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Learning to Launch - College Landing and Mom Still Standing

Getting your child ready for college is one thing. Being ready for him to leave is another. At this point in your life, learning how to launch takes on a whole new meaning.

by Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC - Transition Coach

I remember this day like it was yesterday.

Jake was about three years old. It was a bright and sunny afternoon and I was doing the usual "mom" thing on that specific Saturday. Nothing too exciting - just the routine cleaning and straightening up around the house. So, when my little guy asked if he could wash my car, I was thrilled.

Thinking he and Daddy were on assignment to pitch in, I happily thought nothing of it when I heard the sound of the water being turned on outside while I was Windexing the mirrors.

With Jake's prompting and yelling, "Mommy, all done!" I ran out to my Volvo wagon only to see him proudly holding the green hose, happily I may add, INSIDE my car washing the steering wheel, radio, and everything in between with a scrub brush while Daddy mowed the lawn.  There was about a foot of water in my car.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But I do remember it so vividly, that  well-intentioned little boy was on a mission, to make his mom smile - even through her tears.

Now, here we are, almost 15 years later, and I am still smiling through my tears as I watch Jake walk down the line to receive his diploma at his high school graduation from RFH. Ready to go to college. Ready to launch.

Isn't it ironic how we raise our kids only to let them go?

I guess as a good parent, we should instill all the necessary tools comparable to the bird leaving the nest stuff. But funny thing is, I can't seem to find that rule book. And when I do, I bet there in nothing written in fine print that reads, "WARNING: while you are preparing your kids for their next chapter, you need to buckle up for that next phase, too."

A double launch? I don't get it.

Doesn't it seem so ironic that we, especially as moms, say day after day, how we wish we had more free time as we navigate through the world of parenthood from sleepless nights when they are babies to the sleepless nights through the high school years?

Then, all of a sudden, it's like - BAM!

The reality brick hits you in the face and goes, "Here you go sister.  Here is your life wrapped up on a silver platter for you to do anything you want with your now free time." And you respond in a panic. "Take it back! I'd rather have the kid back than my life."

I suddenly have a sick picture of Father Time laughing in my face right now.

So, in funny way, Jake and I are going to both be freshman next year.

He is going to be studying liberal arts at his first year at Middlebury and I am going to be attending my freshman year at home studying Launch 101 for Moms who miss their kids.

I am very lucky, however, because I still have my Maddie home for another three years, so I am getting broken in lightly when it comes to this whole "empty nest thing". I don't know whether Maddie is too thrilled to have more time with me or she wants to run for the hills thinking I am going to be stalker-esh, bored, "let's hang out kind of mom". Poor thing.

So, as I start to get Jake packed and ready for college, I will be secretly be exploring the next phase in my life, too.

Kind of cool? Sure, I guess so.

Kind of scary? Sure, I guess so.

Is it time to start taking guitar lessons? How about finally putting all of my 8,000 pictures in my empty photo albums? Well, I am not certain about that.

But I do know one thing.

I am one lucky mom who is ready to launch.

With seat belt carefully buckled, kid number two at my side and the Parent 101 manual that doesn't exist on how to do this college send off thing right in my pocket, I know that Jake will be just fine next year. And most likely, he will be teaching me a thing or two about tools and techniques on how to navigate freshman year.

In fact, I am sure of it.

But I do know one thing, that no matter what, learning to launch isn't all about letting go - it's about letting in. It's about embracing the change and all the wonderful characteristics that this transition brings. And the road trips to Vermont are an added bonus and well-needed time away from the grind when we go see Jake play football in the fall.

So, as I glance at my three weekends circled in red ink (in bold, I might add) on my kitchen calendar, I will await going to visit my newly launched son up in New England in the fall, eagerly and most readily.

Well, it's the least I could do for him.

You know, just in case he decides he wants to wash my car - for old times' sake.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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