Dear Son, Before You Go

I realize I’m not a minority and there are other moms in my shoes but I wanted to share my experience for others who have felt this way or those who are close to this time in their life. I’m talking about an experience that no mom looks forward to: dropping a child off for college.

My son at kindergarten graduation.
My son at kindergarten graduation.

Ok I know there may be a few who do, but that wasn’t me and I needed to do something for the occasion.

A few days before my son was born I wrote him a letter. It was a letter that described the hope I was filled with and the fear I was experiencing about being responsible for a tiny human. That’s what I did before the most significant day of his life so why not now?

More than 18 years later, I wrote a letter to him about this new journey he was about to embark on. I wanted to send my son off with words from my heart; words he could take with him. Words before he goes.

Dear Son,

Every night I turn off the porch light, reluctantly lock the front door, and quietly face the internal struggle that you won’t be home. As I shut the television off and close the house up for the night I am constantly hoping that you will walk in from a late shift at the neighborhood theater and then in a split second reality hits me. Sadness now takes over. It’s a sadness full of should haves and could haves topped with a little guilt and regret. It is the sadness a mom feels when her child is grown and she thinks of what she should have or could have done before you go.

You’ve started a new chapter in your life and ended a chapter in my life as a mom. What a horrible analogy. Yep I just realized in this case I don’t like that analogy. What makes it so bad is that unlike my favorite novel I can’t re-live this chapter just by opening the book again. The page has turned and we have to move on. It’s a book you can never read again. I am learning to accept that.

Right now is a wonderful time for you. I know you are full of excitement about your new freedom, pride from your accomplishments, hopeful about your future, and, yes, even fear of being on your own. At the same time I share in those very same emotions. I’m unbelievably proud, very hopeful, somewhat nervous, but then I also have this indescribable emotion. It’s a combination of depression, confusion, anguish, and insecurity. While you are trying to find yourself and while you learn to navigate this world on your own I will be left learning how to let you be you.

Now do not misunderstand. You are not alone and I will always be here but it will never be in the same capacity as it was for the first 18 years of your life. My home will always be your home, I will always be here to listen, and if you ever need a hug, I’m here. Always. My new role now will be to watch from the sideline and offer advice with the knowledge that you may or may not take it. I will learn to step back and watch you fly. As time progresses I will be filled with many more emotions and build on the current ones. You will start many new journeys and end several more all while gaining knowledge and experience.

This time is important, but before you go and live your life I want to say a few things. I want to say what I should have when you were here with me. I want to tell you before you go because life is precious and you need to know.

First, I need you to know that no matter how old you are, you will always be my baby. I don’t care how big you get or how old you are, you are forever my baby. However, I can and will promise that there will be no “I’ll Love You Forever” climbing in windows, creeping across floors, stalking moments happening. It’s a cute book, but not my style. I will stick to phone calls, holiday visits, and road trips to see you.

Second, I want you to know how hard I tried for you. From the minute I knew I was pregnant I wanted to be a better person for you. You were an unexpected, pleasant surprise that changed the course of not only my history but yours. I wanted to become the mom you deserved and I tried to make all my decisions with that in mind. Whenever anyone tells me I’m a good mom I know that you are the most important factor in that outcome. The second I held you I had two choices, be a good not perfect mom who makes mistakes but keeps trying, or be a lady with a baby. I’m not much of a lady.

My son his Senior year.
My son his Senior year.


The last thing you should know before you go is life is hard, you will fail, and things don’t always work out, but that’s ok. I know that sounds like four things but you should really just focus on the last part of that sentence. Things will be ok. There are a lot of things I could have done but there is one thing I know I did well and that is instill a sense of determination and fight in you. I’ve seen you face adversity and come back stronger. I have witnessed you learn from mistakes, even if it takes a few attempts, and I have watched you grow into an incredible young adult ready to face whatever life gives you. You are ready and you will be ok.

Love You More Than You Will Ever Know,
Your Mom

Dear Son, Before You Go


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