3 days from today I will move my oldest child to college for the first time. We will move and organize and decided where this and that will reside for the next 9 months. I will stand in front of this person who I have nurtured for 18 years and say goodbye. I will kiss his forehead, hug him tight, say be careful, I love you, goodbye. If I can move on mentally after imagining this scenario, It brings to mind the other big goodbye moments in my life with him. The goodbye when he was 15 months old before going on a well needed parent break vacation. The goodbye at age 4 when I dropped him off at preschool. The huge milestone first day of kindergarten goodbye. The trust and courage it took to give him to someone else for the day was so huge. In my mind I was holding my precious child like a fragile baby bird carefully in my hand. I then had to place him in a big, loud, colorful room full of chaos and strangers, turn my back and walk away. Call it dramatic but many of you will totally understand. For a while the goodbyes, although still nostalgic, were less painful. Goodbye for that first sleepover. Goodbye to elementary school and then middle school (that was a happy moment for us both!) There was the goodbye at the airport as he flew to Europe for 16 days, so nervous and excited for him! The goodbye when he drove away solo for the first time. Then finally the goodbye to high school. After each of these goodbyes I knew life would pick back up much the same way as before. He would be back in his bedroom each night, he would be with us sitting around the dinner table. I would remind him to turn off lights, take care of his water glass, and PLEASE brush his teeth. I would ask him how many days had it been since a shower and order his dirty laundry up to the washing machine. We would have deep conversations before he went to bed, and at all times of the day I would listen to (not necessarily understand) him talking about various computer related topics. We watched movies together that his younger brother and sister were not ready for yet. We’ve been through such joy and such pain together, bonding through life experiences. Now for that biggest goodbye. My brain is taking me all the way back to that first day of kindergarten. My baby bird. Now, however, it is a man that I am releasing into the world. A man who has so much to share, so much to contribute. The world needs to know him and his talent, and he needs to know the world and learn from it. Sure, he’ll be back, but I don’t think it will be the same. He’ll have experienced a new level of independence and I’m sure I will continue to take more and more parental steps back. It goes without saying that I am so excited for him, it also goes without saying that I am worried for him. I am after all, his Mom. I will indeed say goodbye to my son on Monday but I will watch him say hello to a whole new world. Please world, be kind to my child. I love you Collin, be careful…I’ll see you soon.