Letting Go

“Is there anything to eat?”
I think that’s maybe what I’ll miss the most–my hungry boy saying those words to me, in person or on the phone, usually multiple times on any given day.  I almost cried this weekend watching him fight his way through the mob in the cafeteria, trying to fill up his plate with meat.  I wished he could just sit down somewhere and wait while I sauteed a pan of boneless chicken tenders, just the way he likes them.
We left him at Notre Dame yesterday, about to begin his big adventure.  I’m not worried about him.  I’ve been through four years of college with one kid already and I know we will all be okay.  But I also know that things will never be the same.  Teddy is in many ways a closed book to me, with his own thoughts and his own life that he does not share.  But he still relies on me for certain things, and that is going to change.
When he was little, when he needed me, he would say, “Hold mine hand.”  He didn’t want to hold hands for long, just for a few seconds, until he felt better.  He’s always been good at letting go.  But he let me hold his hand this weekend, and he didn’t make a fuss when I played with his beautiful, thick, too-long hair.   He hugged me good-bye, and when I cried he hugged me again.
I was the one to let go, to say good-bye and turn and walk away.  One morning you go to a hospital, and you leave with a baby.  Eighteen years later, you go to a college, and leave without one.
Maybe only a mother can look at a six foot 260-lb. man and see her baby.  But I do.
Teddy Pumpkin
ND goodbye 3
Letting Go
UPDATE: This morning Teddy left to begin his Senior year at Notre Dame. The good-byes definitely get easier, but the homecomings are no less exciting! As I expected when I wrote this, we have seen less and less of Teddy. He came home that first summer, but worked in Chicago the following summer and was in in Stamford, Connecticut this summer. His end-of-summer visit home this year was interrupted by trips to New York City and San Francisco for job interviews. But he still likes me to feed him when he is home, and I find he still depends on us for help with a few things, even as he heads toward becoming a full-fledged adult.
UPDATE PART II:  Teddy graduated in May 2017 and moved to San Francisco in July.   


53 Responses

  1. Helga says:

    It is such a helpless feeling when your kids leave. My son moved overseas 2 years ago and I miss him so much….

  2. Michelle G says:

    Beautifully written. I thought those very words about leaving the hospital with a baby, the biggest, most awesome responsibility of your life, and then driving away eighteen years later, knowing I’ll see her again but that our relationship has changed forever.

  3. Lisa says:

    Big hugs, Leslie. I don’t know that it matters that he’s not your first that you’re leaving at school–he’s uniquely him, and you’ll miss him. Something tells me he’ll miss you too. xoxo

  4. I have 8 more years…. and I already dread it. Though I know it’s also so wonderful to see them grow. But never the same.
    So sweet, best wishes to you both.

  5. So very sweet and poignant – we practice letting go all their lives, but it’s still so hard.

  6. Maggie May says:

    So true, so lovely.

  7. This made me cry. I’m crying. So beautiful, Leslie. I’m listening to Oliver’s little voice while I read this and I just became overwhelmed with emotion.
    You’re a good Mama.
    Sending love to all of you.

  8. Karen says:

    I am not so good at letting go! I still cry and worry and my “babies” are only a few miles from me now! I miss Ashley getting up in the mornings telling me the exact time she woke up. She has done this since she could tell time. Michael, my boy! Boy what a mess he can be at times, I still miss him always saying “I’m hungry” when he got up in the mornings! I hate them not needing me any more!! I am the one left feeling alone! Thank you God that I still have Mariah with me!!!

    • lesliesholly says:

      I guess I am lucky in that I don’t have the kind of mind that holds on to worries. When my kids aren’t around I am pretty much able to let go of all that. And I think the kids will always need you!

  9. Ashley says:

    I’m stopping over from CWBN to say hello! This post was lovely. My oldest is only six, so I can’t imagine a time when he won’t be here. What an accomplishment for your son! I hope you both are doing well.

  10. Michele says:

    Aww, what a touching post. it is hard to leave kids at college. When I left my daughter in law school in California, I think I cried half the way back to Wisconsin.

  11. Lovely post Leslie. I hope you continue to do well and that Teddy shines.
    Fridays Blog Booster Party #20

  12. Cook With a Shoe says:

    Thank you for sharing your pin with the Pinterest Game! I know you will love cooking for him again when he comes home on vacation.

  13. I’m right there with you! My son just moved out and it was heart breaking.

  14. mamacarmody says:

    Yes, no matter how big they get, we still see our baby.

  15. Crystal says:

    There are many days I am thinking, “I can do it. Only three more years.” Despite this, I know I will still be terribly sad when my first goes to college.

  16. katehardin says:

    I can only image how heart breaking this will be. I still have about 17 years or so before I face this. I remember when my parents moved me to school…. They are divorced but they both (along with my older brother) were there for me. My mom road with me and wanted to stay and help me settle in but she was catching ride back with my dad who found it all too emotional to be sending his baby girl to school and made for a quick exit. But going away to school was one of the best experiences of my life and I know I won’t want my girl to leave I hope I will be very encouraging.

    • lesliesholly says:

      I also looked back on my own college days when dropping off my kids. Remembering how much fun I had made it easier. I was almost jealous of all the good times ahead of them!

  17. Kim says:

    This must’ve been so hard for you. I know I’ll be a little heartbroken when my son leaves home for the first time. I am sure each day gets better though as you you both grow in different ways. And then the reunion will be magic.

  18. Kaitie Creator of Fuchisa Freezer says:

    I have two girls and I’m about to have my third. The oldest is in senior kindergarten, my 2nd starts school in two weeks and I’m about to have a baby… I took them school shopping individually the past two weekends and had a great time with them but all I could think was “where did the time go?! When did you become 4 or 5 and so independent?!” I can’t imagine what will happen at 19 when they go to college or university, but at this young age I can relate somewhat to having to let go… Wonderful post. Made me cry! Brought on a lot of emotions. 🙂

    • lesliesholly says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I am trying to restrain myself from telling you how those years are going to keep flying by . . . it really seems like yesterday when mine were that little. You are right, though–letting go is a process.

  19. terristeffes says:

    I’ve done this, too! With a daughter, though. So hard, I cried every time I thought of her!

  20. So sweet. You are always going to miss and worry about your babies no matter their age. I hope he enjoys and does well in college.

  21. Agatha says:

    I think it’s going to be tough for me too – my heart melted when I read this 🙂

  22. Clare Speer says:

    So sweet… and it’s hard… time goes by quickly ( I have two grown daughters) – Blessings!

  23. Awwww! Mine is still a tot but your little baby boy sounds like my little boy and I do not want to think of him not needing me for certain things that I treasure.

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