Our son Ben recently graduated from high school, and is heading out into the world today. Panama then Paris for almost a month. He is with his girlfriend Nathalie and her parents for the Panama part of it, then he will be only with her for the Paris part. He is 17 going on 30 in some ways. In other ways, my wife and I think he is going on 14. Not really, but sort of because we realize that there is so much for him to learn. The world is a wonderful, but scary place. And he’s just a kid. How will he survive out there on his own in the big bad world without us?
We have spent the past several weeks helping him prepare. Making sure he has everything he could possibly need, and that he has thought through every possible scenario. Drilling into him all the tips and life experiences we can think of. Preparing him for every possible “what if” scenario.
I won’t lie. I am anxious and worried—my default state. I know…this is wasted energy, but I can’t help it. That’s what parents do. And yet, now that he has gone this uneasiness is subsiding. Not exactly peaceful, but certainly not as intense as it was leading up to his departure. A little more settled now.
The truth is, we have been helping him prepare for this moment his whole life. We have taught him everything we know. Given him all the tools we can think of. We have guided him as best we can. And he has taken all these life experiences and evolved into a unique and interesting young man. Ready to take his show on the road. Capable of meeting the challenges that will come his way. It’s up to Ben now.
He may not approach life the way I have, but that might not be such a bad thing. Most of my life has been lived in fear of what’s out there. At 48 I’m only starting to break free of that prison.
He will surely stumble. He will surely fall. Just as we all do. But that’s what life is all about. I need to trust that he will somehow figure things out and find his way, just as we all do.
I am learning that the only way he will create his story, is for us to let him go.
And perhaps in the letting go, there will be peace.