I am watching my little boys turn into incredible young men. While I would like to take the credit, it isn't that easy. The one thing I do seem to have passed on to my children in my love of learning and my belief that education unlocks doors. Seeing it in action only inspires me to pass that on to my students. I know they short time I have within the classroom makes it harder than with the long-term relationships with my sons, but I still believe I have the power to influence and that makes getting up each morning exciting.
Tomorrow I leave this college freshman in his dorms and go home to prepare for my 8th graders. How sad can I really be?