On Having What it Takes to Let Them Go

“Get yourself together girl,” I tell myself as tears well up for the umpteenth time. “This is not your first rodeo, mama. You know the drill. Suck it up, buttercup. You have what it takes to let go. You got this.”

But the truth is, I don’t “got this”. Not even close.

Confession: My son is heading off to college and I feel robbed.

It’s hard enough to prepare for these moments under the best of circumstances. Throw in a global pandemic and it doesn’t matter that I’ve done this before, I knew it was coming, I’ve thought through every scenario (can I get an amen from any Enneagram 6 friends?!), and am prepared for this.

Every time I look at all six-feet-two of him towering over me with that shaggy man hair and scraggly attempt at growing a mustache, all I see are the memories.

I remember the day the test flashed those two blue lines (and shocked the heck out of me, tbh!).

I remember hearing the words his big sister prayed for…“It’s a boy!”

I remember the look of pride on his dad’s face when he held him for the first time.

I remember him, three years old, sleepily walking down the hall towards me on the morning I had to tell him his dad had died suddenly during the night.

I remember him at T-ball, Scouts, coding camps, and soccer practices as I feebly attempted to piece together a life that would prepare him for the path despite the overwhelming odds.

We’ve been through stuff, this boy and me. This pandemic should be nothing compared to what we’ve been through.

But the truth is, nothing truly prepares you for this moment.

And so here I am. Packing boxes and checking lists and fighting back tears because as much as I know that he’s ready and it’ll all be ok, I don’t know what lies ahead with this all this COVID mess and that makes it so hard to let go of him.

I mean, seriously, did he HAVE to pick a school 12 hours away?! I’ve taken care of him his entire life, and now I can’t be there to make sure he’s safe and sound, happy and healthy, and—let’s be honest here—turning in his homework. Will he make it? It scares the heck out of me.

Yet, here we are. We’re doing this thing. Like the time we rag-tag assembled the tent on the Boy Scouts camping trip, and got lost in the fog driving in the middle of nowhere, and figured out how to climb on the roof to watch fireworks, and endured that night when a  tornado went right over our cabin, and, and, and…

Yep, we’ll do it. We’ll load the truck and drive two states away and settle him into his new place, and as I leave, we’ll share a hug that lasts just long enough to seal the moment forever in my memory and I’ll. be. happy. for. him. The joy will be real.

(Photo credit: Angela Pitts)

Because in the end, mamas, they have what it takes to make it. And we have what it takes to let go.

Alisa’s 15 minutes of fame was as a news reporter just after college. These days, she embraces multiple roles – a mom of three (two teenagers and one who is #adulting), a graduate student at UT Dallas Jindal School of Management, and a freelance writer, editor, and tutor. When she’s not hiding out in the library, you can find her next to a chiminea fire on her back patio. She loves indie movies, eclectic music, random road trips, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, her kids, and her cat Jack Jack (although not necessarily in that order). She grew up as a military brat, residing in four countries and eleven states before settling in the Dallas area. After 20 years here, and with the help of her Aggie daughter, she can seamlessly use “y’all” and “howdy” in a sentence like a true native Texan.


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